Posts Tagged With: ommegang

Two Stouts, a King, a Monk, a Stone and Three Philosophers

No, they did *not* all walk into a bar.

Actually, I suppose they did.

Bells ExpeditionBells Expedition Stout

We start with an opaque black glassful with a brief brown head. From a foot away the aroma reminds me of chocolate milk. Moving closer it delivers massive malt and a roasty earthiness with a hint of brandy. The flavor leads with roasty malt and hints of charred oak, but this needs to warm up about 10 degrees . . . okay, now it’s richer and deeper with more balanced malt, and that touch of chocolate is back, lingering into a very smooth finish with just a hint of spicy hops. 10.5% ABV

Captain Frost MonsterCaptain Lawrence Frost Monster

In honor of April snow, a winter creature visits. Almost opaque dark brown with a brief brown head ringing the glass. The aroma is of spicy hops, cake malt, roast grain and a vanilla hint. Medium to full in body, the flavor reminds me of bitter Mexican chocolate with roastiness like lightly scorched grain. There is substantial bitterness on the finish, along with hops and very dark malt. 12% ABV, 65 IBU

Konig Ludwig Weissbier HellKonig Ludwig Weissbier

Once reserved for the royal family, “Royal Bavarian Hefe-Weizen,” this pours a cloudy golden straw with a moderate bubbly white head. This German style features a yeasty aroma of stone fruit rather than the banana of the Belgian equivalent. That aroma concludes with a little burst of noble hops. The fruit gets stronger on the palate, moving into biscuit malt with a touch of caramel. The finish is very crisp with a clear hop note to tie it all together. 5.5% ABV.

Spencer2Spencer Trappist Ale

The only American Trappist ale–the only one brewed outside Western Europe–the label says “Pair with Family and Friends.” It is apricot gold with a generous buttermilk-colored head and lots of effervescence. The nose gives biscuit and cake malt with slight stone fruit and light earthy hops. The flavor leads with crisp apple and good malt, continuing into a malt and stone fruit finish. This seems like the Trappist single that only the monks get in Europe, rather than the Trappist dubbels and triples (and occasional quads) that are exported to the U.S. 6.5% ABV

021416_EnjByUNFILTERED_22ozR2Stone Enjoy By 02.14.16

No, these are old notes, not an old bottle! An unfiltered IPA, it’s effervescent, hazy gold with a generous yellowish head. Very distinct hop aroma–showing I don’t know my hops–all hop, pine & citrus. Ah, from the website I see that there are twelve different varieties of hops! No wonder I couldn’t identify them! It then gives a creamy mouthfeel with leading sweetness, then the hops come in with great flavor. The malt emerges and carries the flavor into a balanced hoppy finish. 9.4% ABV 90 IBU

ommThreePhilosophersOmmegang Three Philosophers

Deep amber in the glass with a moderate orangey head. The nose is super malty with quiet stone fruit and a little hop zing. This is followed by a delicious caramel or toffee mouthful, wine-like with an undertone of peach or apricot. It has a very smooth finish of hops and malt and fruit. Outstanding! 9.7% ABV

Image couresy of Stone Brewing Co.
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Winter Beers, Round III


We’ve just about run out of winter, at least here in the Tri-State Area, so I have to rush to get in the last winter beers.

The Shed Mountain AleThe Shed Mountain Ale

This is a brown ale with a brief off white head, as malty as an English ale should be. The flavor gives full-bodied caramel and toffee with a lightly roasty undertone and moderate English style hops (the notes say Mt Hood & Northern Brewer). It has a nice caramel finish dried by hops. 7.4% ABV

Victory Winter CheersVictory Winter Cheers

“A celebratory wheat ale” this pours cloudy straw with a generous foamy white head. The nose is yeasty and estery with banana and stone fruit plus a distinct but subtle spiciness. On the palate comes sparkly refreshment with a touch of cloved orange. The finish is long and lightly spicy with almost a hint of cinnamon, dry, but retaining that estery quality all the way. 6.7% ABV

