Sunday, August 5, 2012

528. Ommegang Biere d’Hougoumont

Ah, Ommegang, how we’ve missed you. We drank this while watching eleven hours of the Olympics on fast forward. How else are we supposed to fit it all in? We’ll add this to the list, which includes Tripel Perfection, Zuur, Three Philosophers, Hennepin, Bière de Mars, and Witte. Bring on more.

Described as a biere de garde aged on maple and oak wood staves, Biere d’Hougoumont pours a brilliantly clear amber and has a white head that is small, tight, and fine with excellent staying power. The nose opens with a distinct cellar must and cork character (yes, I’m going with that; that phrase came to my head while smelling the beer, and it seemed appropriate, so I’m sticking with it) followed by candy malt; as the beer opens up, the candy sweetness comes to the forefront and the must disappears. There are also hints of caramel and perfume from the yeast esters. Flavors start with a dry biscuit and cracker malt, giving way to caramel and pleasant spicy yeast phenols accompanied with just a touch of hop bitterness. The finish is sweet, creamy, and dry at first; a touch of alcohol flavor and warmth emerge as the beer rounds in body. Bright carbonation blends well with the dry, slightly creamy but chewy mouthfeel; as noted above, there is some alcohol, but nothing harsh or sharp. This is a well-balanced beer as a whole, although it does become less even as it warms—the youth of the beer starts to come out with some time spent in the glass. Surprisingly, there is not much discernible in regards to the wood presence in the beer. As it stands, it is currently a good beer for not having any real distinct character—there are no flaws, but nothing really stands out. And I would agree with the language on the bottle indicating this beer is a good candidate for aging, as a couple of years should give this beer depth and complexity, making it splendid.

From the bottle: “Hougoumont is brewed with French ale yeast, eight malts, French Strisselspalt hops, and aged on wood. A traditional biere de garde style, this malty French-styled farmhouse ale is brewed to be aged. The name honors the Hougoumont farmstead at the pivotal center of the Waterloo Battlefield. Napoleon repeatedly failed to take the farmstead, then lost the battle, and ‘met his Waterloo.’”

ABV: 7.3%

And sorry, I forgot to take a picture. Really, you’re better off that way.


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