The Halftime Pint: Ommegang BPA

Move over, Disney. This is the real happiest place on Earth. (credit: Tripadvisor.com)

The Beer: BPA, Brewery Ommegang, Cooperstown, New York

The Pub: Iron Horse Taproom, in Northwest DC

What you need to know: Belgian Pale Ale is the “lawnmower beer” of the most complex beer culture in the Western world. According to Beer Advocate’s writeup of the style, it was originally developed after World War II for Belgian brewers to compete with the widely spreading Czech pilsner. That said, it’s not too far off of an English or American Pale Ale in flavor or color. However, the fruity characteristics typical of a Belgian yeast combined with the relative simplicity of grain bill give it just that twinge of distinction.

Brewery Ommegang is a farmhouse brewery situated on 136 rolling acres in the old hop belt of America, Central New York. The brewery was founded in 1997, and was purpose-built for brewing Belgian-style ales. This is one of the few breweries reviewed here that I’ve actually visited, and I can honestly say that it’s one of the happiest places on Earth. The Brewery sold controlling interest to Duvel in 2003, but their Belgian overlords allow them free reign to brew as they like, and so they still brew their lineup of 6 year-round Belgian-style ales with about a dozen seasonal special ales. The BPA, in fact, began as a seasonal ale before going full-time last year.

So, About this beer: Pours a pale amber with a thin white head. Straw and bitter hop aromas on the initial raise. A heavily carbonated mouthfeel carries fruity malt sweetness, subsumed quickly by a bitter hop snap. Heavy mineral flavors in the aftertaste. A really nice beer that mixes Belgian fruitiness with the flavors you’ve come to expect from an American-brewed pale ale.

The Verdict: Now, while this isn’t my favorite offering from this brewery (that would be either their eponymous Abbey Ale or their Hennepin saison, depending on which day you ask me), it’s quite tasty, and the fruity characteristics provided by the yeast make it different enough to stand out in a quite frankly crowded style. I’d recommend it as a very good alternative to the typical pale ale, and it’s definitely a cut above other Belgian pales.

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4 responses to “The Halftime Pint: Ommegang BPA

  1. Keith, I’m going to be in DC tomorrow evening for the US-Brazil game. Any recommendations about where to go before and after?

  2. Goat- absolutely. Beforehand, I might recommend the Queen Vic if you’re up for some good English ales and food (seriously; the chef there does some incredible things with meat). It’s also a good jumping-off point for some other pregame spots- Granville Moore’s, which has excellent Belgian fare, is right down the block, and the Biergarten Haus, which is as it suggests (so, French!), would also be good. There’s also a Jewish deli/Irish Pub called the Star and Shamrock in the same area. If you’d like to be closer to the Metro line to get you out to FedEx, there are a bunch of really good places around the Eastern Market stop. I’d recommend Belga and 7th Hill Pizzeria if you’re out there. As for after, depends on where you’re staying.

  3. Hey Keith,
    Thanks for the advice.  I’m driving up now with a buddy.  We’re staying in Arlington (Crystal City) but we might try to hit up some of the places you suggested.  Are you going to the game?

  4. I did not go to the game. If you’re still in Crystal City for today, the Crystal City shopping center (all underground) is doing an art festival. Worth checking out.

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