We're revisiting an old classic (a brewery we've sampled before) that we hadn't drank a lot of recently -- Brewery Ommegang. After all, who doesn't like a good ol' Belgian ale to get them going into spring?
Brewery Ommegang's roots are decidedly Belgian, especially after being bought by Brouwerij Duvel Moortgat. We tried again two staples we already know for a fresh take on them, the Abbey Ale and the Three Philosophers Quadrupel, as well as the Wild at Heart American wild ale. The result? More of the same, quality beers we've grown to know and love from Ommegang, with some surprising new twists.
Awe we noted before, Ommegang's Abbey Ale is as Belgian as it can get -- brewed in the same trappist fashion that monks once used. When poured, the Abbey Ale resembles a weathered penny or broken-in leather, a copper shade nearly turning into a dark burgundy. It's dark, effervescent head is unlike anything we've seen in recent beers. A bold syrup, raisin, boozy smell evades the nose upfront, but leaves behind some touches of plum and even banana bread as you settle in. Despite a bold aroma and color, the beer has a surprisingly lighter body that gives way to the taste of figgy pudding and caramel, thanks to some heavy caramel malts. With just some hints of spice -- star anise, licorice root, coriander -- add some weight to an otherwise cloying sweetness.
Three Philosophers still stands out to us as a unique beer. Blended with cherry kriek, this malty brew gives off even more of a burgundy color than the Abbey Ale. Surprisingly, we even detected a dark, nearly greenish hue to the carbonation -- not what we were expecting. Nevertheless, the cherries just don't stop in this brew, practically overwhelming any other aroma. The only other truly detectable smell was the smell of alcohol (pungent alchool, might we add -- almost acetone). The yeast really kicks in upon first sip, which gives the right balance of sweet and sour. Some liked the balance of sweet, boozy cherries and sour beer; others thought it vaguely resembled bitter children's cough syrup. Depends how you felt about cough syrup as a kid, we guess.
Ommegang set a new standard with its Wild at Heart brew by using the famed Brettomyces yeast in primary fermentation, something the brewery had never done before. That's what gives off an intense fruity smell, practically grape juice in essence. The color resembles the golden hue of an amber ale, with very fine carbonation and a giant, pillowy head, but the resemblances to any other ale stop there. The finish is quite dry, and the taste quite subtle. It took time for a slight hop bitterness, sour tartness, and maltiness to settle in on our palates; but we found that we actually appreciated the complex aromas of the Wild at Heart more than the taste. Still, for a unique sour, this is one we could get behind -- and drink often.
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