My Tour at Brewery Ommegang

Brewery Ommegang

Eric from Brewery Ommegang
Eric, our tour guide

What a fantastic weekend trip. I met a fellow beer nerd in Cooperstown, NY to visit Brewery Ommegang, a Belgian-style brewery in my very own state. It was smaller than either of us expected but no less impressive. We loved it so much, we stopped by again the next day just to pick up a few more souvenirs (Cave-Aged Hennepin review to come).

Our tour guide, Eric, ran us through the brewing process and explained how our beloved Ommegang brews end up in both kegs and bottles. One thing I found extremely interesting is the difference in how they carbonate kegs vs. bottles of beer. Kegs of Ommegang brews are force-carbonated, while the vessels you find at your local beer store are bottle-conditioned. After each beer is bottled and capped, it’s stacked in a room that’s 80° or so. As Eric explained, this is a temperature that is just uncomfortable enough to make the yeast wake up from its cold slumber. For about 2 weeks, the irritated yeast, now up and hungry from hibernation, eats the sugars in the beer which creates the carbonation, giving the beer that crisp lovely feel we all know and love. So, instead of force-carbonating like they do with kegs, they utilize the yeast within the bottled beers. Fantastic!

Brewery Ommegang Tanks

The tour at Ommegang is free, as well as the tasting of each of their fine brews… at the tasting this weekend, we first enjoyed Witte, their Witbier (aka Belgian White). As many of you may know from reading my past posts, I’m not usually a fan of light, filtered wheat beers. Although it wasn’t my favorite of all we tried, I must say… I can see myself choosing it on a hot summer day. It really is that good. High carbonation, spicy and heavily laiden with the taste of a sweet, juicy orange, it’s a perfect choice for Summer. Do me a favor though, if you imbibe in this… FORGET THE ORANGE SLICE. You don’t need it. Thank you.

Brewery Ommegang Tasting Room

Next was Rare Vos, which I’ve had before and enjoy very much. See my review from a party at Dave’s here. After that, we got to try the Ommegang Abbey Ale. Pete has a lovely review of that here.

Following the Abbey Ale was a taste of fresh-brewed Hennepin, Ommegang’s Saison (farmhouse ale), against a tasting of the cave-aged version of the same. That review is to come. Stay tuned.

Ommegang Gift Shop
My tour partner-in-crime, chillin’ in the gift shop

What’s in store for Brewery Ommegang? Listen up beer lovers – this is big. They’re brewing their very first Pale Ale, set to arrive in Spring. I know I’m excited – “beverage-bucket-pumped, even” (for the Lizard). I was equally excited to learn from Eric that the kids at Ommegang are KegWorks fans – we sent them a care package full of fun stuff, including wares from our IITYWIMWYBMAD? line (of course, I was sporting a t-shirt just for the occasion). I’m not gonna lie – it made my day to know that they know of and dig us. They seemed almost excited to meet a KegWorks employee as I was to tour their brewery. Freaking rad.

So, coming soon (most likely tomorrow) is my review of the cave-aged Hennepin – keep an eye out. And if you get a chance to head anywhere in the vicinity of Cooperstown, NY, make sure to swing by and say “Hi” to the great folks at Ommegang.

Cheers!

[techtags:BEER REVIEWS, OMMEGANG, BREWERY OMMEGANG, HENNEPIN, SAISON, ABBEY ALE, WITTE, RARE VOS, CRAFT BEER]

9 Comments

  • Liz(ard) January 25, 2010 @ 9:56am

    Awesome! Glad you had such a blast – I’m definitely going to look into taking a trip and I’d love to do the camp-out.

  • Hannah January 25, 2010 @ 9:57am

    oh Liz! we’re going to have SO MUCH FUN there this summer.

  • JR January 25, 2010 @ 10:04am

    Awesome! Mike dropped off the bottle of Cave-aged Hennepin last night…I think I’m going to save it for the Superbowl. Can’t wait to try it out, though.

    It’s really good that they bottle condition their beer, because that’s really the only way to get the same yeast they use to make a clone. Basically, each bottle has, like you said, some yeast that’s “slumbering.” You can harvest the yeast from the bottle, then propagate it to get enough for an entire batch. For the Abbey Ale clone I did yesterday, I used Wyeast 3787 – Trappist High Gravity, that had previously fermented a Patersbier, so I had a pretty ridiculous amount of yeast to work with.

  • Hannah January 25, 2010 @ 10:15am

    JR – you’re going to love it! … and thanks for delving a bit into your homebrewing/cloning! Pretty rad stuff, man.

  • TattoodBrew January 25, 2010 @ 10:19am

    I’ll be going as soon as i get relocated! Then I’ll have to drag you back! LOL

  • Hannah January 25, 2010 @ 10:21am

    Tattoodbrew – I’m there!

  • Mike January 25, 2010 @ 10:25am

    One of the best brewery/wine tours I’ve ever done. The staff is amazingly friendly and all know what they are talking about. Which made me happy – since Ommegang is my FAVORITE beer! (Three Philosophers, baby!)

  • Randy The Janitor January 25, 2010 @ 10:46am

    Used to mop the floors at the brewery back in the day. I used to crank Freebird on my walkman and used Hennepin instead of water.

  • Hannah January 25, 2010 @ 11:07am

    Mike- I’m with you all the way. Cheers to the fine folks at Ommegang!

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