Friday, May 07, 2010

Beer of the Week (Vol. LIV)

Another edition of Beer of the Week brought to you by the intrepid folks at Glen Lake Wine & Spirits who can help you explore the wide world of wine, whiskey, and beer.

Father Louis Hennepin was definitely a man who left a mark:

Father Louis Hennepin, O.F.M. baptized Antoine, (12 May 1626 c. 1705) was a Catholic priest and missionary of the Franciscan Recollect order (French: Récollets) and an explorer of the interior of North America.

Hennepin was born in Ath in the Spanish Netherlands (now in the province of Hainaut, Belgium). In 1659 Béthune, the town where he lived, was captured by the army of Louis XIV of France.

At the request of Louis XIV the Récollets sent four missionaries to New France in May 1675, including Hennepin, accompanied by René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle. In 1678 Hennepin was ordered by his provincial superior to accompany La Salle on a voyage to explore the western part of New France. Hennepin was 39 when he sailed in 1679 with La Salle from Canada through the Great Lakes aboard Le Griffon to explore the unknown West. Local historians credit the Franciscan Recollect friar with being the first European to step ashore at the site of present-day Hannibal, Missouri.

Two great waterfalls were brought to the world's attention by Louis Hennepin: Niagara Falls, with the most voluminous flow of any in North America, and the Saint Anthony Falls in what is now Minneapolis, the only waterfall on the Mississippi River.

Hennepin never returned to North America and died in Rome.

Today, there's a town in Illinois that bears his name. You can can't swing a dead cat around these parts without hitting something connected to Father Hennepin's exploits of discovery, be it a County, an Avenue, a Bridge, a State Park, or an "island" and city park in Minneapolis.

There's even a song by Brian Setzer about the man and the bridge that carries his name:

Father Hennepin went down to Benningan's
To discuss the construction of the Hennepin Bridge
He had time to kill down by the flour mill
So he planned a picnic lunch on St. Anthony Main

Now Father Hennepin he was notorious
And he liked a little drink down al Nye's Polonaise
His explorations were more than glorious
So they planned to build a bridge that would feature his name

Well first Niagara and then St. Anthony's
Were discovered by the fella with the Hennepin name
But when the lock was filled on the lower falls
Everyone was shopping on the Nicollet Mall

And when the rope was cut on the Hennepin
Father Louis had a most unusual plan
He would take a dip in the Mississippi
He would dive from the center and swim to the dam

When the time had come and he took the plunge
Everybody screamed, "My God! What has he done?"
And though he tried to swim, the current carried him
Closer and closer to the brink of the falls

The people lined the banks of the Mississippi
To watch Father Hennepin go over the edge
The people there that day, they all swear they say
Father Hennepin was laughing as he fell to his death

Setzer obviously took a few liberties with history with his lyrics. Artistic license and all that.

In addition to all this, there's also a beer named after the wandering man of God. From Cooperstown, New York--a place known for a bit of history itself--we have Hennepin Farmhouse Saison from Brewery Ommegang.

Shapely 12oz brown bottle. Busy but eye-catching label with a lot going on in the fore and background. Nicely captures the brewery's and the man's European origins.

Beer Style: Saison Farmhouse Ale

Alcohol by Volume: 7.7%

COLOR (0-2): Bright white and full. Good lacing. 2

AROMA (0-2): Fruit and sweet malt scents with spicy overtones. 2

HEAD (0-2): Whitish gold and very cloudy. 2

TASTE (0-5): Like the smell with citrus, banana, and sweet malt flavors nicely complimented with spices and a touch of hops at the finish. Medium bodied with a smooth mouthfeel. 4

AFTERTASTE (0-2): Smooth follow through. 2

OVERALL (0-6): Saison is usually not one of my favorite styles, but Ommegang's Hennepin is an exceptional offering. Flavors are pretty rich so it goes down a little slow. But it's well worth savoring every sip. Glen Lake sells Hennepin Saison in four-packs of 12oz bottles, which is a good way to enjoy this excellent beer. 4

TOTAL SCORE (0-19): 16