Trillium is a rather new microbrewery from the Fort Point area of Boston, boasting some very highly-rated beers, such as their IPAs and saisons (of which this is an example). Having only recently begun bottling, Trillium has been available solely on draft in Boston and its surrounding neighborhoods, and I've been impressed with their Congress Street IPA and enjoyed a small sample of their Bug Valley wild ale at ACBF in 2013. When I found a bottle of their flagship farmhouse ale (simply named "Trillium") at Craft Beer Cellar in Westford, I was intrigued.
I got tons of foam upon my first direct pour, with a huge bone-white head traveling upwards from the bottom of my glass, taking several minutes to dissipate with each small addition of beer. Lacing seems quite sticky and forms overhangs and cobweb patterns as it clings to the form of the glass. The color is straw yellow with a slight golden sheen and a vibrant glow when held to the light, its hazy body teeming with yeasty particulate solids. The smell leads off with a very typical Belgian-style funk, but there's some baking spice, vanilla extract, stone fruit, bready/doughy yeast and light spicy hops floating about in the ether as well. Overall, it seems like it's going to be more like a Belgian single/pale ale than a saison, but the label does not specify either, so it was unfair to go into this expecting a saison-like scent. The esters are slightly reined in from the usual, and, on the tongue, the spice profile is complimented by a helping of rather biting, bitter hops that provide a nice foil to the wheat-laden, slightly malty initial punch. There's a touch of clove along with the vanilla and nutmeg one-two punch that makes this feel like a hybridized wheat ale at times -- a cool idea, and the freshness helps as well in achieving a round, soft profile in spite of those punchy, rocking hops. Some more white pepper is coming out now, along with slight bitter orange peel and more doughy goodness coating the tongue. Mouthfeel seems on the drier edge of smooth with a zesty carbonation engaging the palate as it delivers spicy, hoppy, bready goodness all the way down.
Though this would be fun to split with friends, it's a great solo bottle due to the complexity and sessionable style it has going for it. The spritzy carbonation and well-built feel works as both a vehicle and an endpoint for the various herbal, spicy and full-bodied flavors going on. As for style, I'm still on the fence, so I'm going to go with their idea this one, as it does display a lot of the best qualities of so-called "farmhouse" beers without sticking to one particular aspect or geographical trope. In fact, it's the harmony of the different elements that makes this so enjoyable; the slight German bent of the yeast (displaying the clovey and banana-y aspects with a restrained ester profile and a clean fermentation), the peppery and sweet spice melding with a saison-like hop profile and the malty yet delicate and slightly-floral body of an abbey single style ale. As mentioned before, Trillium has been known for high quality since they first arrived on the scene, and though they haven't gotten around to bottling some of their inevitably-crazier ale inventions, I have high hopes for this Boston outfit. This flagship ale is a great start; split with friends or enjoy alone with some funky cheese or the rustic cuisine of your choice... I'm sure you'll enjoy it!
The official breakdown:
- Style: Saison/Farmhouse/Belgian Pale Ale
- ABV: 6.4%
- Appearance: Deep straw yellow with a blooming golden sheen that struggles through the hazy depths. Fantastic lacing and retention of its bone-white foamy head
- Scent: Touches a lot of different aspects ranging from the typically doughy yeast to slight vanilla, baking spice, clove, banana, white pepper and even apple
- Taste: A touch more funk than was discernible to my nose, but otherwise similar with swaths of malt, peppery spice, bitter noble hops and a lightly estery touch
- Mouthfeel: A fairly nice body for a rather low alcohol beer; coating and engaging carbonation that covers the tongue. Has a pretty dry and consistent finish
- Drinkability: This would be a fantastic beer to split with friends over good conversation and equally-good food, but it's great to contemplate alone as well