Poperings Hommel AleJuly 1, 2001 Poperinge, Belgium
Brouwerij Van Eecke
Imported by: Win-It-Too Inc., Santa Barbara, CA
Available: All US states
The name for this brew was taken from the local Belgian word used for hops, “hommel”, which is presumed to have been derived from the Latin word for hops, humulus. Appropriately, Poperings Hommel Ale has almost twice the bitterness of other Belgian beers. The brewery brews its beer with only locally grown hops from two families in the Poperinge area, and with soft water from its own well.
Original gravity: n/a
The beer starts with the presentation of a good, sturdy head structure and a soft, smooth clicking sound as that collapses. The wonderful aromatics are a special delight because even the hops are noticeable—unexpected in such a beer—flaunting the cloudy and yeasty delight of a wit beer, but matching that with the force of a fine tripel. One could easily become addicted, especially as the Curaçao orange brings out the best in this brew. Fresh farmer’s feta cheese would certainly enhance the enjoyment of this very well-made beer.
- Fred Eckhardt
The beer leaps into the glass, hazy gold (with a hint of green?), raising a pillowy white head. The aroma is bright and complex with interwoven hop, fruit and spice aromas. Bitterness is moderate, giving way to a soft, sweet malt center that dries out in the flinty finish. The slightest warmth gives away the strength. Like so many Belgian ales, this beer is its own animal, occupying a space somewhere between a saison and a tripel. It’s quite tasty and would make a salmon steak very happy.
- Garrett Oliver
The town of Poperinge is capital of Belgium’s main hop-growing region. The hop industry may be tiny, but it is viewed with affection. Hommel (deriving from the Latin humulus) is a local word for beer. So where are the hops in this refractive golden brew named after them? The huge, sabayon-like foam threatens to drown the earthy hop aromas, but eventually they emerge. There is a creamy, “confectioners’ sugar” sweetness, too, but I wonder whether some of this is hop flavor. More typically orangey hop flavors develop, then a very late, lingering, cedary bitterness.
- Michael Jackson
Fred Eckhardt lives, writes about and drinks beer in Portland, OR. He is the author of The Essentials of Beer Style and Saké.
Internationally recognized brewer and expert on traditional beer, Garrett Oliver is the brewmaster of the Brooklyn Brewery and the author of The Brewmaster's Table.
Author of Ultimate Beer, the Simon & Schuster Guide to Beer and numerous other works on drinks, Jackson has created legions of converts to fine beer.