Sep 24, 2012

Brewery Ommegang Biere d’Hougoumont

Fall is officially here, but when living in Virginia the Summer heat hasn’t totally decided to make the seasonal transition. And as my mind races to visions of porters and stouts on the back deck after raking leaves for hours, I still relish the opportunity to sit back on a warm afternoon with a lighter, refreshing brew. A recently purchased bottle of Brewery Ommegang’s Biere d’Hougoumont served just that purpose the other day.

Brewed as a Bière de Garde, this limited release from one of my favorite companies weighs in at 7.3% ABV. But that’s not all. The beer is crafted using a French yeast and hops (Strisselspalt variety) and then aged for an undisclosed period of time on white oak and hard maple wooden staves. The result is an another outstanding one-off creation from the brewery.


Deep amber in color the beer sits with a persistent crown of dense, off-white foam.


The effect of the wood aging on this brew is subtle, but does add an interesting twist to the style. Along with the distant wood is a well balanced blend of grain, grassy hops, a subtle barnyard must of the yeast and a decent caramel malt backbone.


While the oak and maple presence within the nose was subdued, it comes out more in the flavor profile, especially as the beer has had a chance to warm in the glass. A very subtle bit of funk arrives accompanied by grain, biscuit malt, light fruits, grassy hops and a well balanced, though sweeter than expected, caramel malt presence. A touch of hop bitterness arrives softly in the lingering, drying finish.


All in all, Biere d’Hougoumont was a tasty treat. It’s a bit sweeter and not quite as crisp as most Bière de Gardes that I’ve had int he past. I do like the additional wood aging and what it has done to make the beer more unique without affecting the overall character and drinking experience. It’s a well crafted beer that I think would also do well with a little time in the cellar. Now, if I could only find another bottle or two.

Rating: 4.25/5

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