I’ve read a few articles lately that are pointing out the gimmicks beer brewers are attempting to use to get people to try their beer. For some reason they pointed to this beer from Ommegang as a brewery just throwing around gimmicks. I can understand from an outsider’s point of view why they would see this as a marketing tool but, as a guy who likes to name his beers after fun characters from different media sources, I see this more as a brewery paying homage to a show they really enjoy. Reading up on their site about it, Ommegang does state that they have partnered with HBO for the project, but I still don’t see it as a ploy to get more people to buy this beer. I guarantee half of the fans of this show didn’t even realize the beer had been produced. Plus, an avid beer hunter like myself, only managed to find a single bottle. Maybe there are more out there now, but I don’t think it was mass produced enough to claim they flooded the market with it.
Ultimately the articles I have read have wanted to actually talk about the fact that Hanson somehow got their hands in the craft beer game and produced a beer called MMMhop. It’s a little hard to gauge the real thoughts on Hanson’s craft beer adventure, but I’m sure there are a lot of very pretentious beer snobs who are doubtful they can pull it off. Regardless of whether its good or bad, MMMhop has caused a few people to take a look at who else is using the entertainment industry to create beer. For some reason I haven’t seen anyone mentioning the numerous beers Dogfish Head has produced with the entertainment industry in mind. This includes a beer for Pearl Jam and Google.
Regardless of whether others like Ommegang teaming up with HBO or not, I was really interested in finding this beer and giving it a try. Game of Thrones is one of those story lines I’ve been looking into checking out. I did manage to get halfway through the first book, but I kept having to step away from the book for a little while, and I would come back and completely forget all the characters. However, I also haven’t had anyway to watch the TV series without paying for HBO. Having finally found a way to watch it online, I finally feel worthy enough of popping this beer open for a good review. I may only be two episodes in, but I’m claiming that is enough for me to get my review on.
This beer pours out a rather bright yellow color. There are a few hints of a little darker colors here and there, but it’s quite a rather bright color overall. As you can tell from the picture, there is a huge white head that develops on top of the beer. I of course never pour too carefully to see how much head develops, but this one had some rather large soapy looking bubbles to it. It had a rather fluffy texture as well. I took a little more care on the pour after that since I don’t always love waiting for the head to die down. There is a ton of visible carbonation bubbles in the beer despite the somewhat hazy nature to it. The lacing was fairly good on the sides of the glass, but you really didn’t see much of any sticky residue left over.
There are a few different noticeable components on the nose here. The big citrusy notes are quite prominent; however, the yeast is even more of the show stealer. The yeast has a nice clove scent to it that adds some good spice to the beer’s aroma. One feature I’m not always a fan of in some beers is a noticeable banana flavor or scent. That particular smell does come off this one some, but it isn’t overwhelming. The spiciness on this one is quite nice, and it seems to have an almost tanginess to it. The use of the noble hops is slightly noticeable on the nose as well as a slightly sweet malty aroma.
The first taste brought to mind a few things. First of all, it is a really solid beer. Secondly, it’s not a crazy complex beer. It’s a great example of a strong Belgian Blonde. There is a pleasant malt backbone that kick starts this beer. It has some good orange and lemony citrus to it that mixes nicely with some of those slightly light tropical pineapple flavors. The big clove yeast flavor doesn’t waste a ton of time taking over. It actually works to intensify some of the earlier citrus notes, which I found quite pleasant. It also manages to bring in a fairly well-balanced, not overpowering, banana flavor. Too much banana is certainly a bad thing in my mind. There is some very nice additional spice flavor that may be slightly intensified by a late kick up of hops. The banana becomes slightly heavy near the end for me, but I still enjoyed the overall flavor profile.
The mouthfeel kicks off with a little bit of syrupy sweetness; however, the yeast helps to turn the corner and transition from the sweet to the much drier feel. The spice helps usher in a very nice clean finish here. It has a slightly medium to lighter body, which I think makes it a great summer beer. The flavors are all really well-balanced, even if I happen to think the banana flavor may be a little bit on the high side near the end.
Ultimately I would certainly drink this beer again somewhere in the future. I am getting ready to work on my own blonde next, and I would be more than happy to get mine even close to the quality Ommegang has produced here. Whether you’re a fan of the books or the show or not, you’ll be happy you picked this one up. It certainly isn’t a mind-blowing beer, but it’s another solid one from the Ommegang camp.
Teacher Grade: B