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Beer # 29 – January 29, 2010: Hennepin

January 29, 2010

Beer: Hennepin

Brewery: Brewery Ommegang, Cooperstown, New York

Style: Saison

Serving Type: 12 oz bottle

Price: $9.99 / 4-pack

Availability: Year-round

Glassware: Pilsner glass

Strength: 7.7% ABV (alcohol by volume)

Drinkability: One of those rare beers that works for almost any occasion and so many pairings.  Light and crisp enough to enjoy on a hot summer’s day barbeque, but interesting and complex enough to savor on a cold winter’s night with a warm bowl of curry.  Easy to drink, but has depth and substance, much like a fine champagne.

Tasting Notes

Appearance: This beer has a pale golden hazy hue with a big white foamy head.  Tiny bubbles constantly rise to the top of my glass.

Aroma: Herbal hops, spicy, with a touch of funk.

Mouthfeel: While the color is light, this beer has substance.  It is a little thick and chewy, but with fizzy carbonation to lighten the overall impression.

Taste: There is a consistent mild clover honey sweetness that continues throughout the depths of flavor in this beer.  Grass, green herbs meld with a spicy snap of ginger and pepper, while mild fruit flavors of green grape and crisp apple start to come forward, and a touch of lemon peel too.  There is a little wild funkiness in there that reminds you that this is a traditional farmhouse ale, fresh and earthy.  The finish is somehow simultaneously bitter and sweet.

Pairing: So many choices: spicy Thai curries, Indian curries, Mexican seafood dishes, a simple roasted lemon chicken, funky pungent cheeses, salads, grilled shrimp… each pairing brings forward different flavors and aspects of this beer.

Trivia: Saison is French for season, and this is a beer that traditionally spanned the seasons: brewed on local farms in fall or winter, then stored until summer to quench the thirst of farmworkers in the midday heat.  While brewed with the basic ingredients of malted barley, sometimes wheat, hops, water and yeast, the complexity and diversity of flavor comes from specific strains of yeast that provide the spicy and funky flavors.

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