21st Fireside Chat21st Amendment Fireside Chat

“Winter Spiced Ale,” dark brown in the glass with a moderate off tan head and an aroma of spiced fruit bread. The mouthfeel is soft, the flavor is earthy, almost meaty, with roasted grain and dark malts. The finish gets very dry as substantial hops come in, a nice finishing bite. On further sips, sweetness develops in the flavor and spice increases on the finish. This is a 50-degree ale, not a 40-degree brew. 7.9% ABV 45 IBU

ommLovelyDarkAndDeepOmmegang Lovely, Dark and Deep

“Oatmeal stout winter ale,” this pours opaque brownish black with a persistent moderate tan head. The aroma is so roasty it almost crosses to tobacco, then come rich malt and a hint of smoke. The flavor starts with smoke, almost ashy, with malt building in. It makes me think of rauchbier and that persists into the finish. Never sweet, it dries out more on the end. 5.3% ABV

Founders Project PAMFounders Project PAM

A Backstage Series beer, a Black IPA, this delivers maple syrup & bourbon, inky brown with a brief off tan head. It delivers a rich bourbon nose over deep malt, then a maple-and-malt flavor blending with the bourbon then persisting into finish getting sweeter. 10.8% ABV

Troegs The Mad ElfTroegs The Mad Elf Ale

“Ale brewed with honey and cherries,” it pours clear chestnut with almost no head, just a light pinkish ring. The nose? Cherry soda with a hint of biscuit malt. The aroma left the expectation of cherry soda and the flavor is not far from that, just adding a base of malt and a smooth layer of honey. The finish holds both cherry and honey but adds a spicy hop note. Pleasant sipping and good follow up to the Great Lakes. 11% ABV and not a hint of that strength. This stuff could be dangerous!

It has been a mild winter of good beer, let’s look forward to a nice spring with more of the same!

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Happy Hoppy Holidays!



This is a time to share with family and friends (after the frantic shopping, of course). Once the shreds of wrapping paper settle to the floor, what better way to celebrate than to savor some treasures of Christmas, pint by pint? Here is some of the wealth of choice, a round dozen brews. Enjoy the season!

Sam Smith Winter WelcomeSamuel Smith’s Winter Welcome

Here’s a pint of winter warmer, straight amber with a smooth off white head. Looks like an ale! The aroma is of malt malt malt with fruity notes and just a touch of spicy hops or spice and hops. I need to let this warm a tad, it should be cellar temperature rather than refrigerator temperature. Almost an ideal ale, to my taste, perfect for savoring in a pub. 6.0% ABV

Bruery 8 Maids-a-Milking

This is an Imperial milk stout, nearly opaque brown with a moderate tan head. The nose is hard to describe with almost a bacon note with liqueur and dark malt. The flavor is like maple smoked bacon with nice notes of both maple & smoke. It’s very smooth but not exactly to my taste. Give me some sharp cheddar and things will balance right out. 11.5% ABV [Switching from this to a maple porter (not reviewed here) produced a shot of chocolate that I didn't get in either beer, fading into a light smokiness.]

Sierra Nevada CelebrationSierra Nevada Celebration

They say “First brewed in 1981, Celebration Ale is one of the earliest examples of an American-style IPA and one of the few hop-forward holiday beers.” It pours yellowish amber with a moderate yellowish head. The nose leads with hops before malt, nice resin and citrus blend over a bed of biscuity malt. There is a nice body and light effervescence on the palate followed immediately by hop bitterness, plenty of hops throughout the boil. The finish is mild emphasizing the hops. The number of hop-forward holiday beers is rising, but this is a leader. 6.8% ABV, 65 IBU

Deschutes JubelaleDeschutes Jubelale

“A festive winter ale,” dark brown and ruby with the light behind it and a generous foamy light tan head. The nose is malty, both bread and caramel with roastiness and a hint of chocolate. It’s a rich mouthful of malt with chocolate, coffee and a liquor note. The flavor is actually not so much coffee as Louisiana coffee with chicory. There’s vanilla as well. The finish is smooth, some dark plummy fruit emerges and the flavors come together in balance. I could drink quite a few of these. In fact, I had a six-pack (not all at once!) unlike my usual singletons. 6.7 ABV 67 IBU

