AleSmith Brewing Co. of San Diego, and Brewery Ommegang, located in Cooperstown, N.Y., are more than 2,700 miles apart. However, collaborating on two very similar beers brought them close together.
AleSmith was founded in 1996 by Skip Virgilio and Ted Newcomb. Virgilio was the original brewmaster until Peter Zien, the only BJCP Grand Master Level 1 beer judge in San Diego County, purchased the brewery in July 2002.
In 2015, the company built a larger brewery and tasting room to expand production and seat more guests. In that same year, AleSmith also partnered with Mikkeller to change their original location to Mikkeller San Diego. While the building is no longer theirs, its reputation has only grown.
Brewery Ommegang was the brainchild of a group containing both entrepreneurs and breweries. In 1996, Belgian breweries Duvel Moortgat, Affligem, and Scaldis partnered with Don Feinberg and Wendy Littlefield to build a Belgian-style brewery on an old hop farm in upstate New York.
Ommegang has expanded over the years and not just in physical structures, such as its live music amphitheater. It has also partnered with various entities such as HBO, Cornell University, and Liefmans to create unique beers.
The two breweries teamed up to blend two of their most iconic beers into a dual release. AleSmith went with its well-known Speedway Stout, a 12 percent ABV imperial coffee stout, and Brewery Ommegang chose its Three Philosophers, which is a blend itself featuring a “Belgian-style quadruple ale and authentic Belgian kriek.”
The blends were released in October 2020 as East Coast and West Coast editions. The East Coast recipe features a special version of Speedway Stout that was brewed in a Belgian style, then blended with Three Philosophers.
The West Coast version is an American ale variant of Three Philosophers blended with the standard Speedway Stout recipe. The name of each beer designated which respective market in which it would be sold.
Philosophy and Velocity West Coast Edition is a Belgian dark strong ale with an 11.5 percent ABV and an unknown IBU rating.
Poured from a 16-ounce can into a snifter glass, the color is a deep black with zero transparency. Head retention is excellent with a pale tan color, and lacing is light.
The aroma was big and bold, especially for the style. Rich chocolate notes dominate—however, the influence from the blended quadruple ale is right there as well. Bready malt, caramel, and fruity esters dance with the chocolate for a complex but inviting essence.
The initial sip is very roasty while still maintaining notes of both beers. It is dark and rich with an abundance of coffee flavors from the Speedway Stout. There is a touch of chocolatey bitterness throughout and also a decent hop bite on the finish as well. The flavor profile is potent and aggressive, but no alcohol is noticeable.
As is expected, carbonation levels are lower, but that only enhances the very creamy and very smooth mouthfeel. Considering this is a blend, the body is lighter due to the Three Philosophers cutting the heaviness of its partner imperial stout. It is also drier and not very sweet.
As the beer warms, a mosaic of deeper flavors came out, including dark fruits and nuts. It finishes clean with a reasonable amount of hops as well as a fruity tang.
ALESMITH/BREWERY OMMEGANG PHILOSOPHY AND VELOCITY WEST COAST EDITION
BREWERY: ALESMITH BREWING CO.
LOCATION: SAN DIEGO, CALIF.
STYLE: BELGIAN DARK STRONG ALE
ABV: 11.5 PERCENT
IBU: NOT CONFIRMED
RELEASE DATE: OCTOBER 2020
AVAILABLE IN: 16-OUNCE CANS
BEERS POURED: ONE
This beer was a success. Combining a Belgian quad and an imperial coffee stout initially sounds unusual. However, the flavor profiles complement each other very well. Chocolate and coffee mixed with dark fruit and nuts in a perfect symphony.
The biggest aspect that stood out for me was how it was aggressive and did not sacrifice flavor. It is obvious that nothing was held back by either brewery and the resulting blend was huge in approach, yet not heavy or overly filling. Both styles were demonstrated clearly and balanced to precision.
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