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Everything for a Reason – Brewery Ommegang – Cooperstown, NY

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By John Tisevich

Back in the day Cooperstown New York was famous for the hallowed Baseball Hall of Fame. It still is, but before that the area was known as a big time producer of Hops in the area.  The area in which Brewery Ommegang is built at one time in the 1800’s accounted for over 80% of the Hops grown in the United States.  Ommegang was built in 1997 is located on 130+ acres of what used to be a Hop farm.

The brewery when it was built was the first brewery built on a Farm in over 100 years.  Their motto here is “Everything for a reason”.  And they take that pretty seriously here.  From the water, to the hops to the Malt and the spices.  Each is essential for the creation of their craft Belgium brews.

The farm itself happens sit on one of the best water aquifers in the region. And their hops, Slovenian, German and American, while their malts come from Belgium (of course) as well as Germany and some from America.  The real key to making Belgium beers is the spices.  Lots and lots of spices.  Such things as Star Anise, ginger, cumin, coriander and of course orange peel are all essential in making a good Belgium brew. Everything for a reason no doubt.

They have a basic stable of beers that have remained a constant over the years and of course various seasonal and special event beers as well.  Such names as Witte, Rare VOS, Hennepin, Abbey Ale and the one that did it for me the first time I tried it – Three Philosophers.  Three Philosophers is described as made for contemplation.  It’s a unique blend of 98% Belgian Quad and 2% Kriek Lambic.  Kriek Lambic is a Lambic style of Belgian beer made by fermenting Lambic with sour Morello cherries.  Kriek is derived from the Flemish word for this type of cherry the rare Belgian Morello.  The beer itself is a Belgian Quad – which I had no idea what it was.  Other than that I loved the richness of its character, and the warm feeling it gave me as it went down.

So we’re all on the same page let me define what a Belgian Quadruple Ale is.  It was started where all good things start at this Brewery, in Belgium by the Trappist brewers.  It is of course a Belgian style of Ale, with a higher level of alcohol and a much bolder flavor as compared to its Belgian cousins Tripel and Dubbel.  It’s typically a dark beer that ranges in color from deep red, to brown and sometimes garnet hues.  Its full bodies with a rich malty flavor that’s low in bitterness and is actually sweet.

This, my friends is the “Holy Grail” – in my opinion and it’s from my private collection. This is a 2011 vintage Brewery Ommegang 3 Philosophers Quad beer.  Sadly this bottle is no more as I shared it with my father during his birthday party.  The nice thing about this beer and their Ommegang Abbey Ale is both can be cellared and left to continue to age.  While the beer won’t increase in strength as far as the alcohol content it will develop more complex flavors, dried fruit, toffee and port elements to name a few.  If you go looking for this beer in the stores – the bottle will not look like the one in the picture above as they’ve changed all their labels but rather it will look like this   111.

As Brewery Ommegang has continued to grown so has its social calendar.  It now hosts major events throughout the year.  Belgium Comes to Cooperstown or BCTC as it’s known as started in 1999.  It’s become a major summer beer fest celebrating and sampling the best of Belgian and Belgian styled beers.  With now over 2,500 attendee’s and 50 breweries from around the world it features staged live music, cooking competitions, receptions and dinners.

Most recently the Brewery has gotten involved with the HBO Games of Thrones series Celebrating and creating 4 very special special brews for each of the four seasons of this very popular series.  Iron Throne, followed by Take the Black Stout, then Fire and Blood and most recently Valar Morghulis.

Over the years I’ve had many of Brewery Ommegang’ s Belgian styled beers and I’ve enjoyed each one.  They opened up my mind to a whole new way of thinking when it comes to beer.  I never realized how much I would enjoy a style of beer, and when I tell someone now I like the Belgian Style of beer people in the know nod their head with approval.  Everything for a reason, indeed.

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