Hennepin Farmhouse Saison Ale
Like in other walks of life, the young beer punk can be an insufferably snobby dolt who swears by the harshest beers and flicks off more moderate brews. We know because that was us—still is, kinda.
As underage beer geeks, we gave Ommegang ales like Hennepin the brush-off. Back then, the means of production for our livers' stunting was, well, stunted. We would do a flyby perusal of the beer aisles at known haunts for strong ale and then spend a good couple of hours lurking in the parking lot chain-smoking and hunting for a willing, trustworthy shoulder to tap for help. We wanted hops, tons of malts and booze percentages that surpassed 10. We wanted something that tasted like the long wait; we wanted obliterators of our taste buds, dullers of our teenage minds.
A decade later, our tastes have grown sharper and our denial of the delicate and yeasty has faded with our love of drinking in a gutter. Punk rock or not, there's something undeniably wise about exploring the less in-your-face beers to find ones that pass muster. Some with history and soul have already won us over. But American takes on tradition are a harder sell.
In the case of Hennepin—Ommegang Brewery's tribute to Father Louis Hennepin, the Belgian explorer who found Niagara Falls—we respectfully acknowledge that we may have been a little brazen, even brash. The stuff is simple and subtle, yes, but pretty damn tasty. An impressive foamy head falls out of this 750-milliliter bottle like a steady pummel of white-water rapids. As if stuck in an undercurrent, the asterisk-shaped yeast pebbles float suspended in your glass. Hoppier than we remember, this 7.5 percent ABV (alcohol by volume) brew also packs a clean, sugar-free dessert bent, like a not-so-spicy ginger snap. Less strong than we'd prefer, but perfect for fun, foamy beer mustaches at barbecues, Hennepin falls safely in the "Suds We Like to Chug" category.