If I were to ever join a gang - it would have to be the Ommegang - America’s first farmhouse brewery in over 100 years, situated in Cooperstown in New York state. I’d have a pied-a-terre in New York City and would spend the week brewing ‘cool’ beers and the weekend stuffing my face with pizza whilst listening to jazz in the shabby chic bars of Greenwich Village.
Oh to dream!*
Ommegang isn’t a brand I know too well - so today’s beer was chosen in an effort to find out more about this bizarre sounding brewery that seems to be knocking out interesting stuff on a very regular basis.
However, Rosetta - a sour cherry ale or kriek - is actually made and blended by Ommegang’s sister brewery which goes by the name of Liefmans (you may have heard of them - lol).
As I’ve said before - grab almost any beer off the shelf these days and there’s some gnarly story behind how it got there - beer is just so interesting!
Ommegang didn’t think that the climate and their infrastructure was quite right for perfecting this beer, so they handed the crafting duties to Liefmans, who have been the standard bearer for this style for over three hundred years. Smart move!
Krieks are traditionally made by starting with a lambic base beer, to which cherries are added and left for a period of several months or so, causing a re-fermentation thanks to the additional sugar. Liefmans, however, bring their own twist to the style. These crafty brewers start with a base of Oud Bruin (a tart Flemish brown ale) and then blend in their Cuvee Brut which is a cheerful cherry beer (their words, not mine - I would never use such shameless alliteration).
Their website also promises me a beer of “elegance, depth, complexity and an intriguing interplay of tartness and sweetness.”
Let’s see if it delivers…
Attractive mahogany brown with a pink tinged head that bears testimony to the fruit addition. The nose is outrageous and has me transported back to the sweet shops of my youth - rummaging through cherry chews, chocolates and cola bottles whilst swigging on a Dr Pepper. The vibe continues on the palate which is confected and perfumed but tart and refreshing. The cherry hit lingers into the finish in a really pleasant way too with further balance from some subtle bitterness.
Balance is so important in beer and here we see it cleverly achieved through the blending of two opposing beer styles. The tart bruin and the sweet cherry ale.
It sort of makes you wonder why more beers aren’t made through blending? It feels like the modern take on this art is really the blending of styles to create new style hybrids - specifically seen in the ever expanding IPA category - think IPLs, cold IPAs, rye, milkshake and so on…
At the same time though, the popularity of barrel-worked beers, which really lend themselves to blending, is potentially opening the door to a resurgence. It will be interesting to see where this leads.
In the meantime, grab yourself a Rosetta and enjoy a beautifully bundled beverage of balance!**
* To be honest, I already stuff my face with pizza most weekends.
** Ok, I lied about the alliteration thing...