Fearful Symmetries

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02 February, 2016

A Midwinter's Ale: Huitzi by 5 Rabbit Cervecería

Chicagoland's 5 Rabbit Cervecería really seems to be feeling its oats. They have a shiny new webpage and have revamped their marketing with new beer categories. And they have no shortage of new beers either. I have said it more than once but I will repeat it here that I am a big fan of 5 Rabbit. The cervecería penetrated the Cheddar Curtain and began distribution here in Wisconsin last year. Unfortunately they don't appear to be shipping their core annual – The Fives – here yet. That's too bad because I find 5 Lizard, a "Latin-style" witbier, and 5 Vulture, an "Oaxacan-style" dark ale, to both be outstanding beers.

Instead we are getting the more limited brews with bottles of their ChocoFrut beers, fruit-flavored stouts, gracing store shelves. Today, however, I am reviewing Huitzi ("wee-tsee"), a self-styled midwinter ale. It's a Belgian golden ale by style that was brewed with hibiscus, ginger, chamomile, and honey. The beer is no longer brewed and it seems that early batches omitted the chamomile. My bottle was purchased in the autumn of 2014 and has been sitting in the dark in my cellar ever since. It's 8.7% A.B.V. and I felt it a suitable candidate for a gentle aging regimen.

I promise that, once warmer weather returns, my photos will get better. Either that or I'll take some time to backlight my pictures. Until then you'll get a thousand words and I will start off by saying that Huitzi (short for Huitzilopochtli, the Aztec god of war) pours a lovely dark gold with a pronounced reddish tint from the hibiscus. It was rather cloudy but this may be the result of aging as my last pour was rife with sediment. Huitzi was nicely effervescent. My pour produced about a ¼" of light tan head that hung around for a little while and there were lots of bubbles inside working their way up.

The aroma was intriguing with the hibiscus and honey standing out. But there were also those fruity Belgian yeast esters and a touch of malty sweetness. Huitzi had a medium body that was flush with the typical tasty Belgian ale fruity flavors from those esters/phenols along with the accompanying dryness. Atop this were the botanicals. The chamomile stood out here but the hibiscus wasn't too far behind and they gave a slight bitterness. Ginger was relegated to the background where it added a little bit of earthy flavor along with just a smidgeon of that malty sweetness that I caught in the aroma.

The finish had the floral tastes lingering and joined by some alcohol heat as well as a moderate amount of grassy hop bitterness. Sadly, my glass was left with no lacing.

Truth be told, I do not drink Belgian ales very often. And so Huitzi was something of a treat for me in that sense. I really enjoyed the herbal/floral taste here from the hibiscus and chamomile. They are nice flavors but here they tacked a course that complemented the fruity flavors as well as the dryness that the yeast provided while still standing on their own. The small alcohol burn in the finish certainly helps in midwinter and those hops offered more botanical tastiness. Huitzi is a fine way to chase away Jack Frost while also offering hope that spring is not that far off.

Junk food pairing: If you are lucky enough to still have a bottle of Huitzi around, be sure to have some Chicago mix popcorn with it when you pop it open. You'll get the saltiness and mellow cheese from the cheesy popcorn that will enhance the botanical in the beer while the caramel corn will add a little sweetness and body.

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|| Palmer, 7:45 AM


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