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Ommegang Rosetta Kriek Review

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Ommegang Rosetta Kriek Review

The further you head as a beer taster into the fringes of craft beer geekdom, the more pretentious things tend to get. It’s an unpleasant reality of this community, but one that can be said of just about any hobby or pastime. The more intense the participant’s passion, the more the sense of entitlement grows.

Nowhere in beer is this more true than when it comes to sours. Tart beer has been the biggest, most transcendent movement in beer in the last five years, and at the same time, expectations for sours have become sky high as a result. And it’s not just expectations of quality—it’s expectations of assertiveness. So often today, beer geeks approach tart beer styles with a measuring stick where volume equates directly to quality—how sour is it? How intense is it? How huge are those fruit flavors? How much does it make your face pucker?

Ommegang’s new year-round kriek, Rosetta, is authoritative proof that the answers to those above questions don’t begin to determine whether the sour you’re drinking is exceptional. Because what Ommegang has released here is a beautiful, approachable, “simple” beer that would barely register on the radar of someone simply looking for a puckering bomb of lactic acid. It’s a fruited sour, yes, but a perfectly balanced one. I can’t imagine a better beer to introduce someone to the concept of tart styles for the first time.

Pouring the beer, it’s unexpected on a couple of levels. For one, it seems a touch overcarbonated, but the really surprising thing is how dark it is—a deep, garnet brown that makes it look like a brown ale or even a light porter in the glass. This makes sense once you realize that Rosetta is not just a straight kriek, but rather “a blend of old (aged on cherries at least three years) and young Flemish brown ale (oud bruin) with a lively and fruity kriek.” The result is influences of both dark and light.

On the nose, the fruit aromas come through in a big way, with bright, fresh cherry but also red berry fruitiness that almost seems more like raspberry. Regardless, it’s bright and intense, and does not feature the punch-in-the-face esters common in Ommegang’s house yeast, presumably because it was blended by Liefmans in Belgium. It smells light, spritzy and approachable.

On the palate, if follows through with all of those impressions. Light of body, it nevertheless has a very nice, creamy texture, with rounded, very fresh and authentic cherry flavors. The darker side of the beer does come forth as well, bringing a little kiss of nuttiness or cocoa that complements the fruit wonderfully. Tartness is present but quite mild, simply there to add some verve to the fruit rather than to challenge the palate. It makes for a very soft and easy-drinking sour with very little funk—one might accuse it of being too one-note, but we certainly aren’t going to, because it’s truly delicious.

This release is nothing short of a home run from Ommegang, particularly as a new year-rounder. It will no doubt be a crowd-pleaser, appreciated by both seasoned beer geeks enjoying a more humble, wish-fulfilling sour beer and newer drinkers experiencing the concept of tart beer for the first time. It serves both roles with aplomb.

Brewery: Brewery Ommegang
City: Cooperstown, NY
Style: Belgian kriek
ABV: 5.6%
Availability: Year-round, 11.2 oz bottles


Jim Vorel is Paste’s news editor. You can follow him on Twitter.