I’ve been complaining a lot about Ommegang lately, and here’s an example of why. In a nutshell, the brewery has hopelessly lost their way in terms of moving away from focussing solely on the greatness of their past, and of late producing a bunch of beers that have nothing to do with their Belgian-styled roots, and everything to do with pandering to a dumb marketplace.
Given the potential significance of such a milestone beer, you’d think that Ommegang would dip into the huge depth of great Belgian-styled experience that they have, but no. Now, to be fair we haven’t got into ill-advised IPAs and such, but this beer is not what I expected (or wanted) it to be.
Some sources have this listed as a Belgian Strong Dark, but if one were to classify it as such, then I would think it was absolutely awful. If that’s what Ommegang thinks it is, I’m sad. It’s called an Imperial Amber Ale on the label, and it drinks like an Imperial Red. Imperial red ales are just fine, but they are simply not a style that is in Ommegang’s wheelhouse, and it shows.
Pour is an ugly, Dubbel-like affair, murky brown with some bronze highlights. Head is OK, but has poor retention and little to no lace. Some cardboard in the nose and lots of malts (appropriate).
The tastes are a pretty large malt base with the bitter hop presence draped over the top. That’s entirely appropriate for the style, and in that respect no criticism, but the coriander lends an odd bitterness for me, and the orange is also just another layer of bitterness that adds muddiness rather than complexity. There’s an onion element too (not sure of the hop bill here), and it feels flabby.
Mouthfeel has a little syrup, and that’s not great. Bitterness is just not very subtle or very nice. Sigh. To be fair this is slightly past its best at 04 12 23, but it really shouldn’t be that badly affected a couple of months down the road. Non-subtle bitterness lingers. Not good.
I dunno, just imagine a 750mL corked and caged, beautifully presented big, bold BSDA or BSPA, or an Imperial Wit, or even (not my preference) a big, Belgian Stout as their 25th Anniversary beer. Instead we get 12oz of a muddy Red Ale. Such a shame, such a huge miss, but says so much about what Ommegang has become … it actually makes me sad.