Ommegang Abbey Ale
Brewery Ommegang – Cooperstown, NY
Nestled in Cooperstown, New York, just a short drive from the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Brewery Ommegang is THE premier brewer of Belgian-style ales in America, and their dubbel, Abbey Ale, is the 12th entry in our 25 Beers of Christmas countdown.
The dubbel is another of the Trappist- and Abbey-style beers from Belgium, originally brewed by (and still brewed by several) monasteries in the region, that were later adopted by secular brewers and led to the separate designations of official “Trappist” beers vs. Abbey beers which emulate those Trappist styles. Ommegang’s Abbey Ale is a very traditional version of the dubbel style, and stands among the best of its kind.
Abbey Ale pours a dark mahogany with ruby red highlights, with a massive, craggy foam stands that sits atop the beer for a long, long time. The nose is toffee and brown sugar, with apple and pear, dark cherry pits, and Coca-Cola cake. Raisins and caramel make an appearance as well. The flavor is similar, with the cherry and raisin notes taking more precedence, and the cola flavor along with some licorice notes making a strong impression. It’s thickly carbonated and full-bodied with a moderately dry finish, with just a touch of bitterness to balance some sweetness up front.
The carbonation of a dubbel, as well as its rich, malty, fruity flavors, lend it to some incredible food pairings. Dark and savory meals including braised short ribs, mushrooms, steak, simple hamburgers, and sausages are all friends of this beer. The carbonation will help cleanse the palate, as well as scrubbing the salt and fat from the tongue, and the fruitiness will contrast with the richness of the food, in the same way a fruit sauce or chutney might be paired with a savory pork chop.
Dubbels should be poured at anywhere from 45-55 degrees into a snifter or tulip, something with enough room to hold the beer and its massive foam stand without spilling. This is another style that will develop and evolve as it warms.
Ommegang, again, is a premier producer of Belgian-style ales, and brew several other products that I’m happy to recommend. Scythe & Sickle, a Biere de Garde, is one of my favorites (though it may not be currently in production), and their Three Philosophers, a traditional quad blended with Liefman’s kriek (a highly regarded cherry lambic), shouldn’t be missed. Hennepin, a saison, is excellent and has become their flagship beer, and they are also well-known recently for their Game of Thrones tie-in brews.
Brewery Ommegang, as of this writing, distributes to 44 states, the only exclusions of which are in the Northwest (but not the Pacific Northwest) and, oddly, Mississippi. Abbey Ale should be found anywhere Ommegang beers are sold.