BREWERY OMMEGANG has a very special place in our hearts. We have been a fan of the beer portfolio from Vanberg & DeWulf since the 80’s. When we had heard that they were launching a new brewery in the United States that was going to focus on Belgian-style ales in the late 90’s, we immediately contacted them to find out more. Back then, we had a website known as THE BEERMASTER’S CAFE, and we were fortunate to develop a business relationship with their public relations department. We got our hands on a bottle of the first inception of OMMEGANG ABBEY ALE before it was widely released to the California market. We submitted our tasting review on it at their website. Vanberg and DeWulf like what we wrote so much, they wound up using our review in their newsletter that was sent to all their subscribers back then.
We have enjoyed many of the brewery’s beers since Ommegang started, and have loved them all. Being fans of Quadrupel style beers, THREE PHILOSOPERS has always been one of our favorites. We’ve enjoyed it since it was first released, and it continues to improve. Our review on it was way overdue (like many other beers, for that matter!) And when we found it on the shelves again in our local market for a great price, we had to sit down and enjoy it in the mindset similar to visiting a friend you have not seen for a long time… we offer our BrewView below.
ABOUT BREWERY OMMEGANG
Ommegang began brewing Belgian-style ales in 1997. Founded by Don Feinberg and Wendy Littlefield, owners of Vanberg & DeWulf beer import company, and three family owned Belgian breweries including Duvel Moortgat. Ommegang started up in a purpose-built building based on a traditional Belgian farmhouse, set on a former 136-acre (0.55 km2) hop farm in the Susqehanna River Valley, four miles (6 km) south of Cooperstown, New York in the Town of Milford.
Since its opening, Ommegang has grown rapidly — in early 2005, its owner said they have been unable to meet demand for their ales and as a result would add 40 percent to their production capacity over the next year.
By 2003, the Belgian breweries had all been absorbed into large corporations. Feinberg and Littlefield sold their share of Ommegang in 2003 to Belgian brewer Brouwerij Duvel Moortgat, brewers of the world-renowned Duvel Golden Ale. Duvel Moortgat brewed limited amounts of beer for Brewery Ommegang in 2006 to help meet demand, but has not brewed any since then.
Brewery Ommegang currently distributes its beers in 43 states and Washington, D.C., including Alaska and Hawaii but excluding Montana, Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, West Virginia, and Mississippi. Ommegang has also begun exporting to Canada and the US Virgin Islands.
Each summer, the brewery hosts a large beer-tasting event, known as Belgium Comes to Cooperstown. The event, which occurs on a Saturday in July or August, includes four hours of unlimited beer sampling of over 200 Belgian and Belgian-style beers, followed by food, live music, and a bonfire.
On 7 October 2007, Brewery Ommegang hosted the inaugural “CX @ Ommegang,” a cyclocross race, organized by Team SCARR, a cycling team with Brewery Ommegang as their title sponsor. Cyclocross is wildly popular in Belgium and a cyclocross race on the grounds of a Belgian-style brewery was a natural fit. Well over 150 racers from all over New York State registered for the event. The course included a hairpin turn inside the main event tent. (Source: Wikipedia)
BEER STYLE AND COMMERCIAL DESCRIPTION FROM BREWERY OMMEGANG
Style category: Belgian-Style / Trappist Quadrupel
Taste: Three Philosophers is a unique blend of a Belgian-style dark ale and Liefmans Kriek, an authentic cherry ale from Belgium. Cherry chestnut in color, it’s opaque but not cloudy with full carbonation topped by a smooth, tan head. Flavors and aromas of roasted malt, molasses and brown sugar, dark fruits, brandied raisins and chocolate, Three Philosophers has notable sweetness with low hop bitterness. The mid-palate shows a soft malt center which gives way to a dry, warm, wine-like finish.
AWARDS FOR THREE PHILOSOPHERS QUADRUPEL
2006 World Beer Cup Bronze Medal Belgian-Style Dark Strong Ale
2011 European Beer Star: Silver Medal, Belgian-style Strong Ale
OUR BREWVIEW OF BREWERY OMMEGANG- THREE PHILOSOPHERS QUADRUPEL
APPEARANCE / THE POUR:
9.7 % ABV. Poured into a open-mouthed Trappist goblet, and served at 55°F. Pours a deep reddish chestnut color. The tan colored head pours an easy 2-finger height, and is tightly bubbled and dense- almost a whipped “egg-white” density. As the head collapses, the Brussels lacing it leaves behind is even. (We ensured this was a “Beer Clean” glass). The meniscus is medium to slow rising. There was a slight haze to the beer, due to the bottle conditioning.
AROMA / BOUQUET:
If you think about the marriage between cherries and chocolate, this beer would fit that description. We got cocoa nibs in the initial bouquet blast along with the gentle aroma of Liefman’s Kriek. There are also notes of toffee, and roasted malts.
The initial taste is semi-sweet chocolate, with cherry cordial flavors right behind. There are also flavors of raisins, prunes, and dates. Quads have a characteristic fresh yeastiness to them, and Ommegang’s house yeast does not disappoint. The roasted malt character does come in, but right after the chocolate-fruit flavors, and then the Spalt and Styrian Golding hop flavors.
MOUTHFEEL / PALATE:
Not being an overly carbonated beer, it hits the front of the tongue with its gentle effervescence, and then it fills the top and the back of the mouth with its richness. There is a bitter chocolate, cocoa, burnt toffee finish. It is warming, and satisfying.
FOOD PAIRING SUGGESTIONS:
Brewery Ommegang mentions, when simply pairing this it is important to keep in mind that you need a dish that is going to stand up to the big alcohol, rich malt, and subtle cherry. Think hearty; stews, fatty meats, gooey, stinky cheese, and you cannot go wrong. Try this beer as a marinade or in a sauce. In a marinade, the alcohol naturally breaks down the proteins in the meat, tenderizing it, while the flavor of the beer is absorbed. For a sauce, simply reduce over low flame with some additional sour cherries, wait till half is reduced, season with salt, pepper and sugar plus a touch of cream and you are ready to go.
Being one of our favorites, it is in our top 100 beer list for sure. When we first tried it many years ago, we thought it was fantastic. Over the years, the subtle flavor nuances offered improvement. When it was first released, Three Philosophers was a beer ahead of its time. This was the first beer (that we knew of) that actually blended Kriek in the base Quadrupel style beer. It is refined enough to have with the finest meals, or simply as an after dinner drink. We found it at Trader Joe’s here in Redding, California for only $7.99 for a 750ML bottle- what a great bargain! All of Brewery Ommegang’s beers are value priced, for their high quality. World class, THREE PHILOSOPHERS is a must have… seek it out for sure!