Bells Christmas AleBell’s Christmas Ale

Pours slightly cloudy amber with a medium yellowish head. The aroma is gentle, bread & cake malts with hop spiciness. It has a very malty flavor, fairly light body and light effervescence. There is moderate bitterness in the finish. This is a good straightforward ale, not fancy, and its holiday “spice” comes from hops and barley. This would pass the test of the Reinheitsgebot. A Christmas ale for real ale fans. 5.5% ABV

The Shed Mountain AleThe Shed Mountain Ale

Not specifically a holiday beer, it’s a solid brown ale with a brief off white head. As malty as an English ale should be, it delivers full bodied caramel & toffee with lightly roasty undertones. This is accented by moderate English-style hops, the notes say Mt. Hood & Northern Brewer. It has a nice caramel finish dried by the hops. 7.4% ABV

Victory Winter CheersVictory Winter Cheers

“A celebratory wheat ale” this pours cloudy straw with a generous foamy white head. The nose is yeasty and estery with banana and stone fruit plus a distinct but subtle spiciness. On the palate comes sparkly refreshment with a touch of cloved orange. The finish is long and lightly spicy with almost a hint of cinnamon, dry, but retaining that estery quality all the way. 6.7% ABV

21st Amendment Fireside Chat21st Amendment Fireside Chat

This “Winter Spiced Ale” is dark brown with a moderate off tan head and an aroma of spiced fruit bread. The mouthfeel is soft and the flavor is earthy, almost meaty, with roasted grain and dark malts. The finish gets very dry as substantial hops come in, a nice finishing bite. On further sips, slight sweetness develops in the flavor and spice increases on the finish. This is a 50-degree ale, not a 40-degree brew. 7.9% ABV 45 IBU

Founders Project PAMFounders Project PAM

This is a black IPA with maple syrup & bourbon, inky brown with a brief off tan head. It delivers a rich bourbon nose over deep malt. It continues with maple-malt flavors blending with bourbon and persisting into the finish getting sweeter on the end. I was curious about the name, and I simply have to quote what they say about it:

Venture into the shadows of our brewers’ minds and discover their mad genius. From this unknown emerges Project PAM. In development for years under a shroud of secrecy, this Black IPA is brewed with a cornucopia of hops then aged in maple syrup bourbon barrels to add complex oaky bourbon notes and the sweetness of maple syrup to keep the bitterness in check. Like its creator, the origins of its name will forever remain a mystery.

ommLovely Dark DeepOmmegang Lovely, Dark and Deep

They call this one an “oatmeal stout winter ale.” It pours opaque brownish black with a persistent moderate tan head. The aroma is so roasty it almost crosses to tobacco, then rich malt comes in with a hint of smoke. The flavor starts with smoke, almost ashy, with malt building in. This makes me think of rauchbier and that impression persists into the finish. Never sweet, it dries out more on the end. 5.3% ABV

Great Lakes Christmas AleGreat Lakes Brewing Christmas Ale

Pretty chestnut in the glass, tinged amber with a very brief off white head. The nose is spicy-fizzy, if that makes sense, with cinnamon & ginger. On the palate there’s plenty of malt and just a hint of barnyard below the spice. It has a light ginger ale body with increasing spice as it flows into the finish, with and light honey sweetness that grows from sip to sip. I like it more from sip to sip. At the very end some hops dry it out. Quite drinkable–refreshing–though not outstanding. From the body and freshness you might think this is sessionable, but it won’t be a very long session. 8.5% ABV 30 IBU

Troegs The Mad Elf AleTröegs The Mad Elf Ale

“Ale brewed with honey and cherries,” this pours a clear chestnut with almost no head, just a light pinkish ring. The aroma is of cherry soda with a hint of biscuit malt.This left an expectation of cherry soda and the flavor is not far from that, just adding a base of malt and a smooth layer of honey. The finish holds both cherry and honey but adds a spicy hop note. It’s pleasant sipping and a good follow up to the Great Lakes. 11% ABV and not a hint of that strength. This stuff could be dangerous!

