Got this one in a rare beer gift pack and the majority of the brews in that collection have been underwhelming. This "Amber Animal," did not WOW me but as I worked my way through the nice looking bottle, it earned my respect.
I have said it before many, many, many times. Drinking really cold craft beer is rarely a good idea. A beer should be left to breath and acclamate toward room temperature. But for all the beer I have written about, all the blog entries I have written and all the reviews on all the sites...this beer is the paramount of that emphasis. Let this beer warm to about 10-15 degress below room temperature. Yep...that means about 50+ degrees. If you don't, you are wasting the opportunity this beer offers.
Scratchin' Hippo is a really clean tasting beer that has some interesting aspects. It does a couple things really, really well. I love the "Belgian-style" yeast used here. It is a smooth yeast but robust. It is 100% present but the beer is not "yeasty." When consumed at the right temperature this beer has wonderful mouth feel with a semi-thick body that bubbles in the mouth but clings to the cheeks. The nose gives us a slight banana scent with light orange and cinnamon. The head is a creamy off white with tight foamy bubbles. It is a joy to have those bubbles hit the tongue. The flavor is really nice. It is a mild white tasting beer with a caramel note that gives it color and significant interest. It is kind of a clever mix between a clean witt and a not so nutty amber. And it is able to kind of meld the best of those two styles.
This reminds me A LOT of some beer I had in Zurich about 10 months ago at a 1000 year old bar...not kidding. It was a really old bar. It also reminds me a little of a beer I had outside of Paris several years ago. BTW, Paris sucks for beer and they will be the first to admit it. Zurich is serious about German beer and German purity laws but I had a semi-yeasty dunkle that I really liked and, to be honest, it was the only beer there I thought was worth remembering. Scratchin' Hippo reminds me of that. And as I am writing this I read on the bottle that this is a French farmhouse ale. Cool. Whatever...just a little not important info.
When I first tasted this beer, I was not impressed. But as it warmed and as I gave it a chance and placed it into context, I really let it grow on me. It is a really good Belgian style beer for me because it takes that Belgian yeast flavor but cuts off the edges and incorporates it into a amber style beer with that thicker mouth cling and less yeatsy aroma and bite. As I said earlier, I received this beer in a subscription that was gifted to me...and I have not liked many of those subscription beers. But, this beer is good...quite good. It is one of those beers that accomplishes what it intended to do. I am a fan and while I doubt I will see this beer again, I would not hesitate to buy it.
Full Brewery Name: Adelbert's Brewery
Brewery Location: Austin, Texas
Alcohol by Volume(ABV): 6.8
Drinkability: Moderate - Sessionable