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CarnevaleThis is the first post in what I hope will be a regular series highlighting various farmhouse ales. Farmhouse ales (also known as saisons) have quickly become one of my favorite types of beer. It’s a very loose category of beers as their can be great differences between many beers all with the same label of “farmhouse” or “saison”. I’ll write more about the style later, let’s get on to the beer.

This past Tuesday, Ritual Tavern had two farmhouse ales on draft, Lost Abbey’s Carnevale and The Bruery’s Saison de Lente and I tasted both side by side.

Carnevale is brewed by The Lost Abbey as a celebration of Carnival (Carnevale in Italian) as far as I can tell the recipe changes every year, according to RateBeer in 2009 it had Brettanomyces, I couldn’t find any info on this year’s release (other than the fact that it should start make the rounds in kegs and bottles soon) but I couldn’t taste any Brett in this batch. It’s 6.5% ABV.

Saison de Lente is the Bruery’s spring seasonal which does contain Brettanomyces. Bottles tend to stick around at some liquor stores throughout much of the year and it’s often on tap at beer bars in the spring. It comes in at 6.5% ABV, 35 IBU and 4 SRM.

Both beers were nearly identical in color, a pale gold or straw color with white foam. The Saison de Lente originally had quite a bit of head (more than the Carnevale) but it quickly disappeared. Carnevale had much less foam on it, but it stuck around for some time.

Carnevale had a very sweet and noticeable bubblegum or candy smell and the first tastes I took of it were similar. It was very well carbonated, which I think detracted some from the taste at first. There were some peppery spices and it finished very phenolic and clove tasting. The finish was dry for how sweet it started out. I liked it more as it warmed up, it got less sweet and the spices really came out. Lost Abbey recommends serving it between 45 – 52F, but I’m not sure what temperatures I was drinking it at.

Saison De Lente

Saison de Lente had a sweet smell but it was far more subdued and not nearly as reminiscent of bubblegum. The taste was slightly sweet and very floral up front. There was some earthy funkiness, probably the Brettanomyces but it wasn’t overpowering or detracting at all (I like Brett but those that don’t shouldn’t worry about it in this beer). The carbonation was much lower than Carnevale but it also felt thinner which did detract from it a bit. There was a good deal of lemony citrus and the finish seemed to be more hop bitterness than clove phenols.

Both were overall very good and I wouldn’t hesitate to drink either of them again.

The photos are not of the beer I had (both were on draft) but my camera phone didn’t snap a good pic.

Have a favorite Farmhouse ale? Leave a comment below and I’ll try to check it out!

Click here for more info on Carnevale

Click here for more info on Saison de Lente

Photos CC Flickr. Carnevale: ttam_elbanak, Saison de Lente: mitch_j