Ann by Hill Farmstead Brewery
The Hill Farmstead is about as far north in Vermont as you can get before you hit the Canadian border. It’s a plot of ground that has been in the Hill family since the 17th century, far from everything and anyone.
Shaun Hill left to become a brewer, and eventually opened up a brewery in Denmark (which is pretty much the Vermont of Europe). After a few years and a few World Beer Cup medals, he went home again, and opened up Hill Farmstead Brewery in 2010.
I am not sure why brewers from the cold north strive for elegance rather than brute strength, but it is a growing trend that I wholeheartedly encourage.
Ann is a Bière de Miel: a saison brewed with wildflower honey and aged in old wine barrels. It is complex and beautiful. The aroma offers up burnt butter, honey, orange zest, and dirty grass. One that palate, lemon grass and vanilla edge in, along with Bartlett pear and a distinct vinous quality. A touch of crispness with a vigorous carbonation turns this into a stellar bottle, keeping the complex flavors in line with the mouthfeel.
A masterfully balanced beer that should be on everyone’s shortlist.