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12 Beers of Christmas: Hennepin

Reading Time: 2 minutes read

‘Tis the season for Christmas-related beer posts, so we put together a collection of beers to review for the next 12 days, up to and including Christmas. These aren’t all holiday beers, though. In fact, only one of them is. And it’s not this one. Today, we’re kicking off the series with Ben’s review of Hennepin, from Ommegang.

Father Louis Hennepin, a Franciscan Priest, is credited as being the first European to discover Niagara Falls, and as such, this beer is named after him. As the actual inhabitants of the land had known about the waterfall forever, it’s kind of like going to Duff’s in Buffalo and claiming “I have discovered a new recipe for chicken wings, and I shall call it… the Buffalo Wing!” Disregarding the typical European arrogance of ‘discovering’ something that everyone knew about already except you, Hennepin is a somewhat appropriate name for this Belgian-ish beer, as the good father was born in the “Spanish Netherlands”, in what is now Belgium.

Well, enough heckling; let’s get to the beer. Purchased at AJ’s beer warehouse in Henrietta, NY; it has a bottled on date of 07/09/14. Five months of bottle aging has made a decently fine brew. Hennepin gets a Beer Advocate score of 93, so I’m not the first one to like it. Poured into an Ommegang glass and a Duvel glass, it quickly formed a fluffy marshmallow head of about half the glass. The second pour made for a beautiful, ice-cream float head.

Hennepin 2

Look; The appearance of the beer is a bit cloudy, golden in color. It gets cloudier if you end up pouring the lees (which I did) into your glass in an attempt to create more beer where there is none. The look is pure Belgian. Or new-world Belgian, if you prefer that.

Smell; The aroma is very interesting. Yeast, citrus, and a hint of grains of paradise in the nose. When smelling the bottle, there was also a touch of Riesling aroma. When Meagan tried to nose it, it stuck to her nose. Kinda like an albino Rudolf.

Taste; This is where it starts to get good. I tasted some grain, a brett-like flavor, crisp orange and grapefruit, pepper, and a touch of apple. I didn’t taste the coriander and ginger that the label promised, but there was a hint of heat, either from the ginger or the melagueta pepper.

Mouthfeel; I would say medium body, but I really need to recalibrate after the barleywine tasting earlier this month – everything seems thin. Still, I trust my instincts enough to say medium body. High, champagne-like carbonation.

Overall; I would have to pin this down as a refined, delicious concoction that most half-assed farmhouse ales would love to grow up to be like. With a decent alcohol content of 7.7%, it does ask you to sip and savor, rather than quaff and splutter, so take your time, enjoy it.


Beer Advocate

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Pacific Northwest native, travel and craft beverage writer. Exploring the intersections where beer (and coffee and spirits), food, travel and culture meet.

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