Don’t Let Armadillo Ale Works’ Greenbelt Farmhouse Ale’s Cloudy Appearance Throw You, That Cloudy Mystery Material Is Part Of What Makes It Taste So Good.

Welcome to On Tap! Each week in this recurring feature, we’ll take an in-depth look at one of the many beers now available in the suddenly crowded North Texas brew scene. The goal here is to look at these area beers without our local goggles on and to wonder aloud, “Is this beer good or do I just like it because it’s local?” Should be a fun experiment, no? Cheers to that!

This week, we sipped on Armadillo Ale Works’ Greenbelt Farmhouse Ale.

Fast Facts on Armadillo Ale Works Greenbelt Farmhouse Ale.
Style: Farmhouse.
ABV: 5.2 percent.
International Bitterness Units (IBUs): 20.
Color: Deep Gold / Light Orange.
Availability: Cans and Draft.

Overview.
Armadillo Ale Works opened in 2010, and it hails from Denton, Texas. In its early days, Deep Ellum Brewing Company helped Armadillo get its beers to market. Nowadays, North Texas Brewing Company brews Armadillo’s beers. It’s a little weird that Armadillo has come this far on contract brews. But wait, is it that weird? For the time being, and until Armadillo gets its own brewing operation up and running, this is how it’ll roll. I recall drinking a few six packs of Greenbelt a while back, and then the beer seemed to disappear. Was it oversight on my part? Not to worry, it’s back and firmly supplanted on my zymurgical radar screen. On its can, Armadillo states that its Greenbelt Farmhouse Ale is a citrusy American-Belgian-Weizen hybrid. I can’t say that I’m an expert on classifying beer, but it probably makes most sense to place this beer most in the farmhouse or saison category.

Background on Farmhouse Ale.
The farmhouse style, to me, means saison-ish. It adheres more closely with the saison style, but also gives it enough latitude to take on a few other characteristics. In the case of Greenbelt Farmhouse Ale, the citrus, peppercorn and fruity notes are a tell that this beer should be classified in the saison category. For a primer on the saison style, check out our review on Cedar Creek’s Clover Kicker or Lakewood Brewing Company’s Till & Toil.

Appearance.
Greenbelt Farmhouse Ale pours a deep gold, light orange color in to the glass. There’s a moderate amount of foam that remains. As I pour this beer, I notice that this is definitely an unfiltered beer; this is OK for the style. The first can I pour has this strange, swirly sediment that plops out toward the end of the pour. I suspect that it’s yeast goodies and other bits that settled out after packaging. Not to fear, I pour a second beer to verify that this cloudy, swirly situation is still here. And weirdly enough, it is! This layer of extra-cloudy mystery material makes a one-inch layer that congregates toward the top of the glass. After a few minutes of wonder, I do a subtle stir of the beer and all of the haze matter mixes back in where it belongs. Hey, this yeasty goop situation isn’t an everyday thing. So while I may seem laser-focused on it, it’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just a thing that I notice! Armadillo states that it uses a highly attenuative yeast (referring to the yeast’s sugar-consuming ability), but that this same yeast is not so good at flocculating (settling or clearing out). So it’s not a surprise to me that this beer is extra funky in the appearance department. The swirly, hazy, yummies remind me of the last pour, the dreggy bits from a bottle-conditioned beer.

Aroma.
Greenbelt smells like summer. Right away, I get a large amount of citrus aroma. It’s not a bitter lemon or lime sort of citrus for me, rather, it’s more akin to mandarin orange peel. Behind the orange notes, I pick up the bright pop of pepper berry and subtle coriander. The sweetness is turned up a bit, but this beer has those inviting and hot-season drinking, inviting aromas that I love in the saison style.

Flavor.
The flavor keeps on with the mandarin orange note, but the spice seems more dialed up on the tongue versus on the nose. I get a sharp, pleasant bite of hop bitterness as I sip this beer. At first, it’s almost over the top, but then I settle in to the groove about halfway through and I’m digging it. There isn’t a lot of residual sweetness I get on this beer, even though do sense a sweet flavor. There’s an interesting dance of flavor notes going on here that reinforce the saison-ness of this beer. There’s also a hearty, smooth wheat flavor akin to a Belgian wit.

Mouthfeel.
This low-alcohol beer does not disappoint on the mouthfeel. Even though the beer is a humble 5.2 percent ABV, its focus on flavor doesn’t come at expense of body. So this is a lighter-bodied beer, but it hits the sweet spot for me with just a hint of sugar.

Overall Impression.
Greenbelt Farmhouse Ale drinks like a bigger beer, but it’s not. The sweet aroma, bright pop and combination of sweet and bitter flavor together, and the lingering aftertaste all play up this near-session beer. I don’t know why it’s taken so long for me to review this beer. Maybe it’s because I couldn’t find it for that moment where the beer did the disappearing act. Dunno. What I do know is that Greenbelt Farmhouse Ale gets a firm recommend. And while Armadillo would probably rather have me review its more recent beers like Honey Please or Royal Champ, I couldn’t resist spending some time with one of its more O.G. beers. If and when I’m in the saison mood – which is most of the warm months – Greenbelt will remain on my short list.