I doubt I’ll get in another blog post before Christmas, but hopefully these will tide you over. Happy holidays and a happy, healthy New Year!

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good pint!



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Hall of Fame Beer!



Brewery Ommegang

It’s autumn, it’s the baseball post season, and thoughts turn to Cooperstown and the Hall of–wait a minute–my thoughts turn to beer, and Cooperstown’s Brewery Ommegang has been one of my favorites for years. Now Cooperstown comes to Nanuet with a tasting at Growler & Gill. Mind you, I’d be delighted to visit the brewery in the fall . . . or any other time.

2005 FALL 8in _4

NirvanaIPA_Mar30_V1Nirvana IPA

Since Ommegang is famous for its Belgian styes, Nirvana is a change of pace. So what do we get? Slightly hazy rose gold with a generous–if brief–white head. It starts with a nose of piney hops with citrus over light malt. It shows much more biscuity malt on the palette but still with plenty of hops, nicely balanced. Lingering restrained hops flow through the finish, fairly bitter but with a hint of honey. 6.5% ABV

ommWitteWitte

Now we move to classic Belgian, very hazy straw with a moderate to generous foamy white head. The aroma is yeasty with lots of banana & peach, then comes a lovely estery mouthful, silky, with light effervescence. A little hop bite leads the finish, then a light sweetness. More than satisfactory! 5.2% ABV

Grains of Truth

Apparently this is the same recipe as last years Scythe & Sickle, which wasn’t especially memorable. It’s amber with a fairly generous white head. The nose is light malt with a hint of caramel. There is more flavor than suggested by the nose with lots of bready malt. The finish is light with a touch of banana. Maybe it suffers by following Witte, but really there’s not much going on. 5.8% ABV

ommThree PhilosophersThree Philosophers

This is a Quadrupel described as “98% ale with 2% ale with cherries added.” It’s dark garnet in the glass with a medium fine-grained yellowish head. There’s a rich liqueur nose with lots of dark fruit, yeast, and dark malt with a hint of sourdough. The first sip is a mix of brandy and port, followed by a silky foamy mouthfeel with tangy banana over caramel malts and a pervasive cognac highlight. Lots of malt supports ongoing black cherry with spicy hops in the background. The finish is smooth, fruity and quiet with nice biscuit malt. 9.7% ABV

ommHennepinHennepin Farmhouse Saison

Described as “Ale with spices: Grains of paradise, ginger, coriander and sweet orange peel,” this pours hazy golden straw with a big fizzy white head. The aroma is spicy and yeasty with an herbal tang. On the palette, spices play tag with hops and there’s a strong presence of “botanicals” like a good gin. Crackery malt carries all of this and continues into a gentle finish as hops dry out the end. This almost defines “saison” for me, the mix of varied spices, herbs and malts. 7.7% ABV




So, can a TV show inspire a beer? A series of beers?



ommGoTbox

Brewery Ommegang and HBO are partnering on a series of beers inspired by the critically-acclaimed drama Game of Thrones. Launching ahead of the season 3 debut . . . Iron Throne, a blonde ale, is the inaugural beer in the series and the result of a creative collaboration between Brewmaster Phil Leinhart and HBO.

ommIronThroneIron Throne Blonde Ale

The first of the Game of Thrones series, and the only one I had not had before, so “Thank you!” for releasing it again. This pours straw with a generous white head supported by ample effervescence. It has a nice Belgian nose of yeast, bananas and hops with plenty of crackery malt underneath. The flavor is fairly light but complex with citrus and peach esters, spicy hops and a varied malt backbone. The finish takes these and adds enough hops to firm things up. Never sweet, things end even a bit drier. 6.5% ABV

ommTakeTheBlackStoutTake the Black Stout

It’s black all right, with a big head of big dark tan bubbles. Starts with chocolate & coffee on a very light nose with a slight chemical note. As the beer warms, that note becomes smoky wood. Bitter flavor like very dark espresso with very dark chocolate, with almost a burnt note. The finish smooths right out and the harshness ebbs away leaving pleasant cocoa and roasty malt. This seems to be the weakest of the five GoT beers so far, but definitely don’t drink it too cold. 7% ABV

Ommegang logo alternate - Circle red

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Three-Eyed Raven

From Ommegang and HBO comes the fifth beer in the Game of Thrones series: Three-Eyed Raven, a Dark Saison. This invents a style, so it can’t be judged along those lines. For those who follow the series, perhaps it needs no introduction, but from the Ommegang website:

From the darkness I watch you. All of you, all of your lives, with a thousand eyes, and one.

