Can a person be attracted to a bottle? Is that a thing? Are there sexual deviants out there who are into beverage containers? These are some of the awkward questions that the new beer from Schlafly has me asking myself. I blame the hour-glass shape of the bottle and that rose-gold plaque. One look at the bottle and you know this beer, The Devil’s Farmhouse, is special. Or maybe I’m just a pervert who’s weirdly attracted to bottles.
As the name implies, The Devil’s Farmhouse is a farmhouse ale, released as part of Schlafly’s Ibex Rare series, a line of one-off, large format beers with a limited production (less than 4,000 bottles of this one) and a hefty price tag ($30 a pop). It’s packed with rye, wheat and dark malts, fermented with Brettanomyces and aged with black currents and cherries in red wine barrels for 18 months. So, yeah, this beer is kind of a big deal. No wonder I’m a little turned on.
The Devil’s Farmhouse pours dark, with a thin white head that has a rosy hue to it, and smells overwhelmingly like apple cider vinegar. I actually expect a layer of salinity in the beer because of the vinegary nose, and I’m worried that this might be one of those over the top sours, but I’m pleasantly surprised by how mellow and balanced everything is once I dig into the beer.
The vinegar on the nose turns into powerful red wine notes on the sip. It’s pretty well carbonated, which adds to a pillowy, almost ethereal mouthfeel that I suspect comes largely from the wheat in the malt bill. It’s plenty fruity, without being sweet, thanks to the black currants, which add a layer of tartness. Put it together and it’s funky and vaguely sour, but not in a puckering kind of way. There’s definitely an acidic layer, with an attractive woodiness to it, due to all that time in the barrel. I wish the sweet cherries had a bigger presence, but there’s already so much going on with this beer, that it might be too crowded if there was another strong element in the mix.
It’s a beer for wine lovers, for funky farmhouse lovers, for those looking for a mild sour experience…and of course, for those of us who are as into the bottle as we are the beer.
Brewery: Schlafly Beer
City: St. Louis, Missouri
Style: Farmhouse ale
Availability: Limited, big bottle