May 12 2009

Brewery Ommegang Bière de Mars Review

Ommegang, located in Cooperstown, NY, is a brewery that focuses on Belgian-style ales.  They make a very nice saison (Hennepin), a Belgian dark ale (Rare Vos) and a number of other interesting ales (like the Three Philosophers which is Belgian Quad mixed with Kriek Lambic).  

When I heard about their bière de garde beer that is funkified with brettanomyces, well, I had to check it out.  A bière de garde seems like the perfect base for this sort of souring since the style lays out a nice malt base but has a good bit of sweetness that the wild yeast can slowly eat through.

My bottle was the traditional heavy Ommegang bomber that was caged and corked.  This one was from Batch #2, bottled in October of 2008 and is 6.5% ABV.  The label calls it a “Belgian amber with magical space dust woven in.”  The strain of wild yeast is brettanomyces bruxellensis.

This one pours into a goblet a deep, apple juice red.  There is a lot of yeast in this one.  Huge chunks swirl around the glass and stay in suspension for the entire time I drink it.  I’m guessing the space dust turned into a tiny asteroid field.  Being a homebrewer, the chunks don’t bother me, but I am curious about why there is that much sediment.  The head is big and rocky, and it stays around like it is in a contest with the yeast to see who will flinch first. 

The aroma is sour with a relatively light amount of funk.  There is a tiny bit of dry hop spice and lemon, and they peek in from the corners of the barnyard smells.

The taste is acid on the tongue.  The finish is dry, like a saison, with a hint of mint.  The thing that comes to mind the most about this beer is its balance.  There is firm malt and the sourness which is refreshing without becoming that repetitive and pounding one note that a sour ale can become.  

The question I have coming out of this tasting, is should this be cellared?  I suppose it depends upon what you want out of the Bière de Mars.  If you like a pronounced but not overwhelming sourness and slightly sweet balance, find a bottle of this and drink it now.  If you are a sourhead, I’d suggest cellaring this one for a year or so to see how it matures.  This is a heavy-duty corked bottle with tons of living, wild yeast that can keep this beer evolving for quite some time. 

Definitely try this one out.  It is young, but it will grow.