What's this? I'm drinking something appropriate for summer? With the fridge presently devoid of stouts (and thanks to Bernie covering Creme Brulee already), I felt like Ommegang Hennepin would be a perfect choice. Hennepin was actually the first saison I ever tried as well as one of my very first reviews on BeerAdvocate. Ommegang does as good of a job with Belgian styles as just about anyone in the States, leading me to spring for yet another one of their awesome gift packs. Honestly, the glassware alone was worth the price of the entire box. You'll see what I mean once you scroll down. The accompanying three 750mL bottles of great beer are the type of "But wait, there's more!" pitch that dreams are made of. Getting thirsty yet? I know I am. Let's pop the cork and get to work.
Brewed by: Brewery Ommegang
Style: Saison/Farmhouse Ale
Bottle size: 750mL
How Does It Look?
As you can see above, Hennepin is a beautiful beer. I've been waiting for what seems like eons to describe a beer's color as "goldenrod," so you'd better believe I'm going to do it now. Get out your old Crayolas and compare; it's pretty close. The head reaches nearly three fingers high and displays outstanding retention. It's dense, too. It almost looks like a small avalanche (coming down the mountain) collected on top of the beer. The foam eventually dissipates and the inside of the glass is well-coated with sticky lacing. Hennepin is the kind of beer you could just stare at all day long and be completely content, but somebody's gotta drink this thing. I suppose I'll fall on that grenade.
How Does It Smell?
Hennepin has a big yeast character with just a light amount of barnyard funk. To compare within the style, it doesn't quite bring the farmhouse as hard as, say, Saison Dupont. I'm not complaining. There are copious spice notes like coriander, ginger, and pepper, and also balancing sweet and tart flavors that remind me a lot of green apple. It's an incredibly fresh and inviting aroma, exactly the kind of thing you'd reach for to slake your thirst after a long day hard at work or, in my case, doing absolutely nothing. I'll drink to that. Ever been asked what you would bring with you if you were stranded on a desert island? Take a whiff or two of Hennepin, and odds are it will crack your list.
How Does It Taste?
What I notice first about Hennepin's flavor is the balance of sweet and spice. I'm tasting sweet grains and green apples (maybe pear, too), which are countered by coriander, ginger, and pepper. The nose didn't lie on this one. Subtle earthy and tart flavors add further dimensions to this beer. Above all, Hennepin is immensely refreshing. There's a little bit of dryness in the finish that is practically begging me to take another sip, and I'm not really putting up much of a fight.
How Does It Feel?
Hennepin is medium bodied, putting it up there with Surly CynicAle as the "heaviest" saisons I've tried. The texture of this beer is quite interesting to me, because the carbonation level gives it an effervescence reminiscent of champagne – it's not quite as prickly, but it certainly dances on the tongue – yet it's still somehow creamy. In this case, having a body slightly bigger than most is a major selling point. The lasting flavor is both herbal and sweet.
How Does It Drink?
This is a truly pleasant drinking experience across the board. There are no deterring flavors, no disagreeable textures, and, to top it off, there are no discernable traces of the 7.7% ABV. In many cases, a 750mL bottle can pose quite a challenge for solo consumption. In Hennepin's case, it's but a minor obstacle. One could easily spend a summer afternoon or evening, or several, with this beer. I would love to try it on tap at some point to see how it compares. Ommegang, located in Cooperstown, NY, the home of baseball's Hall of Fame, has brewed a Hall of Famer of its own with Hennepin.
Score: 4.55/5 Pints
Thoughts about this beer? Got a suggestion for another one? Let me know in the comment box below!