It has been fascinating to watch the evolution of Brewery Ommegang’s TV tie-in series of beers, inspired and informed as they are by Game of Thrones. The series began in fairly humble fashion: Golden ale, stout—but then began growing in its esoteric approach. The third beer, Fire and Blood, was a smoky, chile-spiced red ale meant to evoke dragon fire. The fourth, Valar Morghulis, was a Belgian dubbel meant to promote quiet contemplation of man’s mortality. Now, no. 5 in the series has arrived—or it will on store shelves April 6, just in time for fans to pick up and pair with the show’s season five premiere on April 12. Paste, thankfully, got a bottle a little bit early for the sake of a pertinent review—thanks, Ommegang!
GoT beer number five is Three-Eyed Raven, a “dark saison” that Ommegang says came out of “our desire to create a complex brew that—like the raven itself—is simultaneously one thing and yet another.” It’s another step toward the avant garde for the series, and into a style that is essentially undefined—you won’t find “dark saison” on a BJCP scoresheet. In our opinion, it’s a welcome diversion—this series is a chance to experiment and have fun with nonstandard beer styles that fit each theme. The series as a whole is proving quite a lot more inspired than one would typically look for from a movie/TV tie-in.
The nose on Three-Eyed Raven offers quite a few distinct notes—there’s the estery Franco-Belgian funk that is essential to the style, and more than a little peppercorn spice. It’s followed up by a bit of banana, nuttiness and earthy notes. Other than the nuttiness, it’s a classic dry saison profile.
On the palate, this is a very complex, thoughtful brew that almost becomes a tad confused at times. Spice and yeasty flavors dominate, as in many of the authentic, classic saisons from Belgium. The “dark” part of the flavor palette doesn’t come through quite as strongly—looking for it specifically you can get some nuttiness and toasted malt flavors, but if I was blindfolded, I’m not sure I’d be able to tell you this beer is as dark as it appears in the glass. There are some pleasant dark fruity flavors, however, chased by a grainy note on the back end. More deep, dark fruitiness opens up as it warms. You might almost say it’s like a lighter-bodied Belgian Dark Strong ale.
There’s a lot of complexity here, although the roasted aspect may have been downplayed a tad from what one would expect, based on the color. All in all, though, it’s another intriguing, unique effort from Ommegang, and packs another beautiful label sure to be a collector’s item for Thrones fans. Now that winter is no longer coming, you can snap up a bottle at your leisure—it should make a perfect pairing for the series’ return on April 12.
Brewery: Brewery Ommegang
City: Cooperstown, NY
Style: Dark saison
ABV: 7.2% ABV
Availability: 750 ml, cork and cage bottles, available April 6