Posts tagged Ommegang
Posts tagged Ommegang
Art of Darkness Belgian Strong Dark Ale
While Ommegang’s year-round offerings are all pretty great, I’ve found their limited edition beers to be some of the New York brewery’s best, and ones that put a really great twist on their Belgian-style beers.
Art of Darkness is one of the newest of those limited edition beers. According to the label, the only thing that went into brewing this nearly 9% strong ale was a variety of barley and wheat malts and some flaked oats. Seems pretty simple, but the result is magic. (Sorry, I had to stick with the Harry Potter vibe.)
The beer pours a deep, dank brown that’s more of a black toward the bottom, but there’s no light getting through. There’s barely a half finger of head that’s gone quickly. Very strong lacing and alcohol legs, as expected.
On the nose, there are these big globs of brown sugar, molasses and figs. Definitely a thick sticky sweetness to it as well. There are also those traditional Belgian notes, with a little bit of banana and clove. Only a slight booziness to it.
The taste starts off like a champagne, with big, strong carbonation on the front of the tongue. It does a good job of opening the taste buds, which is good, since Art of Darkness has a huge range of flavors to it. Plums, figs, molasses and burnt caramel are the most prevalent tastes. But what’s the most surprising is the roasted character. There’s a big coffee flavor that really lingers on the end. It is a bit boozy, but the carbonation makes it really drinkable. And for a rich beer, the mouthfeel is surprisingly light and bubbly.
I’ve heard a lot of mixed opinions about Art of Darkness, but the first word I used to describe it was “decadent.” It’s not a especially thick beer, but it’s incredibly rich and flavorful, and extremely drinkable for bordering on 9%. The coffee finish was a really surprising and welcomed touch. You get these rich, thick flavors, but instead of just sticking on the back of your throat, you get a really nice roasted note.
Hennepin Farmhouse Saison
Continuing the trend of reviewing some of Ommegang’s year-round offerings - hey, I got a variety pack at a recent wedding shower - up next is Hennepin, the brewery’s saison/farmhouse-style ale. I love saisons, especially with this summer-like weather South Carolina has had lately, and Hennepin really hits the spot. It’s brewed with grains of paradise, coriander, ginger and orange peel, giving the usually crisp, light style a fuller flavor.
Hennepin pours a very hazy straw-yellow color. It’s topped with two fingers of a really foamy head that look like bubbles from a bubble bath. The lacing slips away pretty quickly and there really aren’t any alcohol legs.
The nose is a very light, crisp, grassy smell. There’s a very slight barnyard funk, but just barely, and not in an offensive way. There are notes of lemon peel, citrus and floral hop aromas, and a slight hint of that expected Belgian yeast along with the accompanying spices.
There’s a big bite of carbonation on the front of the tongue, followed by a huge wash of carbonation that scrubs the inside of your cheeks. Once that dies down, there’s a big taste of lemon and oranges that come through. That’s coupled with a big herbal and grassy quality. The Belgian yeast is quite strong on the back of the tongue after it settles. Only a very slight tartness, but it lingers for a while. The body is lighter, but there’s a full mouthfeel and taste.
It’s not as crisp or light as I prefer saisons to be, but Hennepin is still a nice American twist on the classic spring seasonal.
Three Philosophers Belgian Quad
I don’t remember the first time I had Three Philosophers, but I bet two things happened when I did: 1) It knocked me on my ass, and 2) I absolutely loved it. As a longtime fan of Belgians, having a style as great as a quad blended with kriek is a great combination. The rich, dark fruit qualities of the quad are giving a light and tart sweetness from the cherry flavors. It’s definitely a sipper, but one you’ll want to savor.
The pour is a murky brown color with a redish tint. There’s a finger of head, although that dissipates to film on the top fairly quickly. Pretty good lacing brought on by the bit of lingering head and some nice strong alcohol legs from the nearly 10% ABV.
On the nose is a rich bready note with a hint of cherries to it. It’s a big, chewy breadiness mixed with those classic quad notes: figs, rasins, plums and molasses. The cherry is also very prevalent, giving it that rich sweet smell. It’s more of a black cherry smell, which blends nicely with the other dark fruits. The Belgian yeast is very noticeable and strong as well.
First thing on the tastebuds is the standard quad taste with that great hint of cherry added to it. The carbonation is very strong on the front. Caramel and toffee notes are the first thing that hit you, followed by the dark fruits. It ends with a great tart cherry flavor on the back. That strong breadiness and malt blend is also prevalent on the back. There’s a very big mouthfeel that really lingers, too.
This, to me, is a “gateway” quad. While quad’s aren’t really a hard style to get into, the more you have them, the more you appreciate their different subtleties, and this is a great way to get someone started.
BPA (Belgian-style Pale Ale)
I’ve always enjoyed Belgian-style beers. For an aspiring beer geek, something such as Hoegaarden - which was one of the earliest “craft” beers I tried - can be a gateway to other, more complex styles. When it comes to stateside, Ommegang has stood with the best of them for as long as I’ve been a fan of craft beer.
The New York-based brewery has always cranked out solid beers, from their rarer releases to the year-round offerings, which include BPA. This Cascade dry-hopped pale ale blends the crispness of a pale with the smoothness the Belgian yeast imparts on any beer it’s brewed with. Having not enjoyed a BPA in a long time - and being gifted a Ommegang sampler pack at a recent wedding shower - I figured to give it another go-around.
BPA has an opaque and hazy deep yellowish orange color. On top is a finger of a bubbly head that flattens out into a nice film that lingers on top of the beer. There’s some light lacing and alcohol legs as well.
The dry-hopping gives off a big juicy tropical fruits on the nose. There are major notes of peach, orange juice and papaya, along with some light grape and pear notes. As with Belgian-style beers, there’s a very smooth smell from the yeast and definitely a hint of esters, which impart a rich banana bread quality.
There’s much more of a bite to the taste than on the nose. The carbonation hits the front of your tongue and washes over the inside of your mouth at first. There’s kind of a dull tartness that remains on the tip of the tongue, like biting into a green apple, which I guess comes from the dry-hopping. There’s that classic tart and tangy Belgian note along with hints of grape, orange and melon on the back. Overall, there’s a dry mouthfeel and dry finish.
BPA is drier and a little more biting than other Belgian-style beers I’ve tried, yet it still has those characteristics and qualities that made me fall in love with the style in the first place. The rich body, the tartness and wealth of flavors and overall drinkability of a beer. Definitely a nice twist on the pale ale style