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