Beer Chronicles – Brewery Ommegang Abbey Ale

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There are several breweries who, when they put out a new product, I will give it a try simply because of the name of the company on the bottle. Brewery Ommegang is one of those breweries.

The motto at Ommegang is to the point–“everything for a reason.” That simple phrase really seems to inform all that they do.. Ommegang doesn’t go in for juvenile, goofy graphics on their bottle labels. Their beers have classy, thoughtful names that actually offer insights into how the product might taste. The graphics are timeless and subtle. And they don’t go in for trendy, gimmicky brews that are all the rage lately (“Come try our wacky new chipotle-infused pumpkin triple IPA”).

Outside of the standard American light lager beer, German beers tend to get a lot of attention. Think big beer tankards, handlebar mustaches, and Octoberfest. However, for the beer aficionado, Belgium is a true beer wonderland full of amazing history and great creativity. Belgian beer brewers consider brewing to be more of an art than a science. Rules are made to be broken and styles are only a starting point for great creativity. Ommegang is located nowhere near Belgium; they are in Cooperstown, New York. But they have perfected the art of Belgian-style ales here in America and we are all the richer for it.

Most of Belgian ale beer styles are easily accessible to the beer novice as Belgian brewers focus more on the creative use of yeasts, malts and sugars while downplaying the use of hops.

Jargon alert: “Hops” are nothing more than the cones that come from a climbing vine. There are many different types of hops, the most common (at least in America) are cascade hops. You can view several pictures of hops cones here. Hops are responsible for giving many beers their “bitter” taste, although Belgian style hops are more flavorful and far less bitter. Despite the Keystone Light ad campaign of the 1990s, a controlled bitterness in beer has become quite desirable.

Ommegang Abbey Ale is a classic Belgian dubbel style beer. It consistently receives rave reviews by beer ranking web sites and it is considered a classic in the dubbel style.

Quick tip: Dubbel is pronounced “DOO-buhl.” It is a Belgian naming convention for the word “double.” The modern dubbel style originated with Trappist monks in the Nineteenth Century.

Ommegang Abbey Ale is an amazingly complex beer that rewards a person who pays attention to each sip. I have tasted carmel, toffee, and raisins while enjoying a bottle of this fine beer. The particular beer in the picture had been sitting on the shelf of my local beer store for a while. The label is an older Abbey Ale label and the bottle had quite a bit of dust on it. This allowed the beer inside the bottle to age and to ferment even further. This bottle aged version of Abbey Ale turbo-charged everything as all of the aforementioned flavors were present, but in a highly concentrated state. Abbey Ale rates at 8.2% ABV, but this particular bottle tasted and felt much higher.

Quick tip: “ABV” stands for “alcohol by volume.” It is a standardized way of measuring how much alcohol is contained in an alcoholic beverage.

As I mentioned previously, Belgian ales are a great place for beer novices to begin branching out beyond American light lagers like Bud, Miller, and Coors. Dubbels are the perfect Belgian style for a newbie as they are fairly conservative in their taste range and almost always downplay bitterness in favor of other flavors.

Dubbels are among my favorite style of Belgian beers and I will most certainly feature others in future blog posts.

Beer prayer: Almighty God. we give thanks for subtle classiness of Ommegang Abbey Ale. We are grateful especially for the amazingly legacy of Belgian beers. From the most refined Trappist beers to a simple “everyman’s beer” like a Farmhouse Ale, you have given great gifts to us through the Belgian masters of beer making. Thank you for the bubbly head that greets the nose with a delicious, yeasty smell when a glass of Abbey Ale is brought to the lips. Thank you for the complex taste of raisins, carmel, and toffee. Thank you for the beer’s deliciously dry finish. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen!

My Untappd rating for Brewery Ommegang Abbey Ale: 5/5

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