Tasting the 2008 Ommegang Chocolate Indulgence

In 2007 Brewery Ommegang celebrated its 10th year brewing Belgian Style Beers by creating the Chocolate Indulgence, a Belgian style chocolate stout brewed with chocolate malts and authentic Belgian chocolate. It was well said by Charles Dickens, as is quoted on the side of the bottle, “theres nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with chocolate.”

This was one of the earlier craft beers that I bought with the intention of ageing it. I bought it in Vermont during the Vermont Brewers Festival in 2008, and only opened it yesterday to celebrate one of my good friends birthdays. I love these types of occasions, and a delicious and special beer that has been resting for over 2 years maturing and ageing on its own only adds to the celebration and level of excitement. Who knows whats happened while in hibernation… Has it become stronger or mellowed, thicker or softer? There’s only one way to find out!

The Chocolate Indulgence comes in a 750ml Belgian Style corked bottle at 7% abv. I really didn’t know what to expect from this beer. At 7% it should not be terribly potent or overpowering, but it is by Ommegang, which leads me to believe that it will be full flavored and rich. It’s a Belgian Style Stout, so it could be very effervescent, but its two years old now, so will it be smooth? This is a wonderful world of exciting beer that I was living in, and was dying to finally open this bottle.

I did finally open it up after much contemplation at the high end of the cool temperature range around 11 or 12C (54F) and poured it gently into a Belgian style chalice. Prior to opening the bottle I took a good look into the bottom where a clearly defined island of sediment had built over time. This is of course a bottle conditioned beer, but I have never seen sediment like that. Even after several vigorous shakes I couldn’t remove it all from the base of the bottle.

The pour was smooth and oily pouring out of the bottle like liquid silk. It hit the bottom of the glass with amazing calmness, and eventually did build up a short, 3/4 inch dense light brown head. The foam showed medium airy bubbles hovering on top in the center of the beer, but every milliliter outwards they got tinier, denser, and creamier. The beer shone a deep pitch black with dark rich brown hovering on the edges of the glass. No light could come through here… Awesome.

The nose was richly roasty with dark chocolate, cocoa beans, chocolate malts, and hints of dark fruit. Actually, the more time I spent hovering over the beer, the more I picked out raisins, dates, prunes and molasses. Its all very softly woven into the roast though; that is what is most dominant in the scent.

Letting the Chocolate Indulgence in was a smooth and silky treat of roasted malts, high percentage dark chocolate, and mellow sweet and sticky dried fruits. The first wave is a soft glide of wide malt flavors that easily melt off your tongue and flow everywhere. Gentle chocolate malts show roast, hints of bitter, and smooth sweet brown sugar. Only hints of it though.

Dates, prunes, plums and dried papaya show up here now in the center of the beer adding a fruity, lightly tart sensation balancing out the otherwise oily roast of the Indulgence. The mouthfeel is definitely silky, and medium bodied at most. At only 7% I wouldn’t expect it to be thick, but I’m not sure why Ommegang didn’t do just that. This was smooth and delicious with very sensual flavors of roast chocolate and real cocoa, but I can’t help but imagine that if it were 10 or 11% it would just be bursting with huge richness and lush sensations.

That being said, not every beer should be big and menacing. This is a great beer to accompany a wide range of meals with, and is also perfect to use to introduce newbies to the word of chocolate stouts. It is lightly effervescent (and is probably more so when fresh), but smooth with soft cocoa and roast flavors and an easy finish without much bitterness. This is the perfect equation to start off with into a world of typically potent beers.


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