May 24, 2018

Ommegang Hand of the Queen

Ommegang’s Hand of the Queen is a recent release for their Game of Thrones series of branded releases. It’s also, I believe, the first barleywine from the brewery — at least the first that I have ever encountered that they’s made. The 10.7% ABV brew isn’t as smooth or refined as many of the examples of the style that I hold in high regard. It’s a good beer, but feels a bit rough around the edges due to its robust nature and booziness.

Amongst the bready notes, caramel and dark fruit notes, there’s an interesting herbal hop character that gives Hand of the Queen an interesting twist that sets it apart from the crowd. That herbal note, along with a moderate sweetness, also gives this big beer a medicinal trait in the very warming finish. Ommegang have themselves an interesting beer here, but I think it’s one that shouldn’t be enjoyed fresh. The elements within its rusty appearance need more time to come together in the bottle before cracking it open — smooth out those edges some and allow the potent alcohol to mellow.

There were aspects of Hand of the Queen that I really enjoyed. The dark fruit notes and herbal hop flavors were a nice touch. It’s funny, though, as I enjoyed the big beer, I was half expecting it to present a Belgian yeast flavor profile. I feel, however, that this beer needs to mellow and mature a bit in the bottle before enjoyment. It’s just too big and robust at the moment. A year or so in a dark basement will do this beer some good.