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There are rare occasions when I drink a certain type of beer (or wine, for that matter), that I find myself transported. The aromas and flavors act as a time machine that sends me, in my mind’s eye, to a place that I in some way cherish. Think of those York Peppermint Patty commercials, and you’ll kind of get what I mean.
The first time I tasted the Humble Harvester IPA from Rock Art Brewery, I imagined myself sitting in a newly-mown hay field on a Vermont hillside. The hazy, golden complexion of the beer; the fresh, imminently quaffable liquid, so piney and reminiscent of just-cut grass– even though summer is now gone and the hay has been stacked up in the mow, one sip of this beer and I am back in that field, sitting on a blanket with the sun shining on my back.
The Humble Harvester is a limited-edition offering, created in celebration and support of Salvation Farms, a non-profit gleaning and food recovery operation which is also located in Morrisville. The mission of Salvation Farms is to harvest crops that would, for a variety of reasons, go to waste or otherwise be tilled under before they can be picked. The food is then cleaned, sorted and processed at one of two correctional facilities in Vermont, before being donated to the Vermont Foodbank, or other hunger-relief organizations in the state.
Not only does Salvation Farms employ inmates to process the food; they are also working in the fields, harvesting crops. Said Theresa Snow, director and co-founder of Salvation Farms, in an interview conducted last month, “The crews are hardworking, they’re proud, and they seem to enjoy the work.”
The Humble Harvester is a limited-edition beer (just 300 cases were bottled), with proceeds to benefit the work of Salvation Farms. For Rock Art Brewery, community giving and philanthropy are just a part of the way they do business. Past fundraisers have benefited a local CSA farm whose barn burned to the ground, and a much beloved local swimming hole that was under threat of privatization.
My only complaint about all of this is that, from what I can tell, Rock Art has made no plans to brew this particular IPA in the future. That’s really too bad because, in my opinion, this one is the best of the bunch.
Review: The Humble Harvester IPA, Rock Art Brewery
Style: India Pale Ale
I popped the top on this super-carbonated beer and poured it slowly– a lively white foam, two or more fingers high, sat atop the cloudy orange liquid, then dissipated quickly. Immediately the funky aromas of fresh, piney hops filled my nostrils; the first sip fizzed actively in my mouth, setting my palate with its fresh, sexy bitterness.
I mused on the sunny color of the cold, quaffable ale as I sipped. The flavor is so citrusy– a lovely grapefruit juiciness that I have come to associate with my favorite new-school IPAs. The bitterness is offset by aromas of mango and grass. It is incredibly enjoyable when served very cold.
Up on that hillside, the one in my imagination, I’d drink this IPA alongside a standard ploughman’s lunch of country bread, strong cheese, assorted pickles and cured meats. Wherever you find yourself enjoying this beer, do so within the next month or so. You wouldn’t want all that good freshness going to waste.
Have a pint at the Rock Art Brewery in Morrisville the next time you’re on the Vermont Beer Trail. To figure out how in the heck to get there, visit their website.
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