Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Hakim Stout

After I got home from a long day's work, my wife, her parents, and I went decided to go to dinner, but we didn't want the usual fare. So we decided to hit up Zagol, Reno's new 2-month-old Ethiopian restaurant, for a taste of something a little different. The food was excellent and the honey wine was delicious. But what really intrigued me was the "Ethiopian beer" listed under the drinks menu. I had a choice between a light and a dark (our waitress didn't know the names offhand), and since I've been in the mood for dark beers, I chose the latter.

What arrived at my table was a 330 cl bottle of Hakim Stout, a beer out of Harar, Ethiopia. It is brewed by the Harar Brewery, which also produces a pale lager named for the town and a non-alcoholic beer that is primarily marketed towards the Muslim population. Apparently, this brewery used to be owned by the Ethiopian government along with three other breweries, but they have since been turned over to the private sector. Also, it's the only brewery that sells abroad, which is why I was able to pick one up in the states; it can also be found in Canada, the Netherlands, and neighboring Djibouti. Not much info exists on Hakim Stout, or of the history of the brewery, although I did find an e-mail form I may have to use to ask for additional information. You can too, as I'll provide the link after this sentence. (Ethiopian Privatization Agency: The Beverages Sector, US Embassy in Ethiopia's 1998 Report on Beer Brewing in Ethiopia, Contact Harar Brewery Share Company)

Since I'm a big language nerd, I noticed the bottle had some Amharic (Ethiopia's language) on it. I transliterated it and it says "Hakīm Stāwt", which is pretty straightforward.

Here come the stats:

Hakim Stout
BREWERY: Harar Brewery Share Co., Harar, Ethiopia
STYLE: Stout
ABV: 5.5%
FOODS TO PAIR WITH: Ethiopian food, I assume

The brewery, style, and ABV came from the bottle. Maybe I can get an e-mail from Ethiopia soon for the rest.

The first thing I noticed about this beer is that it was a lot lighter in color than most other stouts I've had; it looked more like an amber, as it had a dark amber color, but was slightly translucent. It's head was a tannish color, and it's smell was very fruity. The taste also had a hint of fruit in it, but I noticed a pronounced honey taste in the beer mixed in with its carbonation. It was unlike any stout I've ever tasted. The aftertaste was a strong coffee flavor that was a little bitter, but it faded away over the course of a minute or so.

All in all, a surprisingly good beer. Not a great beer, but a good beer to go with maybe some lamb or beef or injera (spongy bread). Pick one up at Zagol (if you're in the Truckee Meadows) or your favorite Ethiopian or pan-African restaurant.

T'chen chen!