Score.
On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d give Armadillo Ale Works Greenbelt Farmhouse Ale an 8.

What’s happening in the area brew scene?
• Saturday, May 20. El Palote Beer Dinner & Vegan Food Pairing at On Rotation.
• Sunday, May 21. Brew-haha at Four Corners Brewing.
• Saturday, June 3. Index Fest at Panther Island Pavilion.
• Saturday, June 17. Best Little Brewfest in Texas at Old Town Lewisville.

Previous On Tap Reviews:
Revolver’s Sangre y Miel: 10.
Peticolas’ Royal Scandal: 10.
Community’s Mosaic IPA: 10.
Peticolas’ Velvet Hammer: 10.
Collective Brewing Project’s Boysenbarrel: 10.
Community’s Barrel-Aged Legion: 10.
Community’s Legion: 10.
Martin House River Horse: 9.75.
BrainDead’s Fill in the Blancs: 9.5.
Oak Highlands’ Freaky Deaky: 9.5.
Deep Ellum’s Barrel Aged Four Swords: 9.5.
Lakewood’s Saint Dymphna: 9.5.
Peticolas’ Lost Epic: 9.5.
Community’s Ascension Porter: 9.5.
Lakewood’s Temptress: 9.5.
Lakewood’s Goatman: 9.5.
Community’s Public Ale: 9.5.
Peticolas’ Thrilla in Brazilla: 9.5.
• Collective Brewing Project’s SMaSHY: 9.2
• On Rotation’s Lingonberry Sahti: 9.25.
On Rotation’s Jalapeno Saison: 9.
Woodcreek’s Bourbon Barrel Bock: 9.
Lakewood’s Wild Manimal: 9.
Revolver’s Blood & Honey: 9.
Martin House’s Imperial Texan: 9.
Community’s Trinity Tripel: 9.
Peticolas’ Irish Goodbye: 9.
Four Corners’ Block Party Porter: 9.
Cedar Creek’s Belgian Dubbel: 9.
• Cedar Creek’s Poblano Paradise: 8.75.
Small Brewpub’s Black Pepper Pils: 8.5.
Peticolas’ Ghost Of Alfred Brown: 8.5.
Deep Ellum’s Easy Peasy IPA: 8.5.
Deep Ellum’s Oak Cliff Coffee Ale: 8.5.
Lakewood’s Rock Ryder: 8.5.
Rahr’s Bourbon Barrel Aged Winter Warmer: 8.5.
Lakewood’s Raspberry Temptress: 8.5.
• Peticolas’ Prime Minister: 8.25.
• Lakewood Brewing Grand Allowance: 8.
Community’s Texas Helles: 8.
On Rotation’s Moar Blackberry: 8.
Lakewood’s Thread Spinner: 8.
Texas Ale Project 50 Ft. Jackrabbit: 8.
Texas Ale Project’s Payne Pils: 8.
Noble Rey’s Bridesmaid’s Tears: 8.
Collective Brewing’s Urban Funk House: 8.
Lakewood’s On Call: 8.
Oak Highlands’ Golden Mustache: 8.
903 Brewers’ Crackin’ Up: 8.
Deep Ellum’s Play Date: 8.
Rahr & Sons Brewing Company’s 11th Anniversary Russian Imperial Stout: 8.
Bitter Sisters’ Belgian Tripel: 8.
Noble Rey’s SteamPunk: 8.
903 Brewers’ Citra On Top: 8.
Bitter Sisters’ Hissy Fit: 8.
BrainDead’s Gritz: 8.
Community’s Barrel-Aged Inspiration : 8.
Cedar Creek’s Fisticuffs: 8.
Lakewood’s Punkel: 8.
Four Corners’ El Chingon IPA: 8.
Martin House’s Day Break: 8.
Deep Ellum’s GOURDzilla: 8.
Peticolas’ The Duke (Aged 12 Months): 8.
Deep Ellum’s Pale Ale: 8.
Revolver’s Bock: 8.
903 Brewers’ Sasquatch: 8.
Peticolas’ Wintervention: 8.
Armadillo Ale Works’ Brunch Money: 8.
Martin House’s Salsa Verde: 8.
Cedar Creek’s Spinning Mule Robust Porter: 8.
Lakewood’s Holiday Bonus: 8.
Lakewood’s Hop Trapp: 8.
• Cedar Creek’s Grapefruit Haze: 7.75.
TUPPS Full Grown Man: 7.75.
3 Nations American Wit: 7.75.
Armadillo Ale Works’ Dapper Apple: 7.75.
Chimera Dirty Dog: 7.5.
Legal Draft’s Accused Amber Lager: 7.5.
Grapevine’s Reserve Tart Cherry Berliner Weisse: 7.5.
Martin House’s Stars Above: 7.5.
Grapevine’s Prickly Pear Wheat Ale: 7.5.
Bitter Sisters’ Knock Out: 7.5.
Four Corners’ Notorious O.A.T.: 7.5.
