Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ommegang Hennepin

I'm breaking form with this review. Usually, I review beers I've never had before, or if I have I don't reveal my opinion before the review, but in the case of Ommegang Hennepin it was actually quite necessary. You see, this is a beer I've never been able to wrap my head around. It gets high ratings on the big beer websites, but I've never understood why. Dan Harper of seems to have a similar taste in beer as me, so I sent him a bottle of Hennepin. Now we can find out if this beer is a little overrated, or if I'm just crazy for not loving it.

   AROMA 6/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 13/20
Chad9976 (642) - Albany, USA - AUG 17, 2011

I poured a 12oz bottle into an oversize wine glass.

Appearance: Bright yellow hue like a ripe banana. Fairly hazy, but translucent enough to see plenty of fine Belgian-style carbonation. Forms a large, bright white, foamy head which retains well but doesn’t leave much lacing.

Smell: Sweet and sour aromas of lemon, "farmhouse funk" of wild yeast, wet hay, and some freshly-milled grain.

Taste: The first thing I notice about Hennepin is not the flavor as the drinking sensation. The foam from the head literally swells up in the mouth like taking a bit of cotton candy. It’s dry with a subtle lemonpeel sweetness and black pepper spice. Once the beer coats the tongue it’s very classic Belgian farmhouse ale style with a light palate of tart lemonade followed by a dry combination of ground black pepper and rubbing alcohol. It’s a very dynamic, almost confusing palate for my senses to comprehend. I enjoy the subtle citrusy flavors (although they’re nothing like what you’d find in an American IPA), but the sheer aridness of the classic saison style is a little annoying.

Mouthfeel: Although the liquid itself is thin, the mouthfeel is certainly not flat. The carbonation is very intense and it’s difficult not to burp after every swig. The aftertaste is mostly clean but there is a slight pastiness to it.

Drinkability: Weighing in a 7.7% ABV, Ommegang Hennepin is actually bigger and bolder than most saisons, but you’d never know that from drinking it. The alcohol is not prominent in the nose or the constitution of the beer. Although it does suffer, in my opinion, from being too carbonated and too dry to enjoy in and of itself. I think paired with grilled fish or chicken and even salad this would really work as a functioning beverage since it’s really not that refreshing on its own.

Overall, I just don’t get why Hennepin is rated so highly but I don’t think it’s a bad beer at all. While it’s not to my tastes, I can fine plenty of redeeming qualities about it and do give it a thumbs up (but that’s it).

Grade: 6/10

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