Toiling beneath the unforgiving sun, we languished in the fields. Not a damned one of us would dare ask for reprieve, complain, or even ask how long until the day was done. Bound to the soil, we picked until our fingertips became as numb as the earth below us. Stained and embarrassed, we hunched in our anonymity until we were addressed, accordingly.
Luckily, I was pretty much ignored, like that kid in phys. ed. who wanders around in the field grasping at his crotch like a safety blanket, hoping not to be found, while coach skirts by with a ‘participation’ grade as not to upset the parents…
We thankless souls picked
Lord, my thighs were confessing the next morning.
50 Hail Maries did they pray, you bitch!
Toil did we do, though, every last one of us.
Picking the yellow stuff, all hoped not to get whipped.
–but if Shaun Hill whipped any of us,
It’d probably turn into some sort of masochistic orgy
Moreover, God knows NO work would have gotten done.
Thank God for Søren Kierkegaard and the virtue of a limp dick.
Vera Mae has a special place in my plaque-encrusted heart. 2013 seems long ago, but I can recall that day every time I release the cap from this beer.
I remember how much Mr. Hill talked about himself.
I remember how much we 10 of us didn’t pick that day. Four or five large trash bags, and we still didn’t bring in quite enough.
The disappointment of father in son.
I told you, brain surgeon, not plastic surgeon!
—But I didn’t care
Hands caked in vermilion, windows down, the wind rushed through as I broke my own.
“I feel like Justin Vernon,” I mumbled, half-drunkenly to Derek in the driver’s seat.
He laughed obligingly.
I couldn’t squat for the next week.
It’s a beautiful, yet constipated time of the year.
The harvest is yet upon us, and no clearer is that for me than with the release of Hill Farmstead’s Vera Mae.
A rustic saison, brewed with dandelion, Vera Mae is an instant late summer classic.
Every time I pry off its cap, I remember what a little bitch I was that day. Every time I gaze upon its lemonade-yellow hue, I remember complaining about how hot it was.
Fizzy, frothy white head.
Away from the light, hints of gold and orange curve around the edges. Exposed to the light, slight chartreuse emerges on the surface. Hazy as fuck, bright and beautiful, I remember taking intermittent breaks while everyone else picked along.
Every time I inhale and am greeted by that floral and oak character, I remember that one guy who wouldn ‘t shut the fuck up about how much he appreciated previous vintages and other collaborative works with other well-established breweries and—oh yeah—how they’re all just great, too.
Honey and beeswax.
Every time I taste that lemon-like acidity, I remember that attractive, somewhat older woman with the dope dog, and I get distracted; I was distracted then, too. I didn’t do much work. Long and lean, she had a somewhat regal character about her. I like to think that Shaun Hill’s late, great-aunt—the name sake for this saison—was like this too. However, I don’t want to give the impression that I have the hots for one of Mr. Hill’s ancestors. I don’t. You know what I mean.
You can’t misconstrue that.
I mean, like, regal like a Rolls Royce. You wouldn’t fuck a Rolls Royce, would you? I mean, you wouldn’t actually have sex with a car, right?
Do you know what I mean?
…Seriously, I mean no disrespect. I’m sure Vera Mae was a really beautiful woman, and I’m sure her husband was really glad to have all that, and shit – Not that the rest of Mr. Hill’s relatives weren’t likely beautiful in their own way. I mean, I don’t want to show any preference here.
Shaun’s a good lookin’ guy. I’m not physically attracted to him. No, not like that.
He’s not a car. I’m sure he’s doing fine. Lactobacillus* character bursts forth in the middle of the mouth. Strangely, a drier, saltier, lemon-lime Gatorade comes to mind here, as well. Then comes the oak. In a bizarre way, I a lemon sherbet or some sort of lemon frozen yogurt. Bitterness from the dandelion comes out towards the end with a strong herbal, earthy, green, vegetal kick. Some fruity esters follow, ending with that classic coconut character that comes from lactobacillus.
Mouthfeel has medium to strong acids, a yeast bite, drying astringency and a tart, clean finish.
It’s not a sex thing.
*9.2 out of 10*
*A lactic acid bacteria (as is capable of converting lactose into lactic acid), particularly harmless to humans, used to intentionally sour ales. Mostly of the L. Casei or L. Brevis varieties. Hey, fun fact: Lactobacilli are also found predominantly in intestines and vaginas. Bottoms up!
We discussed our confirmation names at the table of the pizzeria. We were two pints deep, a slice or two short.
Ah yes, we discussed the finer points of our Catholic pasts.
Nick spouted an anecdote about the bats the slept in the church through their baptism and communion, but fled the coup on confirmation day.
The families, with their children, embarrassed and distressed by our incessant swearing, followed suit.
In a moment, we were alone.
We were louder than we thought.
As I made it to my car, I was surprised I had not said something more embarrassing across the broad duration. By grace, my words carried like a bloated dirigible through the clouds, weighty and blunt, yet obscured by the din, the atmosphere.
I turned the key,
I tensed and then released,
I arose for the nightly homily that dripped through the speakers:
Have I not been crude
Or do I sound insincere
I’m just trying to make some sense of this
Before I lose another year
Its all that I can do
The Gospel According to Martin Courtney was written across my hands as I made my way home; hand over hand, I guided my 2008 Impala from Shelburne to Colchester like a patient shepherd.
The snow, I found, has been melting faster than I realized.
I had a shit. I felt like sleeping.
The ale was poured.
I felt it hit the glass.
I felt it hit my hand.
Fuck the police.
Saison de Lente is a Lenten farmhouse ale from the Californian beer wizards at The Bruery. It is lightly hopped and fermented with the yeast strain, brettanomyces, which imparts a distinctly more tart and musky aroma and flavor historically once indicative of beer spoilage. Consider purposely-ripped designer jeans or “avant-garde” musical genres.
…Now do you get it?
Sounds shitty, I know, but you’d be surprised.
It erupted like a tantrum. Like a prepubescent girl, it was screaming. In the glass, it was ferocious. The head was white as a pearl. It laced the cup, sparsely, like breadcrumbs in a Grimm fairytale.
I was lost.
I was a disingenuous school board meeting filled with anal-retentive nitwits raging against the town government and powered by middle-class sentiment, whole-grain Honey Smacks, and KY jelly.
DON’T CALL IT A REFINANCE
I gingerly took a whiff.
I was elated.
Golden to brass, it was stunning.
I could see right through it. It was beautiful.
It was genuine.
It was beer.
It stank like a fine sourdough. It was a perfect, beautiful Italian sourdough round, and I could smell the toasted crust of it. Subtle, herbal hops tickled my nose. A gentle mineral character followed.
character came through, with almost a lemongrass quality to it—
As it crossed my lips, did I do penance!
The mild banana quality of a saison emerged with a pleasantly light flavor, and accentuated itself on the backend. It immediately changed its tune towards the middle of the mouth. Brettanomyces invaded as if were Saracens —salty, bready flavors with the notable pineapple funk—a quiet funk, though. Now there’s a very dry finish, skipper!
Subdued flavors, overall.
As Spring approaches, urges emerge for change, for evolution. Old things are wont become new. This beer is a tribute to that sentiment. This beer is both evocative and provocative. It provides empathy for desire for change with the smoothness of its flavor, and carbonated vivacity to inspire. Whether you’re religious or not, this is a season for recollection and reconsideration of one’s place in life. It’s a time of the year to set lofty goals. Some people really want to get out there and set the fucking world on fire.
I want to get pissed drunk with the Pope.
*9.0 out of 10*