With the Herculean Parrot Belgian Strong Ale project in the works, I decided it was a good idea to launch the BruRevu with a round of Belgian beers. Partly because I have little exposure to this style, but mostly because I have to come up with 40+ corked Belgian beer bottles to put the HP BSA in. (Yikes!)
Some years back, my extremely good friend, Jake, gifted me with a three-bottle set from Brewery Ommegang. Ommegang is a Belgian brewery in Cooperstown, NY. I’m just going to let that settle in for a moment. You may associate Cooperstown with Baseball. But beer people associate it with Brussels. The three beers included in this set were the Hennepin Farmhouse Saison, Chocolate Indulgence, and Three Philosophers Triple. This review will be of the 2008 Hennepin Saison.
I’d been holding onto this beer since Christmas of 2008. I’ve not really aged beer before, but felt these would be good candidates. Keep the age in mind through this review.
Eyes: The Hennepin Saison pours from a 750ml corked and caged Belgian bottle as a bright amber. I stored this sideways and don’t think all of the yeast settled back to the bottom from when I put it in the fridge to chill. The first pour was crystal clear but clouded up somewhat as the yeast snuck into the pour. Still, the golden amber was very inviting and “rustic”. Head was creamy white and thick, but not fluffy. It clings to the sides rather well, but does not “lace” much. Eventually dissipating to a thin foam.
Nose: Nose is very thin. This could either be from the long aging or the fact that I have a late-summer cold. The aroma seems to be lightly plastic, but not in a repelling way. There’s a little spice and maybe some fruit, but it’s not the prominent component.
Tongue: At first, this beer comes across as rather bitter; not from hops. Rather, it seems to be an alcoholic bitterness. There is a good base of citrus and maybe … I don’t know; figs maybe? Hennepin came across as a little one dimensional until I was about half-way through the first pint. Spice began to present itself. Maybe a little pepper. There was some late-presenting malt. Definitely grainy, but not sweet. Perhaps this was through the temperature of the beer warming up over time. Still, I would have liked a little more fruit in a saison.
Mouth: There is a little bit of solvent to the mouthfeel. It lends to the spiciness of the beer. The higher alcohol level of this beer definitely provides a good burn and astringency, but not in a bad way. This isn’t a liquor burn; more of a comforting warmth.
Overall: Despite the solvency and slight metallic taste, this beer is very drinkable. Most of the flavor comes through AFTER drinking and in the after taste. This would be a great beer for an October evening at a bonfire or barn party. This bottle could have been aged a little long. It was still a great beer!