Blue Collar Brew Review – Ommegang Game of Thrones Fire and Blood Red Ale

Game of Thrones - Season 4Ommegang has released a limited version of beer dedicated to the HBO series Game of Thrones. Now into its 4th season, the time of the initial episode of the show coincided with the release of Ommegang’s Game of Thrones Fire and Blood Red Ale at the beginning of April.

F&B 750sOmmegang is well known for its delicious Belgian styles of beer, their Abbey dubbel and Three Philosophers quad being two of my favorites. How could I miss with a new one from the Big O. This the third edition of the Game of Thrones series of beers. I’m sure that someone from HBO approached someone at Ommegang (or the other way around) to brew beers that would be publicly beneficial to both sides. There had to have been an agreement otherwise the lawsuits would have erupted by now. (HBOmmegang, heh.)

This series comes with three different bottle labels:

Named after the motto of House Targaryen, Fire & Blood was inspired by Daenerys Targaryen and her three dragons; Drogon, Rhaegal and Viserion. To celebrate the rebirth of dragons, three different labels have been created, each depicting one of Daenery’s feared dragons.

Yes. That and Dark Lord Day is in exactly 2 weeks.

On the label, down at the bottom was the phrase “Ale brewed with Ancho Chilies.” I don’t see how that blurb would sell more beer, and I couldn’t see Ommegang brewing up a chili beer. At least that statement was a bit more informative than Unibroue’s “Ale on Lees.” But little did I know when I wrote that sentence.

Our house does not subscribe to HBO but I can see all the hubbub about GoT on the Internet. I understand the story is convoluted with many and difficult to follow plot twists intertwined with treachery and violence. The scenery is stunning. Nonetheless (and out of the blue) I chose Ommegang’s Game of Thrones #3 edition, Fire and Blood based purely on the reputation of the brewery. I didn’t even know what style of beer this was.

Later that evening, hoping to be pleasantly surprised, I unwrapped the cage and worked the cork out of the first bottle.

F&B foamThe pouring showed the reddish-brown color under a two-inch head. Carbonation was vigorous. The aroma was a slight maltiness. The head was very creamy and tight knit.

The first sip was damn good. There was a nice medium body and there was definitely something Belgian about this beer. It had a faint hint of saison flavoring in the background. There was a really nice sweetness which rose up in the second sip. This may be a quasi-mystery beer of sorts. But it was early on in the sampling.

Right off the bat I started wondering… what if you blended their Hennepin saison with their Abbey ale. I’d bet you could get real close to what was in the glass next to me. Chances are, however, that a red ale recipe was used and fermented with some strain of saison yeast to produce the final result. Although the above mentioned beers weigh in a little heavier ABV-wise than Fire & Blood, a cutback on some of the darker malts was probably done to round out the recipe and bringing it in at 6.8%.

The beer was a real treat to the tastebuds. Some pilsner notes came forward. The unique flavor was a delight during the first glass. However, that saison-type sweetness may become a bit too much later on.

The Ommegang site, in their description of this beer, stated that deseeded Ancho chilies were used in the brew, but no spicy heat was detected during the first sippings. I did detect a little spiciness later on. It lingered; it stayed. Ah, there was the fire. It had to build up its forces before the attack.

After the first glassful drained, I was still of the mind that this F&B was a combination of Hennepin and Abbey ale with a clever twist on the recipe to reflect the name of the beer. While many other breweries are hopping the hell out of some of their beers, Ommegang sticks to what it knows, and that’s Belgian brewing and making them interesting.

This beer would be a great surprise beer for a patio party or some other gathering. After the first round of craft beer is gone, spring this one on the guests. I’m sure there’d be many smiles and raised eyebrows. The ladies may or may not like it.

F&B glass

If you see a bottle of Fire and Blood on the shelf and you have an extra 10 bucks, buy it for yourself. You will not be disappointed. Look at the blood in the glass, wait for the fire later.

Fire&Blood labelsThe SixPackTech summary for Ommegang Fire and Blood Red Ale:

Style: Specialty Beer
Taste: Like a blend of Belgian saison and Abbey ales.
Smoothness: Really slick going down.
Drinkability: The sweetness may get on your nerves later on if the spices don’t.
Bang for the buck: Not bad for this unique taste.
Amount paid: $9.99 per 750ml bottle, caged and corked.
Get it again? I’ll wait for the next season premiere of GoT.
ABV: 6.8%
Brewer’s website
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: It’s not real red. (sniff) Yeah, not much to it. (sip) … ? … (sip) It’s bitter. I’m not getting sweet. I’m getting tart.  (sip) It’s like wet bitterness. (I am completely at a loss for words on that one.)

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Brewery Ommegang Tour – 2013 [3:35]





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