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More Roads: Rethinking Farmhouse Ales

Phil Markowski, cofounder and brewmaster of Two Roads Brewing in Stratford, Connecticut, wrote the book on farmhouse ales. Here he looks back on that influential work, pondering the expanding universe of knowledge about farmhouse brewing.

Phil Markowski May 26, 2020 - 9 min read

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Probably no book has guided the brewing world’s exploration of Belgian saison and French bière de garde as much as Phil Markowski’s Farmhouse Ales: Culture and Craftsmanship in the Belgian Tradition, published in 2004. It came before the explosion of popularity in farmhouse-inspired beers in the United States, and it has informed the trend along the way. In particular, the book takes a nondogmatic approach to the beers as they existed historically in Belgium and France. It describes styles that were not locked in place, but instead were wide open to interpretation and possibility. American brewers have taken that perspective and run in often unexpected directions.

As new research on farmhouse brewing in Northern and Eastern Europe enters the English-speaking world—namely, the upcoming book Historical Brewing, by Lars Marius Garshol—Markowski considers his subject in a shifting context. —Jamie Bogner

Farmhouse brewing, writ larger

“Lars expands the definition of what was known at the time that I did my research, and what was laid out by importers really. The products that were available were from Belgium, southern Belgium and northern France, and therefore that sort of defined the geographical barriers of what I researched and presented. But Lars has uncovered a really very different history of farmhouse brewing and certainly expanded the definition. So what has been available as the definitive scope of farmhouse has certainly been expanded.

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