Ommegang’s Hennepin, aged or not, is an incredible Belgian-style saison (farmhouse ale)… so good it made it on Deron’s top 5 for the style. After enjoying both a fresh bottle and my cave-aged one, I can see why.
According to the fine folks at Ommegang, no other American brewery has utilized cave-aging in over a century, at least as far as they know.
Typically enjoyed in the summer, saisons are citrusy, spicy and if brewed well, quite complex. Ommegang’s is certainly a lovely representation of the style. The cave-aged Hennepin I picked up on my brewery trip was cellared in Howe Caverns at a depth of 156 feet. The Howe Caverns are a perfect place to age good beer because of the constant, static humidity and temperature of 52°F, all year round. This particular bottle was aged deep down below the earth for a year, from January 2008 through December 2008. It was like no other saison I’ve ever tasted.
The Hennepin, which I enjoyed at about 62°F, poured a magnificent, slightly cloudy gold-orange. The color of the cave-aged brew was much deeper than that of the fresh Hennepin, which is better described as a lighter straw color. It’s long lasting head was thick, billowy white, like a cloud. There was quite a bit of settlement in the bottom of my glass as well… I could hardly wait to slurp it up.
The nose of the aged Hennepin was far more complex, too. I detected a lot of orange and something sweet… clover honey is the best way I can describe it (HUGE honey fan). Upon sipping, the first thing I noticed was a bite of warm spice on the tip of my tongue, followed by deep-seated flavors of banana and orange. The heavenly spice that first tingled on my tongue stuck around for the entire sip, too – really lovely.
The feel of this brew in your mouth is positively incredible, too. The smooth, medium-heavy body of the cave-aged bottle seriously trumped (for me) the lighter, crisper, more carbonated feel of the fresh bottle. Of course, it is winter and I tend to go for a smoother brew, especially this time of year, so really with mouthfeel, it depends on what you like. But for me, the smoother, heavier feel of the cave-aged was positively perfect.
Both versions of Hennepin are delightful and an absolutely drinkable 7.7% ABV brew. The cave-aged bottle though, stole the show for me. I recommend it to anyone who makes his/her way to the brewery for their free tour and tasting. It doesn’t disappoint.
[techtags:OMMEGANG, HENNEPIN, SAISON, FARMHOUSE ALE, BEER REVIEW, SAISON REVIEW, HENNEPIN REVIEW, CAVE-AGED HENNEPIN, CAVE-AGED OMMEGANG]