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Beer Review #223 Hennepin

Today’s beer comes from Brewery Ommegang of Cooperstown, New York. It is a traditional Farmhouse Saison ale that comes in at 7.7% ABV. I was a bit confused when I looked at this bottle as it has all of the Ommegang markings, but the label says that this beer was brewed in Belgium by Duvel Moortgat, NV. According to some info that I was able to find on the net, Ommegang will outsource some of their beer to the Duvel Brewery whenever they have to do changes and/or construction on their brewery in Cooperstown. The last time that I was able to find this happening was in 2011, so I don’t know if I got an old bottle or if they are doing additional changes at the brewery.

Hennepin pours a beautiful blond color with a creamy white head. The beer pours clear out of the bottle with some sediment at the bottom. Against the instructions on the bottle, I swirled my second glass of this to see what the yeast tasted like with the beer. The nose first hits with a nice malty sweetness and then flows into a wonderful light Belgian spice. Nothing on the nose was overly aggressive and seemed to be in balance nicely.

On my first taste I was ecstatic to taste how creamy and flavorful the malt was. Sometimes Belgian beers become too much about the spices and not enough about the malt (particularly US versions). This beer had a wonderful, semi-sweet, grainy body that flowed nicely with each sip. The Belgian spices are solidly there, but well balanced with the hops. I recently reviewed another Saison that I considered to be the “poster child of what a Sasion should be” and I think this beer could fall into that realm as well.

This beer is really outstanding. Everything is in perfect balance and it is packed with flavor. I’m going to be buying another one of these beers shortly and maybe even attempting be make my own Saison. I really can’t say enough kind words about this beer. Brewery Ommegang puts out some great beers, but this might be on of their best achievements. (more…)

Beer Review #168 St. Bernardus Tripel

It doesn’t feel like that long ago when I reviewed St. Bernardus Prior 8, but it was, that was back in the summer. I had a few of the St. Bernardus beers when I was in Belgium over the summer and my taste for Belgian beers still remains. This ale is brewed by¬†Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV of Watou, Belgium (next trip to Europe Nate, next trip). One of my favorite parts of Tripels is that my wife doesn’t particularly care for them, so I get them all to myself. I also love the taste.

This Tripel pours a nice cloudy blond color and has a fluffy white head. The nose is distinctly yeasty, with some slight Belgian spice in there. As a homebrewer, you quickly learn the smell of yeast, and this beer has lots of yeast smell. I also found some really nice banana in there as well. One notable thing that I didn’t get was heat. For a Tripel and for being an 8% beer, I expected a little heat.

My first taste was packed with a really good malt flavor. There was a wheaty flavor as well which isn’t something I’ve noticed in a lot of Tripels. The banana from the nose also carried through to the taste along with the slight bits of Belgian spice. What I really liked about this beer is how delicate the flavors are composed. The flavors are really balanced but this one is much more malt forward than other Tripels that I’ve had. I still have yet to be disappointed by the St . Bernardus beers. (more…)

Beer Review #108 Karnivel Kolsch

It seems like I just reviewed a Stoudt’s beer, but their Karnivel Kolsch is their official spring beer. I think a Kolsch is a excellent style of a spring or summer beer. They are generally very delicate in flavor, and light on mouthfeel. They deliver things from both the ale and lager world. A Kolsch is an ale that is lagered, giving it similar characteristics to a lager. It has the fruity esters of an ale, with the crispness of a lager. Kolsch is a style that a lot of craft beer drinkers pass over, but it really hits the spot on a hot day.

Stoudt’s Brewing Company of Adamstown, Pa brewed a nice sessionable beer with this Kolsch. It comes in at 4.8% which makes it devilishly drinkable. This beer pours a very pale blond color and has a thin white head. To the untrained eye, it looks like a Coors Light. The nose is the first thing that would alert you that this beer is nothing like a Coors Light. It has some nice toasty and biscuity odors along with a slight hop aroma.

On the first taste I noticed a nice light malt character (good sweetness) followed by a surprisingly strong and balanced hop bite. The biscuit flavor kicks in on the aftertaste. There was some fruit flavors in there as well. The important thing to remember with a Kolsch is that it is not going to scream flavor, but deliver it in a delicate fashion. I found this beer wonderfully easy drinking and loved every part of it. It has a lot of flavor even though it is not in you face. Karnivel Kolsch should be running out in stores soon, so grab it while you can. (more…)

Beer Review #66 Wailua Wheat

I really dig Kona Brewing Company. I think it is more do to the fact that I loved the time that I spent in Hawaii, but I do love me some Kona. Wailua Wheat from the Kona Brewing Company is a wheat ale brewed with passion fruit. The bottle says that it is a limited release, but I have no idea how limited it was. I got it when I was in Texas, so it probably wasn’t super limited. I guess it falls into a summer release as it is in production from March to September. Wailua is Hawaiian for two fresh water streams mingling.

It pours a light straw to blond color and is perfectly clear. For a wheat beer there really wasn’t much head to speak of. It was pretty thin, full of tiny bubbles, and white. The nose is very sweet. You can get the fruit on the nose as well. I really don’t know what passion fruit smells like, but I think the beer captures a good fruity smell that I can only imagine is passion fruit.

Wailua Wheat has a slight biscuit flavored maltiness which is quickly taken over by the passion fruit. The two flavors then combine on the aftertaste and mix really well. There is no hop to speak of which was just fine with me. The beer is actually pretty solid for a fruit wheat beer. Usually the fruit is over the top and makes it undrinkable. Wailua Wheat is much more balanced, but as you drink more, the fruit/sweetness starts to get a little overwhelming. Not a bad beer by any means and a solid summer beer, but not something I loved. It did take me back to Hawaii for a bit, and for that I am thankful. (more…)