ThreeEyedRaven
As a beer, this pours opaque black with a ragged tan head. It gives a nose of bread-malty caramel with a spiced fruit character. Slightly foamy on the palette, it is initially crisp then malty then spicy then fruity, ending with a touch of roasty and smoky. All of this is subtle, and on balance this is a gentle, quaffable beer. I had expected much greater intensity, but probably I shouldn’t expect that of a saison. So here we have a subtle roasty saison at the opposite end of the spectrum from a sour saison. It’s easy to drink and would surprise those who think that a dark beer has to be heavy or coffee-bitter.

If you’re in the mood for a subtle brew, this is very good. I was expecting something more, or at least something else. On balance I would say that this is a good beer, but not a special beer. For me, this comes in behind Fire & Blood and Valar Morghulis, and slightly ahead of Take the Black Stout. (I never tasted Iron Throne.)

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Of Hops and Spices and Bourbon

Here we have a mixed bag, rather than a theme or a single brewery. I think of it as a wealth of choice.

SierraHarvestSierra Nevada Harvest Single Hop IPA

In their Harvest IPA series, this shows off Equinox hops in whole-cone dry hopping. In the glass it’s golden with a creamy golden tan head. The nose shows the complex spicy herbal hops over malt, and the flavor delivers butterscotch, malt and hops. It has a sweet finish and mild bitterness. It’s rated at 55 IBU but this is moderated by the good balance. 6.5% ABV, 55 IBU As their website says, “Equinox is part of our five-bottle Harvest series, which features single hop, fresh hop, wet hop, and wild hop beers.”

SierraCelebrationSierra Nevada Celebration Fresh Hop IPA

Moving along, “Fresh Hops are the freshest dried hops to come from the fields, typically within seven days of harvest.” Honey amber in the glass with a generous, persistent head. Earthy citrus & pine hops on a subtle nose, perhaps a hint of pepper. The flavor is malty followed immediately by bitter hops. Perhaps slightly bland flavor but then a significant hop finish. My surprise of December was finding this beer for sale at the lobby bar of Radio City Music Hall. I had not come in with much hope of finding a decent beer, and instead I found a very good one. 6.8% ABV 65 IBU

OmmSpicedSaisonOmmegang Spiced Saison

This is a collaboration between two breweries owned by Duvel, Boulevard Brewing and Brewery Ommegang. It pours pale amber with a generous, creamy tan head, persistent. The nose is farmhouse funky, rich and yeasty with a fruity spiciness. It’s nicely effervescent and once again spicy on the palette with citrus and caramel. The finish gently continues these themes. This is a fruity saison rather than a sour one. Very nice. 7.2% ABV, very low IBU.

ChimayDoreeChimay Dorée Ale Brewed with Spices

In the glass you have pale amber with a one-inch head. The lightly yeasty nose has just a ghost of spice. The spice arrives for real on the palette as a tang amid mouth-filling effervescence, but still relatively subtle. Malt is obvious as is a bready quality. There are quiet waves of spice on the finish. It’s a bit lighter than most Trappist ales. This is the spiced version of their “Gold” ale, originally reserved for the monks and guests of the abbey. This is a good beer, but I can’t say I like it more than, say, their Dubbel, and in fact I prefer the fruitiness of the Dubbel. Perhaps it was just too subtle for me or I was just in the mood for a heavier, perhaps hoppier brew. 4.8% ABV.

