Ommegang – The Best Belgian Beer Brewed in the US! By: Kyle Bloser
Ommegang was founded in 1997 by Don Feinberg and Wendy Littlefield. The two were in the industry as beer importers, bringing Belgian beers into the United States through their company. Together they decided to build a brewery and stick to what they knew and utilize their expertise and brew Belgian style ales. They took a vowel to do everything correctly and in the traditional manner. This commitment allowed them to produce a high quality Belgian craft beer that leaves you wanting more. The brewery itself is designed to look like an old farm in the traditional Belgian style, just like their beers. One unique, almost lost art, that the brewers use at Ommegang is open air fermentation which allows the yeast to be harvested off of the top of the “new” beer. They reuse this yeast for bottle conditioning which allows the beer to have a second fermentation in the bottle. This process allows the beer to be much like a wine and get better with age. They do an initial bottle conditioning at the brewery before the beer is even shipped to the distributors for sale. Doing so ensures that their high quality product will be properly aged to allow the beer to be the best it can be. They have six different beers that are brewed year round and a new Summer and Fall seasonal line. Ommegang also produces special editions one offs throughout the year. The brewery is the premiere Belgian brewery in the United States because they are the only ones who use all of the traditional techniques from their European counterparts. The brewery itself is a really cool place located in Cooperstown, New York. Ommegang is located on a hop farm, which adds to the experience of being at a brewery because you are surrounded, by one of the main ingredients in beer. Cooperstown was once the hop growing capitol of North America. The passion of the original owners (the Brewery is now by Duvel Moortgat of Belgium) with the production of their beer is to produce an extremely high quality product that makes Ommegang’s craft beers the best Belgian style craft beers in America.
Recently the brewery partnered with HBO to produce a special edition beer series for one of their special series, The Game of Thrones. The Game of Thrones series beer was released before the beginning of season three. The beer itself is called Iron Throne and is a Belgium Blonde Ale. The Brewmaster Phil Leinhart said “the opportunity to collaborate on a beer based on the cultural phenomenon of Game of Thrones and exploring ways to make the beer truly reflect aspects from the show. It made us approach development in a completely new way and I think the first edition Iron Throne reveals that. With a Lannister currently on the throne, it made sense to do a delicate, but piercing Golden Blonde Ale with Noble hops. Iron Throne is certainly fair in color and soft in appearance, yet it still possesses a complexity and a surprising bite. ” The beer comes in corked bottles and is a limited edition treat that has been racing off the shelves due to the shows cult following. Look for a second edition and completely new style of the beer this fall.
Here is a description of Brewery Ommegang’s six everyday beers and one of their more sought after one off’s called Gnomegang. Cheers!
Rare Vos, is an amber ale. The beers name comes from a famous café in Belgium that is known for its food and beer. Ommegang describes this beer as a tribute to the traditional Belgian style Café amber ale, which allows it to be unique and rather refreshing. The beer itself is very balance and had a good spice flavor, allowing it to be very drinkable. The spiciness comes from grains of paradise and orange peels. When poured it has a big head that allows the beer to release its spicy smell. It also has a little bitterness that comes along with the hops that used in the beer. It is one of the most balanced beers we’ve ever tried in terms of flavor characteristics because it is based on a complex yet drinkable style of beer. It pairs very well with food and goes well many different dishes. You can enjoy the beer with any cheese or something sweet and spicy or with a dessert like bread pudding. It also pairs very well with pork belly for its fattiness and salty preparation as well as lobster due to their sweetness. It can also be added to chili’s and jambalaya to add a unexpected but pleasant taste.
Hennepin is definitely one of my favorite beers, it’s a farmhouse saison. This is a golden ale that is brewed with grains of paradise, orange peel, coriander, ginger, and other spices. Hennepin is named after the European explorer Lord Hennepin, who was the first European to find Niagara Falls. Just like him, the beer is adventurous and lets you discover new things about it the more you drink. It’s a bottle-conditioned ale, a little different but all of them are very good, and extremely drinkable. This was the first saison brewed in the United States and has been extremely popular ever since its release. Hennepin is on the strong side in terms of saison’s with an ABV of 7.7% which is much higher than most other saison beers. The farmhouse ale is good choice all year long because it is strong enough to keep you warm in the winter months but refreshing enough to quench your thirst in the summer heat. The beer pairs well with Asian food due to its spice and hint of ginger flavor. It also pairs really well with fish due to the same factors allowing it to expand and build on the flavor of the dishes.
The Witte is the most traditional Belgian style beer of the brewery. Witte in Belgian means wheat, which is exactly what it is, a wheat beer. The beer is brewed uniquely less sweet than most other wheat beers allowing for a tangy wheat finish to shine though. This is the most refreshing of the beers and lends itself perfectly to being enjoyed after a long day in the sun or while out in the sun. It’s an excellent summer beer even though it’s not necessarily meant to be. The wheat allows it to have a lemony citrus flavor, which adds to its refreshing characteristics that makes it such a good beer. This combination allows the beer to be paired well with almost anything. It lends itself to lighter things such as salads and appetizers but also due to its sweetness and tanginess, it pairs well with barbecued food as well as with mussels and seafood. The citrus characteristic pairs with almost any food perfectly because it enhances the flavor of any of the dish.
Gnomegang is a limited edition one that is the current rotating limited edition. Gnomegang is a Belgian strong pale ale with a subtle spiciness that gives it the distinct Belgian characteristics that make Belgian style ales so unique. It starts off on the fruity side in terms of flavor and then you catch the yeast, which creates a more complex flavor, enhancing the flavor. The beer is strong with an ABV of 9.5%, which is hidden well in the beer. It doesn’t overpower you like many stronger beers despite the high ABV. It pairs with similar foods like the Witte and the Hennepin, so seafood, spicy food and pork.
The BPA is a unique take on a Belgian Pale Ale, which is dry hopped to add a crisp finish. The beer pairs well with fatty foods due to the bitterness that comes from the variety of hops that are used in the brewing process. The Belgian yeast allows the beer to have a sweeter flavor than the traditional pale ale but is a pleasant addition due to the hoppiness of the beer.
The Abbey Ale was the first beer that the brewery produced. This beer was designed after a Belgian trappist monk dubbel. The abbey ale is a dark beer that is malty and has a strong head. The beer is also great to age in a cellar, which allows the beer to get better with time like a wine due to the yeast that is put in the bottle for the bottle conditioning. This beer is similar to a wine and pairs well with most foods particularly pastas and red sauces due to the beers fruitiness.
Three Philosophers is a very unique beer because it is a Belgian quadrupel that is brewed as a darker ale in the traditional Belgian style technique but then another style of beer is added. The beer that is added is traditional cherry ale called Liefmans Kriek that is imported by Ommegang to the United States. The mixture is 98% ale and 2% Kreik, which gives it a refreshing cherry flavor that draws it towards the dessert pairings. Three Philosophers also pairs well with cheese and stews and can also be used as a great marinade that will add a really great flavor to your meat.
These are just a few of the many high quality beers that Brewery Ommegang is known for. The majority of their beers come in the 12 ounce traditional bottles as well as the corked big bottles. No matter what you pair them with or what you drink, them out of you’re going to enjoy them. You will definitely recognize the love and enthusiasm that is put into Ommegang beers. Their brewery’s slogan is everything happens for a reason, and if you drink some of their beer something will happen for a reason, you will be happily refreshed and want more. But there’s no surprise there, because it did happen for a reason, high quality beer.
Ommegang is located in Cooperstown, NY. To learn more about this brewery you can visit them online at www.ommegang.com – Ommegang is proudly distributed by Frank B. Fuhrer Wholesale.