So you love beer–the refreshing first sip that gives way to a mix of subtle and strong flavors. It’s a powerful thing. But how much do you really know about what goes into each pint? We’re curious about the brewing techniques and ingredients that result in fantastic beers, and we hope to peak your curiosity, as well. With that in mind, we’ll be talking with the breweries supplying Brickyard’s beers, and sharing their thoughts with you here on the blog.
To kick things off, we spoke with Patrick Brauer, Marketing Brand Manager at Ommegang Brewery in beautiful Cooperstown, NY. He discussed Ommegang brewery’s impressive entertainment lineup and Belgian brewing techniques, and touched on the flavor profiles of Ommegang Witte (it’s on Brickyard’s Local Draft menu) and Hennepin. Ommegang releases a special beer from its Innovation Series four to six times per year, and we’ll have the inside scoop here on the blog soon, so check back!
As always, we welcome your feedback. Is there a brewery on our beer list you’re dying to learn about? A local purveyor who you think deserves our attention? Leave a comment below, or talk to us on Twitter @brickyardnyc.
Belgian Style Brewing
Other than Ommegang, there is no brewery in the U.S. brewing all of their beers in the Belgian style. “A brewery might have one Belgian-style beer,” Patrick explained, but Ommegang is all Belgian, all the time. Ommegang uses only Belgian yeast and malts typical of Belgian beers. Ommegang beers are “bottle-conditioned,” which means they ferment again in the bottle after the initial fermentation process.
An “Ommegang” was a traditional festival in Belgium when “people from farms and breweries would come to Brussels to share their wares,” Patrick says. Naming the brewery after the celebration is “kind of where we pay homage to our tradition and history,” he adds. A Cooperstown couple, who imported Belgian wares and some beers, started Ommegang. They “really liked the style,” Patrick explains, and got another Belgian brewer, Duvel, to partner with them to start up Ommegang. Eventually, Duvel bought the company.
The Setting for Ommegang Brewery
Set on a bucolic hop farm measuring close to 200 acres, Ommegang is an “old, farmhouse-style brewery,” similar to what’s found in Belgium. The brewery has a unique vision for entertainment. “It’s an idea that we’ve had for a while, starting with using the space that we have and the culture we have here at Ommegang,” Patrick says of the brewery’s concerts and family events. A Lyle Lovett performance this summer was a huge step. “It launched us into trying to get more big acts. We’re actively planning a concert lineup for next spring and summer,” he notes.
A Belgian white or wheat beer, Witte is 5.1 percent alcohol by volume. “This is a beer with easy drinkability, and introduces people to the Belgian style” Patrick says. It’s spiced with coriander and sweet orange peel, but is less sweet and has a subtler wheat taste than a Hefeweizen, like a Blue Moon or Hoegaarden. Ommegang Witte won the silver medal at the 2010 World Beer Cup, which is held every other year in different locations. Witte pairs well with lighter fare, like salads, chicken and brunch. “It’s a great summertime beer–the lightness of it lends itself to hot days,” according to Patrick.
The making of this farmhouse saison, which means “seasonal” in French, is based on a traditional French-style brewing process: the farm hands would gather the extra wheat and barley in the fall, use it to brew saison beer in the winter, and drink it in the springtime. Ommegang spices their Hennepin more than a traditional saison, using milled coriander, sweet orange peel, ginger and grains of paradise (a type of seed). Hennepin is 7.7 percent alcohol by volume. “It’s got a full body–citrus notes with spices–and an exotic spicy taste with a dry, hoppy finish,” Patrick says. It’s best served with spicy foods, including Asian dishes, and also pairs well with grilled chicken or burgers, breads and cheeses. Hennepin brings out the spices in food, and food in turn brings out Hennepin’s spices.
Events and Tours at Ommegang Brewery
Ommegang Brewery is hosting a Waffles and Puppets Festival on October 9, and participating in Beer Advocate’s Belgian Beer Fest in Boston, Oct. 15-16. Visit the Ommegang online newsletter for additional events, including Ommegang’s role in New York Craft Beer Week happening Sept. 24-30. Brewery tours are offered daily and year-round, from noon-5 p.m. in fall and winter, and 11a.m.-6 p.m. in spring and summer. Visitors are welcome to enjoy lunch at one of 15 picnic tables on the property, and in about three months, the brewery’s new store and restaurant, serving traditional Belgian fare, are expected to open.