Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Cooperstown, NY - Brewery Ommegang

a Scott F post

After a few days in New York City catching the sites and sipping on Brooklyn Lager and Brown Ale, we took the scenic route back towards Ontario that brought us through Cooperstown, NY. Home of the Baseball Hall of Fame, Cooperstown is the definition of a quaint little American town.

After checking into the Landmark Inn, a remarkably clean and comfortable bed and breakfast in the heart of town (the manliest B&B in town, of course), we strolled down the road to the main street looking for a bite to eat. We found our way to The Pit at the Tunnicliff Inn, lured in by the promise of $15 steak and crab and a selection of local libations. The highlights of the meal were two beers they had on tap, both from Brewery Ommegang, which just so happened to be 15 minutes down the road in the rolling hills of Cooperstown.

After visiting Fly Creek Cider Mill and Orchard the next day and picking up some of their famed sweet hard cider we meandered our way towards the brewery. Situated, appropriately, on a former hop plantation (evidently New York was once a hot bed of hop production), Brewery Ommegang’s facilities feel about as far from the United States as one can get.

And the beer is distinctly non-American as well. Brewed using traditional Belgian methods, Ommegang beers fuse carefully chosen hops with a variety of other spices (from Coriander to orange peel to grains of paradise!) to create some of the most unique and flavourful beers I’ve ever experienced. I can hear all the country boys out there saying “I don’t want no fancy herb concoctions in ma’ beer buoy!” but fear not my fair-weather friend. Ommegang balances these flavours masterfully so that they all enhance the hop profile without overpowering or even being utterly discernible on the tongue.

With six staple beers in arsenal along with a variety of seasonals and a selection from their parent company lead by the fantastic Belgian ale, Duvel; the variety achieved while staying within one category (Belgian-style ales), is almost mind blowing.

Two clear standouts from the collection that sat particularly well with my pallet were their Rare Vos and Hennepin. Rare Vos, an amber ale at 6.5% ABV, was one of those beers that makes you turn the bottle, stare at the label and say “wow” after your first sip (you’ve done it, and seen it done). You get a slight orange citrus taste but the spice and hop notes are what make this beer one of a kind. Hennepin, otherwise known as “that beer I’d choose with my final meal on death row,” is an exceptional ‘farmhouse ale,’ 7.7% ABV, that again features a complex spice mix that achieves an exceptional balance and mouth feel. It’s hoppy, refreshing, and completely delicious.

I'm always impressed when brewers push the envelope with their beer marketing and packaging. Brewery Ommegang has gone to exceptional lengths to provide a unique story for each of their brews; ranging on topics from brewers on stilts to pigeon races. Check out to read all of the engaging stories. The stories are supported by beautiful packaging and labels. 

Speaking with the guides at the brewery we found out that Brewery Ommegang was pushing out beer at capacity in the Northeast United States which likely means we won’t see the beers at the LCBO or Beer Store anytime soon. If you find yourself in upstate New York, though, Brewery Ommegang, and the beautiful town of Cooperstown in which it resides, are definitely worth a visit and a savour.

And for HBO fans, don’t miss their Game of Thrones-themed beer Iron Throne, and their just announced follow up Take the Black Stout.


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