Woodline | Fox Farm Brewery
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How do we get some of the beers for the show? I trade for them. Back when I started beer trading, it focused more on trying beers that did not get distributed to your area. Yes, it usually involved festival and/or brewery only barrel-aged beers, but they were attainable (basically) as long as you attended the festival. No F5-ing or being part of a beer membership. One of the nice regular things about trading happens when you expand the trade.
One expansion of a trade I fondly remember. I don’t have any idea what the main part of the trade was, but a small expansion was offered to me of two Tree House growlers. I got to pick out of three he had, one of which was Julius. This was 2014, well before Julius (and Tree House) completely blew up.
That throw-in on a trade for something I’ve since-long forgotten wound up being the beer my friends and I raved about at a tasting featuring many barrel-aged stouts and the like. I ended up getting some Fox Farm beers – including Woodline – in a similar way. As I negotiated a trade for some OEC bottles, I felt it made sense to expand it a little bit, and Fox Farm came up, so I said sure. Along with some fruited sours for a future show, my trade landed me a host of cans, ranging from kellerbies to IPAs to stouts.
Zach Adams opened Fox Farm Brewing in 2017 with his wife Laura and brother Dave. Adams won a Samuel Adams Longshot homebrewing contest in 2012 (with a West Coast IPA) and started seriously thinking about opening a brewery. A dairy farm houses the brewery, while a renovated barn has the taproom. (Fun fact: Neighbor to the former dairy and current brewery – Rachel Robinson, wife of Jackie!) Distribution remains only in Connecticut. While not everything used in the beer exists on the farm, fruits added to the beers are.
Woodline is Fox Farms’ oatmeal stout “unencumbered by adjuncts.” No other information about it really exists online. Simple and to the point. Woodline pours pitch black with a half finger of head that stays on the outer rim of the beer. Some brown highlighting exists, but this beer remains dark.
Despite not having any adjuncts, you would guess that it did. A light roast coffee fills the room after you pour it. That light roast dominates the sniff, but some bitter chocolate actually meets the aggressiveness of the coffee. Slight notes of vanilla round out Woodline, but the balance of coffee and chocolate are the stars here. No barrels or adjuncts, remember!
The chocolate takes over once you dive in. And we’re not talking sweet chocolate here either. This comes off as a very bitter, high percentage of cacao dark chocolate. How would I know? I recently ate a piece of 95% dark chocolate. It was very, very bitter and had an ashy taste across the tongue (would not recommend). Thankfully, a light roast note hits your palate and cuts that bitterness a bit, making it much more enjoyable. The oats finally show up, granting a lovely creamy mouthfeel and also assisting in keeping that bitterness in check. Those oats also impart a much bigger-than-the-beer-suggests mouthfeel, making the medium carbonation feel bigger as well. Despite being 8.3% ABV, it doesn’t drink nearly that big, letting the oats and the mouthfeel – rather than the alcohol – to do the heavy lifting.
Summing this one up in a word: classic. Oatmeal stouts used to be made like this, with malts giving off the different aromas and flavors and the oats there for the mouthfeel. That bitter chocolate might put off some, but the roast balances it off nicely. After finishing about half the can you’ll get used to the bitterness and start enjoying it even more. It drinks much lower than the 8.3%, plus Woodline warms you up quite nicely – perfect for when a cold snap with lake effect snow threatens your city for what feels like a month.