Ommegang Three Philosophers (2013 Bottling)

Quadrupel Ale, 9.7% ABV – 98% dark ale + 2% ale with cherries added (Liefmans Kriek).

Pondering the Magic of Yeast

Brewery Ommegang, Cooperstown, NY

By Bill Lau

Posted January 30, 2015

If memory serves me right (OK, so I’m channeling my inner Chairman Kaga*), I was first introduced to Three Philosophers Quadrupel Ale at the 2008 Ale Fest Dayton. My wife and I attended that year with a beer-loving couple we knew. I’d been pacing myself in my sampling and drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated and moderate the effects of the alcohol. That is, until I sampled this bad boy! I definitely noticed its potency not long after imbibing; but what really struck me first was its rich complexity and general Belgian tastiness.

It’s been awhile since I last tasted this beer – so very, very many beers out there to try. As well, I don’t dive into the higher ABV brews all that often, though winter tends to be the season that finds me more inclined to do so. Ommegang recommends this beer as a good candidate for aging. This particular bottle spent 2 years in the cellar. Maybe I’ll come back in a few years and see what 5 years does to the profile.

*Ref. the original Japanese Iron Chef show – like this beer, a true classic!

Served at cellar temperature. Poured gently into a tulip glass to decant off the yeast sediment in the bottle.

Appearance (5/5): Dark, dull reddish hue shines garnet-amber when held up to light. Clear. Thick & dense beige head rests atop.

Aroma (9/10): Fruity and rich and somewhat winelike, with notes of cherries and currants and hints of yeast and oak.

Palate (4.5/5): Surprisingly light body for a beer this size; spritzy with a fine carbonation bead. Does show a little viscosity in the mouthfeel.

Taste (9.5/10): Holy fermentation, Batman! Are you sure this wasn’t brewed at a Trappist monastery? Complex, fruity, tart, winelike; earthy & yeasty notes in the background. Cherry is evident but restrained and beautifully incorporated. Hints of currants and lingonberries. No obvious hop or malt notes – profile is dominated by the influence of the yeast. Not so much bittering in this as a balancing tartness and drying edge. Bit of a honeyish flavor joins in late.

Overall (18.7/20): Stellar brew. Dangerously drinkable. Wants to pair with soft cheeses (Brie, Camembert, or a good Trappist cheese) or crème brulee. Cheers!

Three Philosophers


3 thoughts on “Ommegang Three Philosophers (2013 Bottling)

  1. terristeffes says:

    Visiting from Kristen’s! My husband loves his beer and I will be telling him about this one! It will be fun to have a bit of beer knowledge to share with him!

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