Sense of Place


By Jan Walsh
Photography by Beau Gustafson

Wine lovers have memorable wine moments. The first taste of an extraordinary wine can turn a wine drinker into a wine lover, who then seeks to develop a more sophisticated wine palate. Thus, drinking wine can never be the same.

I just had that same aha moment with beer. I have always enjoyed beer with some foods, such as a burger or pizza, and on occasion I have been impressed by French and Belgian brews. But I have never been wowed by a beer until I tasted Blackberry Farm’s Fall Saison, which is hoppy with complex, layered fruity and citrus notes.

The beer is one of a box of the farm’s beers that I was sent for tasting. Given how extraordinary the fall brew tastes, I couldn’t wait to taste the Winter Saison, so I opened it too. Perfect for winter nights, the beer’s Abbey-style character has notes of roasted malt, dark fruit, and chocolate. The Classic Saison is also lovely. Both earthy and crisp, it reveals citrus and spice notes.

Blackberry Farm Brewery’s saisons are inspired by the traditional Belgian farmhouse ales and reflect the changing seasons in East Tennessee. All saison family beers feature a floor-malted barley base. Other Blackberry Farm saisons not yet tasted include Spring, Summer, New World Cuvee Dry Hop, and Noble Cuvee Dry Hop. These and their other beers are cellaring in my wine—now wine and beer—cellar. All Blackberry Farm Brewery’s beers are packaged unfiltered and with 100 percent bottle re-fermentation, producing natural effervescence that is suitable for cellaring. And like sparkling wines Blackberry Farm Beers are closed with corks and cages. The beers are available locally at restaurants and retail.

Blackberry Farm first began producing beer in 2011, selling to Blackberry Farm resort guests and a few select restaurants in the Southeast. As demand increased, the farm moved into a larger production facility in 2015 and expanded distribution. In addition to Saison, Blackberry Farm Brewery produces three other families of beer: Abbey, Native, and Barrel, along with special releases. The Abbey family was inspired by classical monastic traditions of refined, unhurried processes and highly sourced ingredients.

The Native family offers a wide range of styles and flavors but all include native wild yeasts harvested from across Blackberry Farm’s 9,200 protected acres. And Blackberry Farm Barrel Family brews boast premium ingredients and are fermented with a variety of yeast strains. Their complex flavors are further developed by aging in wine and spirit barrels.


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