"And I've got my act together, gonna walk all over you…"

by Katie Pizzuto on August 12, 2009

in beer

ommegang“I’m sorry, we’re not doing tours today,” is not something I ever enjoy hearing when I go out of my way to visit a brewery that does daily tours, but when the words are uttered while a hand is simultaneously being extended toward me with a generous sample of wheat ale, well, I tend to go soft. Instead of raising Cain, I pout, tell them what a long distance I’ve traveled, and mention how much I was looking forward to blogging about the place. After a couple more samples, some of my witty repartee, and a friendly customer-education assist in what was a very busy tasting room, I was granted the freedom to roam the brewery and give myself a tour with the promise that I wouldn’t touch any buttons or switches—like I’d mess with a good thing, anyway.

Ommegang is not usually the name you hear tripping off beer-ordering tongues, but it should be, particularly at a point in gastronomic history when people are busy returning to the recycled concept known as being a “locavore.” Some will tell you that they eat locally grown food because the less food travels via trains, planes and trucks, the less damage it does to the environment. Others will tell you that they’d rather support local purveyors that struggle against the agribusiness giants. Still others will tell you that eating locally is a way to make sure they eat seasonally. Either way, if we are making attempts to eat locally, then drinking locally should be just as important, and local northeastern breweries like Ommegang need to have homes on our shopping lists.

bottlesThe brewery makes amazing Belgian-style ales in a drinking town with a baseball problem… Cooperstown, NY. All of Ommegang’s beers are bottle-fermented and also tend to be slightly higher in alcohol than your average brew, coming in at anywhere between 7 and 8.5%. The lightest style they brew is a summer, white wheat ale called Witte, which has the telltale hints of orange peel and coriander. Then there’s their golden ale, Hennepin. It’s spicy and citrusy, and begs to accompany a good meal. It is easily one of the most intriguing microbrews out there. If you like your brews a little feistier, they’ve got Rare Vos which is an amber ale. It’s got a super-creamy head and full, fruity/caramel flavor that’s a little hoppier than the other two but nothing like a pale ale. After that there’s Ommegang Abbey, which was actually their first brew. It’s a beautiful, deep red pour that’s got layers of fruit and spice, and finishes with the sweeter touches of caramel and toffee. I’d serve this alongside a hearty stew any day. Lastly, there’s the mind-blowing quadrupel ale called Three Philosophers. This cellar-worthy brew is a blend of dark, luscious malty ale and cherry-infused lambic that demands your full attention. After dinner, in front of a fire, with a good cigar…whatever…but keep your eyes on the prize because both its subtlety and its power will render you speechless.

bottles2Their seasonal brews include Ommegeddon, a wild blonde ale, Chocolate Indulgence, a stout brewed with actual Belgian chocolate, and my absolute, hands-down favorite of the bunch, Biere de Mars, which is an amber ale dosed with a bit of Brett during the secondary fermentation which gives it a sweet, earthy funk that I love not only in my wines but also in my beers.

Ommegang is not “great for a local microbrewery,” it’s great, period. The fact that they happen to be a hop, skip and jump away just makes for bragging rights. If we find ourselves talking about ales crafted with attention and passion, then that discussion must include the liquid gold that pours forth from Ommegang. One little blogger can only hope that breweries like this will eventually usurp the bar-back thrones where beer industry behemoths keep themselves perched, pumping out glass after glass of mediocrity.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 The Wine Commonsewer August 12, 2009

Happy I put you on a feed so I can keep track of you. 🙂

Two things happened on Generation X’s watch.

1. We got good coffee (I’ve got a whole schtick about that but I’m too lazy to type it right at the moment)

2. We got good beer

I’m grateful as heck for that.

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2 Katie Pizzuto August 13, 2009

Nice to see the cocktail back in the forefront too, Mike, but yeah, beer and coffee have improved tenfold.

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3 Lenn Thompson August 13, 2009

Ommegang has been on my radar for many years now — Hennepin is my go-to beer for just about any occasion (and food).

Look at you dropping the “looking forward to blogging about it”

Such a hoochie.

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4 Katie Pizzuto August 13, 2009

Darned tootin’….I don’t have eyelashes to bat, so one does what one can to get a behind-the-scenes pass 🙂

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5 castello September 1, 2009

Where have your eyelashes gone? I’ll look at local beer a little different now. Anchor Steam anyone?

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6 Katie Pizzuto September 1, 2009

The eyelashes are there, but scarcely visible…to bat them would be pointless so I’ve learned other ways to get what I want, LOL!

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