If you told me a few years ago that I would be getting into pale ales and IPA’s I would tell you that you’re crazy. To be honest, if you told me that a few weeks ago, my response would likely have been the same. I never understood the appeal that these beers had. I’m just not too fond of that dry palate, sour/bitter mouth feeling I get at the end of one of those types of beers. For some reason though, I’ve had the pleasure of tasting a few exceptions to the rule. And as it turns out, they both happen to be in the Belgian style. Coincidence? I think not.
For you sports fans, Cooperstown should be a familiar name. After all it is the home of Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame. But little do most people know, it is also home to Brewery Ommegang, brewers of the beer you see below – Ommegang BPA (Belgian Pale Ale). This brewery specializes in Belgian-style beers of many different shapes and sizes. Recently, I had the opportunity to enjoy their BPA. What happened afterwards is something that should definitely be noted.
Looking at this one reminded me somewhat of a Blue Moon or Paulaner Hefeweizen (one of my all-time favorites) in that it poured a hazy golden amber color and produced a fluffy 3-finger cream head on top. Getting a whiff of that head was like getting shocked with a banana/citrus/orange stun gun with a touch of Columbus, Celeia and Cascade hops in the holster. Maybe some grapefruit could be found in it too. This looked and smelled quite inviting, so I didn’t want to waste another moment simply sticking my nose in it. Without any reservation, I decided to take a pull.
The taste I got was pretty interesting. There was a light malty base and yeast ester presence there, giving it a nice grainy taste and texture, which balanced quite nicely with the hops that came in for relief in the later innings. The hops didn’t overpower the rest of the mix, as is often the case with other pale ales I’ve experienced. The alcohol level (6.2%) did drive a bit of the taste, but again it didn’t overpower or dominate the mix of attributes floating therein. There was definite lemon and citrus presence, as well as some mild spiciness (coriander maybe?) which gave the grains a nice kick to the rear, but in the end all parties decided to play nice and get along well with each other. Nice carbonation and a medium-bodied mouthfeel made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. If this were baseball, the grains would be the starting pitchers, the hops are good for middle relief, and the closers would be the sweet fruitiness.
As I’ve often said before, I’m an all-of-the-above kind of beer drinker, but for some reason, IPA’s and pale ales are really hit-or-miss with me. This treasure from Brewery Ommegang was a home run. I’m definitely inclined to believe that a trip to Cooperstown will include not only a stop at the Hall of Fame, but some time well spent in Brewery Ommegang. Until I have the money and time afforded for such a trip up north, I’ll just have to settle on picking up a bottle or two of this goodness. I’m pretty sure the others in the Ommegang line are fantastic as well – Three Philosophers, Rare VOS, Adoration Ale (just to name a few) – because this one was worthy of its Hall of Fame hometown.