HaandBryggeriet - Haandbakk
- ABV: 8%
- Serving Temperature: 43–51° F
- Suggested Glassware: Tulip, Flute, or Pinot Glass
Where HaandBryggeriet’s modestly sized Tindved is more of a sparkling, effortlessly dense tart ale—full of lemons and lighter stone fruit—their Haandbakk goes off in a very different direction. The leather, dense red fruit, and wine-barrel influences conjure both sour reds and browns from Belgium, with a nicely assertive presence from both wood and wine elements.
With its higher alcohol and darker core notes, we’re seeing a ton of sour turf over two beers.
This pours a dark, murky brown sugar, with golden edges and a subtle reddish hue varying as the light changes. The murkiness is typical of these dense, wine-barrel-aged beers—conjuring port and barley wine—while a modest off-white foam caps things, then lingers as light lacing around the perimeter. Overall this looks like (and proves to be) an intricately layered pour, as early aromatics of bright wood, tart red fruits, and spritzes of juicy lemon land immediately.
The nose on this feels perfect to us: mouthwatering, with that jolt of acidity and well-ripened red fruit, while avoiding any messy chalkiness or less-endearing fermentation qualities. Plush, full notes of strawberry and cherry seem to pervade everywhere, offering a jammy while still hugely fresh fruit character that basically lines things. Notes like charred oak, a hint of fruity and warming alcohol, and hints of darker bitter malts serve to provide a balancing bitterness. The aroma continues to unfold as this warms, showing more middle malts and deep cherry.
Everything coalesces in those initial sips. The tartness levels, for us, were vibrant and super-enlivening, while still maintaining great levels of drinkability. As noted above, we found this both mouthwatering and especially dense, from wide-ranging berries and red fruits to some secondary aspects of underlying caramels and brown sugar. The overall package is seamless, with acidity, fruit, and a subtle focus of soft oak and vinous qualities circulating underneath. Haandbakk rivals some of the finest sour reds and browns that we’ve enjoyed from Belgium over the years, and yet it still feels unique in execution, with massive berries and fruit leather.
With a year or two of aging behind this beer already, our Rare Beer Club members should be confident in allocating HaandBryggeriet’s Haandbakk some cellaring time. Those now-subtle elements of core caramel and oxidation will gradually expand, likely nudging aside some fruit from center stage as time goes on. We immediately singled out this one as a great option for Thanksgiving: with the acidity, lively bubbles, and fruits well suited beside grilled turkey.
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