For his Wild Card tasting, Jan. 23, panelist Mike Festi chose a theme of “Home of the Hall” beers — a selection of offerings from Brewery Ommegang of Cooperstown, N.Y.
When your brewery is located in the home of the Baseball Hall of Fame, you’d may as well swing for the fences. But, as our panelists learned, when you swing for home runs, sometimes you also strike out.
Panelists: Jon Graney, Mike Festi, Rick Czapla, Bob Bowden, Amy Graney
Ommegang Rare Vos . . . 71 points
All five of the tasted Ommegang beers featured corks instead of bottle caps. And popping the cork on this bottle-conditioned, Belgian-style amber ale revealed big carbonation. This impressed some of the panel, but others found it too “fizzy.” The citrus notes of grapefruit were pleasing, but the aftertaste was a bit acidic. However, it was a fun and interesting beer, albeit a one-and-done type of brew…not an all-night drinker.
(Appearance 7.5, Smell 6.5, Taste 22, Aftertaste, 12.75, Drinkability 21.75)
Ommegang Tripel Perfection . . . 69 points
Our panelists found this cloudy Belgian ale to be a nearly identical experience to the Rare Vos, with the same champagne-like carbonation. Overtones of licorice were pronounced, with some of the panel finding it made the taste too sharp. But the ale left a smooth, pleasant aftertaste and a desire to drink more.
(Appearance 5.75, Smell 6.5, Taste 21, Aftertaste, 14.25, Drinkability 21.75)
Ommegang Three Philosophers . . . 60 points
What’s the difference between a “quadrupel” and a “tripel?” Not much. Double, triple and quadruple are loosely-used terms to generally describe the alcohol strength of the ale. Quadruple is mostly reserved for ales with 10% or higher ABV, though this one clocked in at 9.7%. So don’t bother worrying if an ale is a triple or a quadruple; go by taste. And this one was interesting, with a strong taste of caramel and butterscotch, with light notes of cherry. Some of the panelists, including Amy who joined the panel for two of the beers, found the maltiness too sweet. The consensus was that while it was decent, you could only enjoy one glass before tiring of it.
(Appearance 7.4, Smell 7, Taste 18, Aftertaste, 12.4, Drinkability 15.8)
Ommegang Upside Brown . . . 53 points
This limited edition — and pricey — brown ale was easily the most divisive among the panel, but one thing is clear. Ommegang boldy swung for the fences on this “farmhouse” ale. It’s thick. It’s smoky. It has sediment in it that neither floats nor sinks. It even has pineapple in it. You’re either going to love this beer or despise it. Amy again joined the panel for this beer, and that proved to be a saving grace, because two panelists liked it, and three tanked it. The consensus was that it’s musty, cheesy, sour, moldy, funky and stale. (Even Ommegang admits it has a “farmyard funk” to it.) But while most the panel disliked it intensely, the other two panelist found the oaky, smoky, musky taste a rich, bold and well-balanced experience. Unlike the other offerings, this one’s gold label is printed right on the bottle. The verdict? It’s a unique brew you may love, but if you buy one and hate it…don’t say we didn’t warn you.
(Appearance 8, Smell 5.8, Taste 14.2, Aftertaste, 11.2, Drinkability 14.2)
Ommegang Hennepin . . . 43 points
In general, the panelists found Ommegang’s offerings to be generally well-crafted and of good quality. The Hennepin saison was the exception. Our panel had a hard time finding good things to say about this pale ale. Saison, French for “season,” is a general term for refreshing pale ales — sometimes with the addition of spices — and a high yeast character. This one fit the bill, but it had a drab pale yellow color, and a faint aroma of ginger and citrus. It’s brewed with coriander, ginger and orange peel, but upon tasting, the panelists found it displeasing, leading one panelist to liken it to smoked meat. Ginger overtones were notable, but overwhelmed with yeast, leaving a metallic aftertaste, flat and unsatisfying. While the panel unanimously panned it, one panelist went so far as to sum up, “Not great…let’s move on.”
(Appearance 5.25, Smell 5.25, Taste 11.5, Aftertaste, 11, Drinkability 10.25)
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