What is a Farmhouse Brewery?
Should we reserve the term "farmhouse" for breweries actually on farms?
A couple of weeks ago, while visiting my parents in Maine, I checked out a brewery I’d heard about. I wasn’t sure what it was called, but I knew it was located on a farm in the woods north of Portland. To my surprise, when I Googled “farm brewery Portland,” at least five different breweries came up.
Were there really that many breweries based on farms in Portland? Well, no. But breweries that specialize in American saisons often call themselves “farmhouse breweries,” because it was farmers who first brewed saisons as a hydrating alternative to dirty well water.
The brewery I’d been looking for, Oxbow Brewing Co., is a true farmhouse brewery, in that it brews American saisons and brews out of a farmhouse. Funky Bow Beer Company (also in Portland) is a brewery based out of a farmhouse, though they don’t make saisons. The Farmhouse Brewery in Owego, New York, is actually based out of a typical taproom, but does offer a few farmhouse ales.
So which one is a farmhouse brewery?
It makes sense for breweries like Oxbow and Funky Bow to call themselves farmhouse breweries because they’re actually on farms. To avoid confusion, breweries like Farmhouse in Owego that make saisons but aren’t actually on a farm should call themselves by another name. Saison breweries, perhaps?