In today’s craft beer landscape new breweries are popping up while others are closing at a record pace. There are several breweries in my area that have folded in the last few months alone. With this in mind when I hear of a brewery releasing a 20th anniversary beer it is definitely worth celebrating. I am excited to crack open this week’s beer which is the 20th anniversary release from Ommegang out of Cooperstown N.Y. This celebratory release is a Belgian style dark ale that was aged in aged in bourbon barrels.
The beer is brewed with Munich, Special B, CaraVienne and Blacprinz malts along with Belgian Candi Sugar and hop additions of Spalter select and Styrian Goldings. Once fermentation was complete the beer was laid to rest in barrels Buffalo Trace for fiive months. This bottle has been cellared for two years since its release back in late 2017. Belgian quadrupels or dark ales tend to age pretty well so I am excited to crack this one open.
The beer pours a rich dark brown with mahogany edges. A dense finger of tiny khaki colored bubbles form which fade to a halo in a about a minute. The nose is subdued but Belgian yeast esters are the first thing that I pick out. Prunes, oatmeal raisin cookie, caramel, booze and oak combine for a pleasant aroma. There is not a lot of bourbon character but it appears when I hunt for it.
My first sip of the beer instantly reminds me how much I love big Belgian quads and dark ales. There are so many subtle flavors that all combine to make a deliciously complex beer. The dark fruit character arrives right off the bat with a sweet prune and raisin character along with a caramel/toffee note that washes over the palette. The booze arrives mid sip, drying it out a bit then vanilla, oak and bourbon linger into the finish. A rich red wine character and spicy phenols add additional layers to this delicious beer.
This beer is fantastic and I wish I had a second on in the fridge to share with friends. I usually find it a bit of a struggle to drink a beer in the 11 percent ABV range solo but as I approach the bottom of this bottle, I find myself wanting even more. If you have one of these in the back of the fridge you can open now and enjoy or see where it goes in another year or so. There are no negative signs of oxidation so this seems like it could hold up for a bit longer but I don’t really see the need of risking it as it is drinking great right now.