From The Ground is a small brewery founded by Jakob Cirell on the grounds of Migliorelli Farm in Red Hook, New York, in 2012. After years of working as a mechanical engineer in the Big Apple, Cirell decided to return to the farming practices he was raised with in Maine in his youth and pursue a dream of brewing beer for a living. Committed to using ingredients only grown on New York soil, From The Ground’s beers are the epitome of local agriculture. The Migliorelli Farm contains a 100-acre orchard which grows apples, pears, cherries, and a variety of tree fruits used in the barrel-aging process.
While the brewery is still quite small, brewing on a 5 barrel system, From The Ground is already experimenting. For this tasting, we sampled all 4 beers in their seasonal Farmhouse Ale series, each one named after the Migliorelli fruit varietal they showcase. Here's what we thought:
Before diving into the actual physical characteristics here, we wanted to recommend you read From The Ground's own descriptions of these farmhouse ales. They're poignant and staggeringly beautiful, and the one for Shiro in particular evokes a simple, muted nostalgia that's hard to shake. It fits the beer, too, which poured with a super-white, fuzzy head over a color like pear cider or chamomile tea. It had a soft glow, like the air on a long-forgotten Sunday drive.
The cider visual proved to be the most telling, as Shiro unveiled tangy, tart fruit aromas. As an ale brewed with plums, this brew had a sort of undefinable fruitiness - plum is a very neutral flavor, and Shiro mirrored that, taking its sharpest notes from the tannins of the plum skin. On the tongue, it was light and well-carbonated, softer than the aroma and balanced with a touch of grain.
If there were ever a defense of the intricate differences among a fruit's varieties, following the Shiro with the Santa Rosa would be it. Named after another breed of plums, Santa Rosa looked like pure, ruby red grapefruit juice, complete with hazy sheen. The rosy complexion even snuck up into the foamy head, which had just a touch of pink to it.
For such a visually dynamic brew, the scents contained within the Santa Rosa were surprisingly subtle, the fruitiness delicate and inviting. This beer actually had aromas more traditionally associated with wine, reminding us of a dry riesling, with accents of potpourri and dried chrysanthemums. These subtle complexities continued onto the palate, the light, tart fruitiness rounded by a mouthfeel so soft, several of our tasters described it as "velvety." Overall, Santa Rosa was a nuanced and pleasing experience.
Early Glow ended up being the most rewarding beer of the tasting, if only because peach is such a tricky and divisive adjunct - use too little, and it's undetectable; too much, and it turns any drink into saccharine nonsense. We warily eyed this effervescent brew, taking in its green-tea-esque appearance with a careful eye.
On the nose, Early Glow displayed its fruity provenance proudly. It smelled delicious, like a glass of champagne with a slice of fresh peach dropped in. We say "fresh peach" because that was the most important detail of all - it was entirely clear that no artificial syrups were used in this brew, even before we tasted it. Once we did, we were in love. Early Glow struck the balance perfectly, with a subtle, juicy peach aura that was neither overwhelming nor absent. Like a freshly picked, slightly under-ripe peach, this beer was delicate and delicious. We came back for thirds.
Hudson: the beer made with fresh cherries that ended up looking like pure blood orange juice or a watermelon Jolly Rancher, adorned with a pure pink, frothy head. This one, too, derives its name from the fruit varietal, rather than the river (or valley). Just like with Early Glow, we were hesitant about the Hudson. We've been burned by cherry brews before: thick, syrupy concoctions that tasted more like Robitussin than beer.
This, however, was all a cherry beer should be. It smelled like tart, freshly squeezed cherry juice (is cherry juice squeezed?), sharp and vibrant. It didn't leave much room for other, subtler aromas or flavors, but that was fine with us. On the tongue, Hudson was tart and dry, imbued with the spirit of the cherry but not its sugar. The freshness truly can't be overstated, either - Hudson wore its farm origins proudly.