I visited the Route 6 Liquors bottle shop for a list of their new brews in order to update their Beer Menus account. It looked like all of the stuff was still in boxes stacked by the front door. Sue, the proprietor, was busy unboxing product and updating the store inventory database. During the course of chit-chat, I spotted a boxful of beer that I had heard about last month or so. It was a new Ommegang Game of Thrones beer called Bend the Knee. The label said it was a Golden Ale Brewed with Honey. I don’t know why, but I immediately started drawing comparisons in my head to Unibroue’s Don De Dieu, a Belgian Wit.
I told Sue that I’d be back for some Ommegang Bend the Knee the next day. Of course, there I was the next day plucking a couple of Ommegang 750s off the shelf.
Bend the Knee was announced back in February for a Memorial Day release in 46 states. Here it is in Flatland on the eve of the new 7th season. Sunday night, HBO will premiere season 7 of Game of Thrones and I found it apropos that this beer showed up almost at my doorstep on the eve of the presentation. And… it was my favorite style of beer: Belgian.
If you are not a fan of GoT, please bear with me; this is about the beer, not the show.
The beer came with three different labels with sigils signifying the House of Stark, the House of Lannister and the House of Targaryen. I had to choose which two labels, but it didn’t matter. This wasn’t the World Series or the SuperBowl. It’s beer. We come for the beer, not the fandom.
The bottles themselves looked majestic all in flat black. But the shiny silver lettering I found hard to read even with my glasses. What a gig Ommegang has. They brew a beer for a TV show and HBO kicks in some bucks. Some genius marketing went on when GoT first premiered.
For tonight’s imbibement, I decided on the Tripel Karme1337* tulip/chalice/froo-froo glass because what the hell.The beer doesn’t care how it’s drunk, as long as it’s not hidden in a can or bottle. Beer likes to be looked at.
Here we go.
The beer poured with the usual super thick expand-a-foam head. The carbonation was vigorous and the liquid was a hazy shade of yellow. The aroma was slight but I think I caught a whiff of some hops in there. I wonder how close this beer will taste to Don De Dieu, Unibroue’s gift to us all.
The beer had a great medium mouth feel and had the typical spiciness one would taste in a tripel, buy this one was different. The spiciness was pulled back, perhaps by the honey, leaving me wanting just a tad more taste from each swig.
The beer is very smooth from beginning to end and the hops are completely hidden. But I know they’re in there because I smelt ‘em. As far as resembling Don De Dieu, it’s in the ballpark, but more like the Don’s younger brother.
Bend the Knee is a Belgian golden strong ale brewed with pils malt and flaked oats and hopped with Saaz, Bravo, and Styrian Golding hops. Don De Dieu is an abbey-style triple wheat beer. The tastes are very similar but the ingredients are different. I find that the golden strong resemble a saison on steroids, while a tripel has those banana and clove spices that distinguish the style.
As the sips went on and my palate became accustomed to the visitor, I got more flavor. The beer must have read the second paragraph because it seemed to bolden up a bit. Therefore I must retract some of what I wrote above and deem this beer on a par with Don De Dieu. I think it might even be better.
It would be very interesting to partake in a side by side comparison of the two beers. Chances are you’d be able to distinguish one from the other but the differences would be small. Overall, it is exactly what the brewers tried to make, a drink that is fit for a king. Whether or not Bend the Knee will enhance your enjoyment of the new season of GoT tomorrow night would depend on what time you start work Monday morning.
Duvel Moortgat has kept the Belgian style of beer at the forefront of all the many styles that beer can become. It’s my wish that they keep doing what they’re good at.
Style: Belgian Golden Strong
Taste: Delicious at first, then divine.
Smoothness: Nary a bump in the track all the way down.
Bang for the buck: Not bad, I guess. We all have our opinions on bombers versus sixpacks.
Amount paid: $9.99 per 750ml bottle.
Get it again? Yes, perhaps I will.
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: (The wife of my life has contracted a pretty bad rash. The red spots have broken out on her neck and she is on some heavy [for her] medication. She begged off tasting lest she break out with a case of farts.)
MEDIEVAL LAND FUN-TIME WORLD [5:50]