Confession time: I’ve never watched Game of Thrones, which is odd because I’m usually a sucker for quality programming that’s heavy on gratuitous sex and dragons. Luckily, you don’t have to be a fanboy to enjoy Valar Morghulis, the latest Game of Thrones collaboration between Brewery Ommegang and HBO.
Even without having a deep Thrones knowledge engrained in my psyche, this beer has its appeal. It’s a big, important looking bottle that’s obviously meant to be poured into big, important looking goblet. I can see some brutal Medieval tyrant drinking this beer while lording over his kingdom. Even the name is regal and foreboding. Apparently, “Valar Morghulis” means “all men must die.” Breezy. Game of Thrones fans chose the name as well as the style of beer (dubbel) through a Facebook poll.
The beer pours a deep, rosy mahogany with a solid head and smells faintly of berries and alcohol. Honestly, it smells like a champagne pyramid, or more accurately—like a wedding reception. It’s a wispy and ridiculously effervescent beer with a mouthfeel so light, it’s practically hollow. Think “Tiny Bubbles” by Don Ho.
Dubbels are known for their malty sweetness, but I don’t pick up a lot of those typical caramel, candied sugar notes in Valar Morghulis…at least not at first. It has a vague, berry sweetness to it with a finish as dry as the Sahara. It’s almost too crisp and fleeting at first, but Ommegang wants you to drink this dubbel at 55 degrees, and with good reason. As the beer warms, the malt bill comes forward, and the beer becomes this swirling delicacy of dark cherries and sugary sweetness.
You have to respect a beer that evolves with each sip. Even if it foretells your certain demise.
Brewery: Brewery Ommegang
City: Cooperstown, N.Y.
Availability: Limited, in 750ml bottles