Nick Carr on February 29, 2016 0 Comments Quick Characteristics Brewery: Brewery Ommegang Location: Cooperstown, NY Style: Saison ABV: 7.7% IBU: 24 Hops: Styrian Golding, Spalter Select Malts: Pilsner, Pale Special Ingredients: Coriander, Sweet orange peel, ginger, grains of paradise Appearance: Cloudy golden color with large, frothy head; Fantastic head retention; Steady carbonation. Aroma: Subdued; Wheaty malt with notes of clove, lemon, ginger & pepper; Some fruity esters present. Flavor: Sweet maltiness; Notes of lemon, peppered spice & mild coriander; Belgian funk arrives mid-palate; Subtle bitterness. Shelf Life: 2 years Suggested Glass: Tulip or Large wine glass Serving Temp: 45° – 50°F Availability: Year Round Pairs With: Sushi, Grilled Salmon, Chèvre, Ginger Custard ALE TALE The inspector stopped on the hill overlooking the farm. It wasn’t a big place. The early evening sun threw slanting rays of light across the heavy air and into a field of straw colored wheat. Bugs, dust, and plant particles rode the warm air above the summer crop and swirled in motes upon the low-slung beams. A small cottage house, an orchard, some animal pins, and a barn stood between the bottom of the hill and the field of wheat. A woman walked across the ground between the orchard and cottage, but stopped and raised a hand to shade her view, when she saw the man alone upon the hill. The inspector walked down off the hill. “Evening, Ma’am.” “Evenin.” Her voice was low and husky. “Ma’am, my name is Roddin Wakes. I’m the farm inspector.” “Know who you are. Been waitin’ most the day for you ta show.” She looked back toward the barn and orchard and wheat. Her very life spread across a patch of small ground. “Well, come on then. Let’s get this done and you on your way.” She started back toward the orchard and barn. He followed, pulling out a small clipboard while he walked. They pass through the orchard. A stand of ten trees. She stopped in the middle of the orchard and turned to him. “Is the orchard then. Ten trees half apple, half pear.” She pulled a green apple hanging low and tossed it. Caught examining the paperwork clipped to the board, the inspector nearly missed the catch. “Little tart still, but they’re commin on fine. The pears too. Can even smell em if the wind is right.” He bit into the apple. It was sweet with subtle tartness and he chewed appreciatively. A breath of air carried the fruit-heavy scent of pears in their prime. He marked a place on his clipboard. She turned and led him on to the barn. She opened the double door. He stepped in and took a long deep breath of air. Smells of earth mixed with the subtle relief of other barnyard funk and drifts of sun dried wheat coming in off the field. He wrote a note on the clipboard. Looked at the woman. “Do you have a lemon tree Ma’am?” “Um, why yes. Yes I do. At the front of the house.” “Is it producing?” “Yes, it is.” “And what about bread. Do you bake?” “Yes. Every day. I use coriander and pepper in the bread. I like the spiciness.” The inspector nods his head. “Good, good.” He made another mark, then pulled out a stamp and hit the top paper with an accretive thwak of wood bathed ink. “Ok. Sensing is done. I’m satisfied.” He handed her the top sheet of paper. She took it and glanced at the seal stamped in the bottom right corner. It was a chicken, a stylized fence surrounding it, with words scrolled across top and bottom. “Congratulations Ma’am. Your farm is now Hen Pin Certified.” THE TASTING Below are the tasting notes I took while drinking Ommegang’s Hennepin. If you tasted this beer, please share your thoughts with me in the comments below. Pour and Aroma: Pours a cloudy golden color, like unfiltered apple cider. A huge three finger head of frothy foam blows up as it is poured and I have to say, it’s one of the best holding heads I’ve had in a beer in quite some time. It dissipates slowly, but holds its own throughout the pint. Though cloudy, carbonation is readily apparent, rising off the bottom. Aroma remains on the subdued side and doesn’t seem as complex as other saisons. It does have some nuanced clove, lemon, slight ginger, and pepper spread across a wheaty malt background. Reminds me a bit of a good Hefeweizen except for the missing banana elements and the twangy presences of slight barnyard funk. Some fruity esters of pear and apple are also present. Mouthfeel and Taste: Body is medium and plays a sharp song across the palate; a consequence of the high carbonation and tangy taste. It borders on being champagne like, both in its effervescence and its drying qualities. There is a small amount of warmness on the swallow. The taste shows sweet malt at the front, combining with lemon and a generous helping of peppered spice and mild coriander. Mid-palate the earthy Belgian funk makes its name along with elements of green apple. Some rounded bitterness kicks up at the back end, staying subtle. The Swallow leaves plenty of farmhouse funk behind, some earth, with a noted grainy quality, appearing as you breathe. Finishing the Impression: Ommegang Brewery is located on an old 136 acre hop farm in Copperstown New York. It was built back in 1997 and was the first farmstead brewery built in the United States in over 100 years. They only brew Belgian ales. They take this work seriously. The yeast they use for all their beer is a strain brought over from Belgium and they’ve been propagating it since the brewery opened. Hennepin is an extremely pleasant saison. It won gold in the GABF for Belgian Style Saison in 2004 and in 2007 won gold in the European Beer Star for a spiced beer (which is really saying something). Very balanced, almost unassuming for a saison, it has all the building blocks, but they all fit together seamlessly, with no one element jumping up and down, yelling “Hey, look at me!” If ever there was a saison for those new to the style and unsure of all the weird descriptors like “funk,” “farmhouse,” and “barnyard;” this one will make the introduction a little gentler. Like sticking your head in the rabbit hole without falling through. Cheers!