What: Ashley Farmhouse Organic Saison
ABV: 6.3 percent
Cost: about $8.50 for a 750-ml bottle
Where: most craft beer outlets
Freehouse Brewery opened in 2013 and was the fourth craft brewery in metro Charleston. There are now nine microbreweries and brewpubs in that area, with at least two (and probably more) in planning. The Charleston area has quickly become the center of craft beer in South Carolina; soon it may become a legitimate rival for Asheville’s beer scene.
Despite its modern equipment, Freehouse is intentionally a somewhat rustic brewery, using organic ingredients for its beers and brewing with direct-fired brew kettles. Not surprisingly, one of its first bottled beers is in the very rustic saison style.
Freehouse’s version is an excellent representation of the style, with the distinctive spiciness of Belgian yeast, mild sweet malt at midtaste and spicy peppery notes at the finish. The brewery reportedly uses ginger, rye and some bitter orange peel, ingredients that impart a briskness that is refreshing and still stylistically accurate. This one is proof that world-class beer can be made anywhere, including South Carolina. Cheers! — Gerald Jowers
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