Beer Review – Benno by Stift Engelszell

Beer: Benno

Brewery: Stift Engelszell (Austria)

Style: Saison (6.9% ABV)

Rating: 7.5 (on a 1-10 scale)

Price: $5.99 for 12 oz bottle

Notes: Stift Engelszell is the newest Trappist Brewery, which means it is a brewery owned and operated by Monks.  Unlike the other seven Trappist Breweries that are located in the Low Countries (Belgium & Netherlands) Stift Engelszell is located in Austria.  At the present time they make two beers, Gregorius, which is a quad, and Benno, which is a Saison.  Both beers are brewed with honey.  To the best of my knowledge Stift Engelszell is the only Saison brewed by a Trappist Brewery.  My review of this beer is as follows.

The color is murky brown with orange highlights, sort of the color of dark honey, with a big 3 finger head of cream colored foam.  The light can get through but you can’t see through it any more than you could Ohio river water.  The smell is Brettanomyces (Brett) yeast funk, hints of sugar and some spices (cloves?).  It’s very pleasant on the nose, and it has me looking forward to the first taste.  The Brett flavor is also present in the taste mixed with some sweetness from the honey and some restrained bitterness from the hops.  I have to say the tastes didn’t seem very complimentary to me at first, but it grew on me with each drink.  I went from underwhelmed on the first drink to lamenting the fact that the beer was gone on the last drink. The mouthfeel is thick and chewy, quite nice, with a reasonably dry finish.  This is definitely a Brett forward beer, reminiscent of an Orval but distinct (thicker, a little sweeter).  Saison is a pretty broad style category, but it is not clear to me Saison is the right category for this beer, somewhere between a Saison and a Belgian Pale Ale.  If you like beers with distinctive Brett characteristics and you don’t mind shelling out $6 for a bottle this is a definite must try.  This will not be the last time I try Benno.

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