That idea lasted long enough for me to get this bottle of Danish beer from the nearest establishment into my cellar-cum-kegerator. Then I forgot about it for a while until I needed to select a beer to write about.
Evil Twin Brewing – the opposite of Mikkeller – out of Denmark has brought us a series of attractively packaged hipster ales, each named after a fashionable locale. This particular example is named for a small village on Fanø called Sønderho, which I can’t tell if it really is a hipster district or not. However, Istedgade, which Wikipedia assures me, is trendy (no better endorsement than Wikipedia) and this is the wine barrel-aged version of that hipster, American pale ale.
Off the side of the bottle label:
This Hipster ale was aged for 4 months on white wine barrels and then dry-hopped with Citra, Summit & Cascade – perfect as a tribute to our favorite up-and-coming Hipster neighborhood [sic], Sønderho, DK. Cheers to picture-perfect white sandy beaches, the Wadden Sea and thatched-roof homes. Beware first movers!
Sønderho has a massive white grape aroma, intimating something sour. It’s oak barrel aged, which explains the eye wateringly huge Rodenbach-esque fragrance. It’s golden, super clear and shows minimal carbonation. A brief white head appears and then vanishes into a cloud of carbon dioxide. Beautiful, in it’s way.
The taste yielded a few odd noises out of me. I sucked my teeth and then took a long exhale. “Hmm”. It was a bit disappointing. You know, ‘wine barrel’ suggests deep, rich flavours. I’m not sure if pale hoppy and white wine work well together. Sønderho certainly offers a strong flavour mix of both. There’s a very strong bitterness through the middle which gets washed away by a surge of acidic white wine. The bitterness pops its head up again towards the end but is not long lasting.
Those are the two dimensions. There’s the hop character – mostly bitterness (Cascade) and I’m not getting a lot of aromatics (bit of Citra) – and wine white acidity. The brew offers up little malt backbone or yeast character. It makes me wonder what the beer tasted like pre-barrel aging – which I guess is the Istedgade Hipster Ale – and I suspect it’s very little of interest. Sønderho ends with a clean finish and minimal aftertaste.
There’s nothing wrong with this ale but, like being an actual hipster, it’s not for me. I was actually curious to see what others thought about this. Sønderho has an average of 3.7 on Untappd and a few people seemed as bemused as your correspondent. Others seemed to really enjoy it. It also scored a BAR of 2.72 on Beergraphs, which is described as “You could do better than this, but you could do worse” or 6% better than the average American pale ale.
Yeah, I’m not even sure its that.
- Genre: Pale ale
- Regionality: Fanø, Denmark
- Strength: 5.5%
- Rating: 1 / 3 taste + 1.5 / 2 ancillaries = 2.5 / 5
- Plus: Looks fantastic
- Minus: Lack of harmony between hops and barrel