Notes from the Underground
Brewery Ommegang Cave Hennepin (2000)
Pale orange-gold, big frothy head with lace, yeasty bouquet with dried apricot aroma and trace of corkiness , complex dry spicy, delicate champagne-like flavor. Medium-full body with alcohol notes, fine dry fruity finish. A wonderful beer.
Brewery Ommegang Hennepin (non-cave aged) 2001
Similar color, head is not as full or dense, very fruity/yeasty nose, spicy fruit flavors and low hops, with a medium-full body, evident alcohol, and much more fruit and sweetness in the finish. Excellent, but not as stylish as the cave version.
Alaskan Brewing Company Big Nugget Barley Wine 2001 (keg sample)
Seville orange color with low carbonation, low to moderate head, sweet malt aroma with phenolic whisky notes, sweet but simple sugary malt flavor, moderate hop bitterness. Medium body (light for a barley wine) with a sweet, peaty finish. Very drinkable but not very complex.
Kanne Grottenbier Bruin, Belgium
Deep copper red with huge oatmeal-colored head, dry spicy yeast, fruit, and caramel aroma and flavor. Medium body with a pleasing light acidity and a dry, somewhat tart finish. A very fine Belgian dark ale with a lot of complexity and finesse.
Klaster Premium Lager, Klaster Brewery, Czech Republic
Brilliant yellow-gold; huge, frothy head with large bubbles; well-carbonated; sweet, sulfury malt nose with some hop notes. Clean malt flavor with firm hop backbone. Medium body with crisp dry hoppy finish. A well-made Bohemian-style pilsner.
Klaster Dark Lager
Deep mahogany-brown color with a thick oatmeal-colored head. Sulfury caramel aroma with some stale, oxidized notes. Sweet burnt caramel/molasses flavor and some grainy bitterness. Medium body, fairly low alcohol (4 percent ABV) and sweet finish. Quite drinkable, but not a very memorable beer.
Alan Moen, the editor of Northwest Brewing News, writes about beer, wine and spirits in Entiat, WA.