Noble Rey Golden Rey With Raspberries and Ginger: 7.5.
On Rotation Saved By The Belma: 7.5.
True Vine’s Unicorn’s Revenge: 7.5.
Deep Ellum’s Hop Seeker: 7.5.
Four Corners’ El Super Bee: 7.5.
Lakewood’s Hopochondria: 7.5.
Three Nations GPA: 7.5.
Martin House’s Rubberneck Red: 7.5.
Lakewood’s Antigoon’s Revenge: 7.5.
Community’s Texas Pils: 7.5.
Lakewood’s Zomer Pils: 7.5.
Cedar Creek’s Dankosaurus: 7.5.
Cedar Creek Brewery Clover Kicker: 7.25.
Noble Rey Sex In A Canoe: 7.25.
Oak Highlands Brewery’s Oktoberfest.: 7.25.
Deep Ellum Rye Pils: 7.
3 Nations Mango SMASH IPA: 7.
Legal Draft Chief Justice Stout: 7.
Manhattan Project’s Plutonium-239: 7.
Backcountry’s Texas IPA: 7.
Backcountry’s Double IPA: 7.
Rahr’s Visionary: 7.
Shannon Brewing’s Irish Cream Ale: 7.
Oak Highlands’ Guava Good: 7.
TUPPS Brewery’ Northbound 75: 7.
Rahr & Sons’ Iron Joe: 7.
BrainDead’s I Like Harvey IPA: 7.
Martin House’s Turtle Power: 7.
Collective’s Petite Golden Sour: 7.
Shannon’s Chocolate Stout: 7.
BrainDead’s Red Ale: 7.
Community’s Razzy Raspberry Witbier: 7.
Martin House’s Gateway Blonde Ale: 7.
Bearded Eel’s Purple Unicorn: 7.
Noble Rey’s Off The Leash: 7.
Shannon Brewing Company’s Irish Red: 7.
Texas Ale Project’s Somethin’ Shady: 7.
Deep Ellum IPA: 7.
Cedar Creek’s The Lawn Ranger: 7.
Martin House Brewing Company’s Cellarman’s Reserve IPA (Amarillo).: 7.
Lakewood’s Till & Toil: 7.
903 Brewers’ The Chosen One: 7.
903 Brewers’ Sugar On Top: 7.
Martin House’s Gateway XPA: 7.
Armadillo Ale Work’s Quakertown Stout: 7.
Revolver’s High Brass: 7.
Community’s Pale Ale: 7.
Oak Highlands’ Chump Change: 7.
Martin House’s River House: 7.
Grapevine Craft Brewery’s Sir William’s Brown Ale: 7.
Community’s Funnel Cake Ale: 7.
Audacity’s Boss Raptor IPA: 7.
Martin House’s Queen of the Mist (Prickly Pear): 6.75.
Three Nations Texas Xmas Hazelnut Ale: 6.5.
Martin House’s The Juice: 6.5.
Collective Brewing Project’s Mom Azacca: 6.5.
Four Corners’ La Lechuza: 6.5.
Revolver’s Ironhead IPA: 6.5.
903 Brewers’ Trot Line: 6.5.
Four Corners’ Celebración: 6.5.
Peticolas’ Operation Collaboration: 6.5.
Grapevine Craft Brewery’s Nightwatch: 6.5.
Peticolas’ The Duke: 6.5.
Deep Ellum’s Double Brown Stout : 6.5.
• Cedar Creek’s Maui Wowie: 6.25.
On Rotation’s Mexican Barleywine: 6.25.
Wild Acre’s Tarantula Hawk: 6.
Martin House’s Kafkaesque: 6.
TUPPS’ Cotton Mill Gold: 6.
Rabbit Hole’s Tweedleyum: 6.
Rabbit Hole’s Off With Your Red: 6.
Cedar Creek’s Elliott’s Phoned Home Pale Ale: 6
Grapevine Craft Brewery’s Lakefire: 6
Armadillo Ale Works’ WunderMelon: 6
Deep Ellum Pale Ale: 6
Lakewood’s Troll Toll: 5.5.
Martin House’s Hell Below: 5.5.
Lakewood’s La Dame Du Lac: 5.5.
Woodcreek’s Lakeside Cerveza: 5.
Martin House Cuvee Pumpkin Latte: 5.
Intrinsic’s Crunktoberfest: 5.
Martin House’s Mind On My Money: 5.
903 Brewers’ The Land Of Milk And Honey: 5.
Deep Ellum’s Numb Comfort: 5.
TUPPS’ Day Off: 4.75.
Four Bullets’ Black Jack Brown: 4.5.
Audacity’s Checkered Past: 4.
Four Corners Heart O’ Texas: 4.
Audacity’s Sunset Boulevard: 4.
Shannon Brewing Company’s IPA: 4.
Grapevine’s Monarch: 4.
Good Neighbor Brews Slim Sweetness: 3.
Twin Peaks’ Dirty Blonde: 3.
Franconia Wheat: 3.
903 Brewers’ Mythical Creatures: 2.5.
Miller Lite: 1.
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