Ale Brewed with Ancho Chilies and Rye; 6.8% ABV
Brewery Ommegang, Cooperstown, NY
This is the third beer from Ommegang inspired by the epic series Game of Thrones on HBO. Somehow the 1st one completely eluded my radar, even though I’m a fan of both Ommegang and Game of Thrones (D’oh!). I was incredibly lucky to stumble upon a bottle of Take the Black last year, and it is quietly aging in my beer storage. I was also pretty lucky to snag this new entry in the series. Even though I was fully aware of its impending release, I didn’t get out immediately on March 31st (having caught this lovely gastrobug that’s going around) and nearly all of my local beer merchants sold out their single shipment that day.
(Aside – this is certainly not unique to these beers – there seems to be an absolute mania over limited seasonal and special releases; I was floored by how quickly Bell’s Hopslam vanished from stores this year. In previous years, I would still see cases of the stuff on shelves a month or more after release. Not anymore. And that’s at almost $20 a six pack! Some folks must be loading up on case after case of some of these beers. Crazy.)
Anyway, one local beer and wine seller hadn’t yet received their shipment of Fire and Blood when I called to check and I made sure I swung by the day they got it in (thank you Centerville Carryout!), and so I am fully able and happy to review the beer for you here and now. May you also be so fortunate.
Fire and Blood Red Ale pours out a deep reddish copper-amber color with a slight haze, topped with a very generous, thick and dense cream-colored head. (Note regarding my scoring of the appearance – you may have noted that hardly any beers rate a 5/5 here; most often that’s because the beer failed to produce or maintain a decent head. You see, I like my beer to have some foam on top. Well, this baby doesn’t disappoint! It is quite satisfying to finally award full points for appearance!)
Appetizing and intriguing aromas of sweetish malt, spices, hops, yeast, and a hint of chilies.
Moderately light-bodied with a spritzy carbonation.
Piquant, zippy flavors – citrus, floral hops, toasted malt. Tart fruitiness up front with a wine-like oaky/flinty edge followed by light spices (coriander and peppercorn) and a yeasty, bready note; hop bitterness dries the palate out some, then a light chili burn and ancho note appear. Some late dark pit fruit notes round the beer out. Complex and distinctive brew. Leaves behind some large foamy patches on the glass.
Great beer to have with food. This paired pretty nicely with my wife’s version of the Spanish tapa Gambas al Ajillo; I’m sure it would work beautifully with many other dishes.
Rating: Appearance: 5/5 Aroma: 9/10 Palate: 4/5 Flavor: 9/10 Overall: 18/20