Hoppy session beer from one of the Queen City’s great new craft brewers.
Rhinegeist brewery, Cincinnati, OH
By Bill Lau
Posted July 5
As noted in my previous post, my preferences in beer have turned in a sessionable direction for the summer and our typical midwest heat and humidity. I’m looking for less filling beers of modest alcoholic strength, so that I might enjoy more than one without becoming impaired or feeling full. Yet I am an unrepentant hophead and love heavy doses of those great Pacific Northwest hops. Thankfully, craft brewers around the country have answered the bell and are providing the perfect solution – heavily hopped session ales.
What qualifies as a session beer? 5% ABV or below seems to be the generally-accepted range. And yes, it is still possible to pack a lot of flavor into a beer of that modest strength. Packing lots of flavor into their beers is something that Rhinegeist has demonstrated a great ability at doing. Literally the “ghost of the Rhine”, Rhinegeist brews in a former Moerlein bottling plant in the historic Over-the-Rhine brewing district near downtown Cincinnati. It’s wonderful to see the brewing tradition there revived and carried on. Their brewing philosophy is self-described as hoppy/sessionable, which is exactly what I’m looking for right now. So, with that background, let’s explore Zen, shall we?
Zen pours from the can a brilliant, clear honey-golden hue. A short-lived head of near-white foam dies down to a thin cover and ring.
Aroma is of citrusy hops – orange zest with a bright lemony note. A very fresh, floral note in there as well.
Body is on the lighter side of medium with fine carbonation bead and a fizzy quality.
Flavors start out hops-forward with delicious citrus notes of orange peel and grapefruit rind, with a tartness and bitter bite. Lightly caramelized malt underneath has some fresh graininess. Loads of flavor yet very drinkable and moreish. Big hoppy finish with a touch of lime zest late and a lingering resinous aftertaste. Gets my bitter beer face on (which happens to be a big-ass smile, BTW). Nicely hoppy session ale, thirst-quenching and flavorful.
Rating: Appearance: 4/5 Aroma: 8.5/10 Palate: 4/5 Flavor: 8/10 Overall: 16.5/20