Thursday, November 20, 2008

HaandBryggeriet Haandbaak review

HaandBryggeriet HaandbaakADon't let the name of this beer put you off. Just because you can't pronounce this beer doesn't mean you shouldn't try it. This beer actually came as a recommendation from the beer geek at Liquor Max in Loveland Colorado. Nick stated that they had just gotten bottles of this beer in and he had heard this was a great example of a sour ale. I had to try it. Today I'm reviewing a beer called HaandBryggeriet Haandbaak from the HaandBryggeriet brewery in Norway. Yes, they do ship beers from Norway to the US! There's a reason to my madness for selecting this beer - I'm a big sucker for wood-aged sour ales these days. Ever since I got my hands on some New Belgium La Folie a year or so ago I've been hooked on sour ales.

HaandBryggeriet Haandbaak is classified as a sour lambic. It came in a 16.9 oz (500L) bottle and weighs in at 8.5% ABV. This beer was originally brewed in September 2006 and aged in Norwegian wood barrels. It was finally bottled on March 22, 2008 so it's been around a while. Seeing how this is an aged beer and imported from Europe it costs a slight premium. This bottle just over a pint in size cost $9.89 with the 10% discount I got. So this isn't going to be your everyday beer you drink but rather a beer for a special occasion.

Appearance: Haandbaak poured a dark burgundy color, almost plum brown. It was cloudy and while the 1st pour didn't have much head, the 2nd pouring had a much better head on it and had an off-white foam. It poured fizzy with a decent amount of carbonation to it. I must admit I love the size of this bottle. It's just right for a single serving or enough for two if they've never tried a sour ale before.

Aroma: This beer has a classic sour smell which reminded me of La Folie. I detected a slight vinegary aroma but that's expected from a sour lambic. You could also pick up on some woody overtones as well. Later, I could detect a slight cherry or sour apple aroma and slightly acidic.

Taste: Upon the first sip, it seemed to attack the tip of my tongue with a sour tartness that I can only describe as sharp. This beer was tart, sweet, sour and had a dry finish. It tasted well when chilled. As you drink more of it, the taster really grows on you fast. It's as good as I had hoped it would be. In fact I believe I like this beer more than the New Belgium La Folie.

When I swished this beer around in my mouth, it left a nice sour taste on my lips. This is a beer worth savoring. The sour taste lasts and lasts well after you swallow it. I love this! I could feel the alcohol kick in early. I suggest you roll this beer around in your mouth a bit before swallowing. It was interesting to see how the beer affected every part of the tongue. Even when I burped, it brought out an intense sour flavor.

Overall: If you love sour beers as much as I do now, I highly recommend you try this beer. HaandBryggeriet Haandbaak may cost a bit more than other beers but it is well worth it. I'm giving this beer a very very big THUMBS UP and a definite repeat buy recommendation. Drink this beer slow to savor it while it lasts. Well done Norway!

Related articles:
- Oud Beersel Kriek Ale review.
- GABF Video tasting notes.
- New Belgium La Folie review.

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