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Ommegang… the rebuttal

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An unedited email from a fellow brewer and supplier of pot (brewpot) by the name of Peter:

Fellas, sorry I couldn?t make it last night. Dad was in town for a funeral, and we ended up spending the evening with him. Hope the double batch went well!

Now, as to the real business at hand ? Jonathan, I wanted to address your posting on Ommegang. Although Ommegang is a good beer, I have something else in store for you, my friend. Contrary to the label?s impression, Ommegang is not a Belgian-made beer, but a Belgian-style beer that?s brewed in Cooperstown, NY. This is a very important distinction ? in truth, Ommegang (as you shall see on a taste test in the near future) is a far cry from the ales of the true Belgian Trappist breweries, of which there are 6 in the world, and which, in my opinion, make the finest beers known to man.

Here?s a quick rundown of the Trappist style.

Now, I can realize your delight in Ommegang, having never tried a Rochefort 8, for example, or a Chimay Red. But once you try the real deal, I?m pretty sure you?ll have a hard time with Ommegang brews, with the important exception of the Three Philosophers ale, which is the best they make. The advantage to Ommegang is the price ? they usually cost only 50-75% of a Belgian import. However, a much better compromise than Ommegang, if you want to get the Belgian taste, is to go with a beer made by Unibroue in Canada ? they don?t have the off flavors of the Ommegang, I think because their water is more similar?and because they speak French.

Belgian ales have a lot of variety, but there are similarities, too. For example, most breweries have a Dubbel, a Triple, and sometimes a Quadrupel ? other styles include Saison (a very light, crisp beer), a Dark Ale (some bitterness, but fruitier than its English/Scottish counterpart), etc. It?s good to stack up one brewery?s Dubbel against another brewery?s Dubbel ? the complexity is astounding. You can taste 10-15 different flavors in a good Belgian beer; it?s almost the complexity of wine.

2 thoughts on “Ommegang… the rebuttal

  1. Tell Peter there are SEVEN official Trappist breweries in the world… six in Belgium, one in the Netherlands…

  2. While I’m not a huge fan of their entire lineup, the dubbel, trippel & “strong” from Allegash are fantastic. Much closer to what the folks in Belgium are putting out. First off, they are drier, a very important characteristic for abbey style beers. Furthermore, they get more of their character from the yeast instead of the specialty grains. Don’t get me wrong- I like a lot of the beers Ommegang makes, I just don’t feel they are close to what anybody is making in Belgium.

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