Lars Garshol, author of “Historical Brewing Techniques: The Lost Art of Farmhouse Brewing,” writes about “What counts as a farmhouse ale?”
It’s simple, but . . . “Farmhouse brewing is about the tradition, not the source of the ingredients.” He explains.
He also weighs in on the matter of whether saison was really a farmhouse product. Roel Mulder has suggested otherwise. Cutting a long story short, Garshol concludes saison is a style that belongs in the farmhouse family. But first, he makes two important points.
– “Farmers who grow grain will brew beer as long as it makes economic sense for them, and whether there is industry nearby won’t necessarily affect the economic logic at all.”
– Some facts can neither be proved as undeniable nor disproved.
This is as true of American brewing history as it is of farmers in the Hainaut region of Belgium making beer in spring for the harvest work. The history in the centuries after, or perhaps even before, the time Thomas Hariot describes brewing on Roanoke Island between 1584 and 1586 is incomplete.
Start with the thought there were a lot of farmers growing grain. Accept that there’s more about brewing in the Americas than has already been documented. Go.