Jesse Hughey
Our cloning technology is clearly in the early stages of development.

Hennepin Saison Vs. Homebrew Clone

This Sunday as part of Central Market's Brewtopia beer marketing drive, the Dallas location is offering a

homebrewing workshop from 3 to 5:30 p.m.

The class is only $10 and offers the opportunity to purchase Central Market's homebrew kits.

Whether the course proves useful or is simply an extended sales pitch for the equipment remains to be seen. Either way, after tasting the attempted Ommegang Hennepin saison clone that my wife, a friend and I worked on, I realized that I need some guidance with my efforts. Then, a conversation about homebrewing with Jeff Fryman  yesterday at The Common Table over a flight of Mikkeller IPAs made me even more aware of just how crude and jerry-rigged my own kitchen set-up is.

As you can see from the picture, Hennepin and our take on it don't have much in common in the visual department. Taste-wise, they had some similarities. Certainly not identical twins, but perhaps fraternal.

OK, cousins. Distant cousins.

Obviously, our clone was much darker in appearance, the shade of an old penny, with a weak, short-lived head, as opposed to the bright golden, cloud-topped original.

Along with a very noticeable ginger smell, the nose of our clone had a definite funkiness that I've come to associate with homebrew. There's just been something slightly off about all three of my batches, regardless of the style. It may be the syrupy malt extract, the only common ingredient other than my home's tap water. It's definitely not as pleasant as the lighter, subtly spicy, grassy lager-ish nose of Hennepin.

Tastewise, ours has a heavier sweetness, with raisiny, pruney dark fruit notes that don't suit the style very well. The ginger taste is far more noticeable in ours, which I actually like. Could be toned down a bit, but it helps offset the sweetness and heaviness. The recipe we followed called for a full ounce of dried ginger root and an ounce of bitter orange peel, which seemed like an awful lot of ginger.

Comparing the body and finish made our clone seem like another species altogether. Ours was thick and had very little carbonation, while Hennepin is super-light and crisp with more hop bite at the finish and a lively Champagne-like carbonation.

Sales pitch or not, the class Sunday can only help.

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