An exclusive resort nestled in the hills of East Tennessee, Blackberry Farm has hosted billionaires, actors, athletes, musicians and, since 2011, a brewery that churns out some of the best farmhouse-style beer in the country. Blackberry Farm Brewery’s initial offerings were high-end, limited-distribution 750-milliliter bottles. While the beer was excellent, there just weren’t many situations in which I was looking to drop $15 to $20 on close to a liter of saison.
The brewery’s new canning line has made its beer more accessible and affordable. And after a short-lived misfire that featured questionable names and labeling that definitely didn’t reflect the brewery’s ethos, Blackberry Farm now offers cans of four Belgian-style ales, including my favorite: its award-winning Classic Saison.
Blackberry Farm’s designs feel understated and minimalist among today’s landscape of brightly colored can art. The brewery’s Classic Saison pours a hazy golden-orange color with a cap of thick, foamy, white bubbles. It looks like a saison you’d expect to be served from a 300-year-old brewery in Belgium, not poured from a can you bought at a grocery store.
Classic’s aroma is just that—classic. It smells like walking into an old farm brewery in Europe, which is exactly what Blackberry Farm wants. Lean over the glass and you'll be greeted by a perfect marriage of spice, yeast, pepper, and grass aromas. A little bit of barnyard funk plays in the background, accenting the more delicate aspects of the aroma rather than overpowering them.
It’s simply stunning. In comparison, most American-made saisons taste like rainwater strained through an old horse blanket.”
There is a reason Classic won the gold medal in the French and Belgian-Style Saison category in its first entry at the World Beer Cup: It’s simply stunning. In comparison, most American-made saisons taste like rainwater strained through an old horse blanket. Everything is in absolute harmony with every bit of the yeast, spice, pepper, and grass from the aroma along for the ride. Sweet and soft banana and citrus float through, crafting a new wave of flavor that is balanced by all the spicy pepper and coriander.
Blackberry Farm is committed to staying true to its farm roots—no flash, just perfect execution. I grew up in Tennessee, and the flavors here remind me nothing of home. That’s a good thing, however, because drinking Blackberry’s Classic Saison feels like something you'd be lucky to find on a trip somewhere far away. The fact you can now buy a six-pack of such a good beer for under $10 at most grocery stores is totally ridiculous, but it's also just fine by me.