I am fairly new to the homebrewing scene. What really got me excited about homebrewing was my desire to create a clone of my all-time favorite beer, Hennepin Ale from Brewery Ommegang out of Cooperstown, New York. Hennepin is a Saison-style farmhouse Belgian ale with a spicy character that is truly magnificent, at least to me. I am hoping you can help guide me in my quest.
What a unique beer! I can understand why you love it. In 1997, Don Feinberg and Wendy Littlefield opened Brewery Ommegang with the assistance of the makers of Duvel and Scaldis. It’s an authentic Belgian brewery in upstate New York.
I spoke with Randy Thiel, head brewer at Ommegang, about this beer. Randy is a fan of Brew Your Own magazine and was happy to give us help in replicating this beer. Randy told me that, as a farmhouse beer, Hennepin is made in an artistic style, rather than an industrial style. This means they concentrate more on making an interesting beer to drink than on making a style that is commercially acceptable. The Saison style is typically a fruity, hoppy, moderately-strong and refreshing ale. Hennepin is a complex beer with an initial malt sweetness followed by a dry finish. The color is light and the beer has excellent foam retention. A secret blend of spices helps to give it a unique flavor. Randy did admit to using ginger root in this beer, since that is a pronounced flavor when Hennepin is young. The ginger flavor, however, fades as it ages. To round out the spice blend, I have suggested that homebrewers use some orange peel.
Hennepin is a beer with a high original gravity and a low ending gravity — with a resulting 8% alcohol! Ommegang achieves this by using approximately 20% cane sugar in this beer, but they suggest that homebrewers try using Belgian candi sugar. For yeast, Randy suggested that you use a Belgian strain with a high attenuation and a mild ester and phenolic flavor.
For more information about Brewery Ommegang, visit their website at www.belgianexperts.com.
Brewery Ommegang Hennepin
(5 gallons, extract only)
OG = 1.070 FG = 1.008 IBUs = 24 ABV = 8.0%
- 6.6 lbs. Muntons light malt extract syrup
- 0.5 lbs. Muntons light malt extract powder
- 2 lbs. light candi sugar
- 6.5 AAU Styrian Golding hops (bittering hop)
- (1.25 oz. of 5.25% alpha acid)
- 1.75 AAU Saaz hops (bittering hop)
- (0.5 oz. of 3.5% alpha acid)
- 1 tsp. Irish moss
- 1 oz. dried ginger root
- 1 oz. bitter orange peel
- White Labs WLP550 (Belgian Ale) or Wyeast 1214 (Belgian Abbey) yeast
- O.75 cups corn sugar (for priming)
Step by step
Heat three gallons of water to boiling. Remove from heat and stir in the malt syrup, powder and candi sugar. Resume heating and bring the wort to a boil. Add Styrian Golding (bittering) hops, Irish moss and boil for 60 minutes. Add the ginger root and bitter orange peel for the last 15 minutes of the boil. Add 0.5 ounce of Saaz (aroma) hops for the last two minutes of the boil.
When done boiling, strain out hops, add wort to two gallons of cool water in a sanitary fermenter, and top off with cool water to 5.5 gallons. Cool the wort to 80º F, aerate the beer and pitch your yeast. Allow the beer to cool over the next few hours to 68–70º F, and ferment for 10–14 days. Bottle your beer, age for two to three weeks and enjoy!
Replace the light syrup and powder with seven pounds Belgian Pilsner malt and two pounds Belgian pale malt. Brewery Ommegang uses a multiple-step mash starting at 122º F and ending at 152º F. Decrease the amount of Styrian boiling hops to one ounce.