FoundersBackwoods2Founders Backwoods Bastard

Pours walnut brown with almost no head. Bourbon leads the nose followed by molasses and malt. Very rich and palette coating with more malt, less bourbon than the nose, and a woody tang. Sweetness comes in and then hops arrive abruptly on the finish after hiding to that point. I find myself savoring each sip, almost chewing it. Solid 10.2 ABV, 50 IBU

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Cooperstown: Beyond Baseball

omm3x2

Brewery Ommegang




ommHennLabelHennepin Farmhouse Saison

Baseball may be out of season, but Cooperstown’s Ommegang never is. Their Saison is hazy pale gold with lots of head. The yeasty nose comes with a hint of lemon cream. More yeast and citrus on palette with plenty of malt and some sweetness. Finish is malt leading to a touch of hops and a certain dryness. 7.7% ABV, which seems quite high for a Saison.

ommAbbeyAbbey Ale

This Dubbel pours with a rich, thick, tan head, easy to overpour. Rich nose too, full of yeast and fruit, maybe even melon. Arrives with a fine mouthfeel; you can practically chew it. On the palette there’s sweet malt, faint effervescence, and fruity undertones of cherry and raisin. Finish is long, sweet and malty. 8.2% ABV

ommWitteWitte

2″ white head and hazy straw in the glass. The nose is classic Weizen with citrusy yeast. Crisp with spicy nutmeg and coriander with rich malt. It has a gentle spicy finish. 5.2% ABV, their lowest.

ommThreePLabelThree Philosophers

This is a Quadrupel Ale with a bit of Kriek added. Pours brown with an inch of light coffee head. Nose not as yeasty but giving toffee and coffee and wine. Crisp subtle complexity, not as sweet as the Dubbel. Coffee and roasty malt on the palette, and dusty coffee on the finish. 9.7% ABV

ommScytheLabelScythe & Sickle

Yields a sand colored head over amber. I get an orange spice nose, and orange spice palette with complex malt and dry hops coming in. Ommegang calls this a harvest beer, and Beer Advocate names the style as Bière de Garde. 5.8% ABV, one of their lowest.

ommAdorationAdoration Dark Winter Ale

Pours dark amber to brown with a light coffee head. The nose is full of yeast and coffee and spices and the spices increase as it warns a little. On the palette this is rich and mouth filling with toffee sweetness balanced by malt, subtle hops and spices all around the edges. Definitely good for the winter season. Would play off well with caramelized dishes from ribs and steak through sweet salad dressings and even gingerbread. As you can tell, I like this a lot. 10% ABV, their strongest.



ommRareVosRare Vos

They call this a Cafe Ale. It pours medium amber with pale tan head. There is a spice-cake nose with bread building in. The mouthfeel is creamy, and the flavor is slightly sweet, slightly orange, and distinctly spicy. Some herbal hop bitterness comes in on the finish, more so than many Ommegang offerings. 6.5% ABV

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Valar Morghulis

ValarMorghulisPours red-gold with a generous head mixing large and small foam bubbles. On the nose it leads with a bit of sour apple moving quickly to dark bread and Belgian yeasty goodness. There’s an earthiness to it and some hop spikes popping through. Mouth-filling and fizzy but deeper and–again–earthier than, say, a hefeweizen. Strong fruitiness to it, like plums, dates, and apple, then a chocolate note comes in and the malt backbone makes itself felt. There’s a certain sweetness, and notes of clove and other spices. The finish continues these notes like a musical theme, and there’s a dark undertone well-suited to the name.

For those who don’t know, the translation from High Valyrian: “All Men Must Die.” I’d rather put that off for a long time, and meanwhile pair this with some rich cheeses. This is the fourth in the series of Ommegang’s collaborations with HBO for “Game of Thrones.” I did not have the first of these, the pale ale Iron Throne. I had and enjoyed the Take the Black Stout. I had and *really* enjoyed Fire and Blood, called a “specialty grain” beer where the bill includes wheat, rye, and spelt. Now we move on to a Dubbel Ale, and my love for Belgian styles makes this my favorite of the series. This is a beer to go with a hearty meal, or it can be a hearty meal in its own right. 8% ABV

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