In Cooperstown NY lie two very amazing spectacles; the Baseball Hall of Fame, and Brewery Ommegang. Since 1997 Ommegang has been brewing award-winning Belgian-style ales which are truly unique. Over the weekend I revisited one of my favorite beers; the Ommegang Three Philosophers.
The Three Philosophers is 98% a Belgian-Style Quadrupel and 2% a Belgian Kreik (Cheery Ale), comes in a corked 750ml bottle at 9.8% abv, and to me it is truly a perfect pairing of flavors; Brewery Ommegang was able to create a beer which is magnificently delicious. It has a perfect balance of sweet and savory (a balance whose line is very thin) making it an amazing beer choice for so many occasions.
The Three Philosophers pours smooth and creamy raising a dense and richly tan to brown head almost one inch off the surface of the beer. With a close look you can see that the the bubbles are so tightly packed together that you could probably spoon the head alone. The beer is an opaque deep purple, showing a lot of mahogany and brown tones. There is an amber hue that glows in the beer every time light catches a glimpse of it, probably due to the small amount of Kriek in the beer.
The nose is perfect also! It opens you up with a rush of tart cherries and cinnamon spice right away, then underneath you get the rich plum and dried fruits thats that I was expecting from the Belgian Quad. There is a balance of roasted chocolate and malt also, with a slight finish of floral alcohol (it does come out as a very distinct yeast scent which is purely Belgian, paying homage to how well Ommegang has matched the authentic Belgian style) . It is close to 10%, and certainly so far is very obvious of that fact. Really, to me it is everything that a good Belgian Quadroupel of this sort should be: rich, deep, alluring, sexy and seductive with huge amounts of flavor and complexity showing themselves even before the first sip.
As you bring the beer close the nose gets richer, and I can almost taste it before it hits my lips! When you bring it in, all the cherry, ripe fruits, cinnamon, clove and spice rush over your tongue penetrating every inch of your mouth. I had to let this beer really sit and caress my entire palate so that I could absorb all of the flavors. The most powerful characteristic is the fruity malt and spice, no question. But its so complex and there is so much going on that you really need to focus to get everything out of it. Underneath, really coming out in the cheeks is dark chocolate and hazelnut, with also fades into the richness of plums, dates, banana, roast and more spice. There is a rum and molasses sweetness everywhere which is complimented by the tart cherries, and balanced by a very specific Belgian dryness coming out of the yeast. This is really they key; without the dryness, the beer would almost be too much. It would be too sweet, and to complicated. But because it is balanced perfectly between sweet and savory, you don’t have to focus as I just was. You can sit back, relax, and just let the Three Philosophers serenade your palate with beautiful words of wisdom. Its is absolutely gorgeous.
The mouthfeel is the same; complex, filled with life, but also smooth and calming. It feels like it has a great presence, but at the same time doesn’t force the issue. It has a understanding of how to be the man, without running around and shouting about it. Its like your best friend – you know that they are always there for you and will always show you a great time, but they would never have to tell you that. You just know it.
Overall, I love it! This is absolutely a beer I would recommend to everyone, and would be a fantastic beer to use to introduce to new comers who are interested in Belgian beers. Its much easier to drink than it may seem, and it is thoroughly enjoyable. I am willing to bet that it will cellar exceptionally well, however I would also bet that I don’t have the patience to find out, unfortunately! If you are enjoying this with food, I would stick with deserts to best pull out the sweet cherries and chocolate. In such case, try it with a flourless chocolate cake, chocolate mousse, Chocolate Cherry Trifle, or really anything with either chocolate or cherries in it!