Happy Valentine’s Day! What is more complex than unrequited and exceptionally hormonal young love, the melding of two hearts, awkwardly clumsy teenage caresses, and so forth? How about the nose of a well-done Belgian beer? Belgian darks have such a rich and deep color, and a nose that makes you close your eyes and hover over the glass inhaling every nuance, losing track of time. They are, in my opinion, one of the most intricate beer styles, and a well done one almost shorts out your senses.
Ommegang XV (9.6% abv) is an “extremely limited” release that came out in October, packaged in a special tin in a 750ml bottle. It poured a rich walnut color, with mahogany tones to it as well. The beer had a big, foamy head that stayed for the duration of drinking the beer. As I drank it, the bubbles formed a thick and drippy lace along the glass.
The aroma had malty caramel scents like toffee, but also hints of the yeast were there creating a tart, estery undertone. I also noticed some raisin and fig scents on the nose.
Ringing in at a slightly higher ABV than your average Belgian dark, this creamy, full bodied and warming beer had some active carbonation with a slick mouthfeel, and started out a little tart, quickly giving way to warming sensations as the toffee malts and tastes of stone fruits come rushing in, leaving me with tastes of candi sugar and a lingering alcohol sensation in the throat. As it warmed up some more to about 65 degrees, the malts and yeasts became more pronounced. The malts balance out the tart yeast scents, allowing the sweeter notes to shine through.
This beer has a pricetag of $20, which is more than I normally pay for a beer, let alone a non-import Belgian. But it’s still a good example of the style, I even bought an additional one to cellar, so it’s worth trying if you see it when you’re out and about. My only regret was not waiting for it to warm enough before drinking it. And that I have to wait a few years to drink my second bottle.