Monday, August 31, 2009

Ommegang: Belgian-Style Beer Brewed in NY

On a recent trip to visit my family in upstate New York, we decided to finally take a tour of the Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown. Mind you, the brewery has been there for years, but I'm not sure what on earth took me so long to get there!

Ommegang began brewing in Belgium in 1549. In 1997, it opened a US microbrewery on a former hops farm right outside of Cooperstown. Recently, Ommegang was "upgraded" to a regional brewery, and distributes its beer all over the United States.

Driving up to the beautiful, huge, cream colored Belgian barn-style buildings, you feel like you're in Napa. Luckily for us, a tour was just beginning as we arrived, so we jumped right in and began learning about the Belgian brewing process. We started in the "kitchen" room where all the ingredients are mixed at the beginning of the process, and followed it all the way through to the bottling room, then to the fermentation room where the bottled beer sits at 85 degrees for two additional weeks before getting shipped out to distributors. Unlike other beers which have a limited shelf life, Ommegang beers actually improve with age, like fine wine. In fact, the brewery has been leasing "cave space" in the nearby Howe Caverns, but will soon be digging "a great big hole" (as described by our adorable tour guide) on the brewery property to simulate their own cave-aging conditions. The guide assured us that their beer is great to drink right away, but true beer connoisseurs may prefer the taste of the aged brews.

Then it was tasting time!! In all, we tried six beers. We started "light" and tried the Belgian white Witte (my favorite), with flavors of orange peel and coriander. We then moved on to golden Hennepin, the "rich ruby brew", Three Philosophers (cherry undertones), the ambers Biere du Mars (my friend's favorite) and Rare Vos, and finally, Chocolate Indulgence (nicknamed "Obamagang" because it was rolled out at inauguration time earlier this year). We also tasted a few cheese spreads made with beer...the blue cheese variety was the best of the bunch.
The beer is bottled both in traditional 12 oz bottles, or 750ml corked bottles (the same size as a bottle of wine). We opted for a case of the 12 oz Witte bottles, but they also have variety packs available in both sizes.

If you ever find yourself in upstate New York near Cooperstown, definitely check out Ommegang. Not only do they brew some fantastic beers, but the brewery is in a beautiful setting, which they invite you to enjoy with a picnic.

Ommegang beers are available in Fairfield at:

Photos from


zoe p. said...

This sounds really fun! I've never been tempted to go to a local winery but this . . . I'm going to go check how far away Cooperstown is!

The Secret Ingredient said...

It's a little bit of a haul from CT to Cooperstown (around 4 hrs), but I just saw that there is a Brew Fest in Waterbury, CT on September 12th. Something like 250 microbrews.... I'm hoping to check it out!