This week the honor goes to one of my favorite American brewers, Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, New York and their newest release, “The Art of Darkness.” Ommegang began brewing Belgian-style ales in 1997. Built by Don Feinberg, an aficionado of Belgian beers, it started up in a purpose-built building based on a traditional Belgian farmhouse, set on a former 136-acre (0.55 km2) hop farm in the Susqehanna River Valley, four miles (6 km) south of Cooperstown, New York in the Town of Milford. Since its opening, Ommegang has grown rapidly — in early 2005, its owner said they have been unable to meet demand for their ales and as a result would add 40 percent to their production capacity over the next year. Don Feinberg sold Ommegang in 2003 to Belgian brewer Brouwerij Duvel Moortgat, brewers of the world-renowned Duvel Golden Ale. As a result, Ommegang Ales are made both in Belgium and in Cooperstown, New York. Duvel Moortgat brewed limited amounts of beer for Brewery Ommegang in 2006 to help meet demand. Brewery Ommegang currently distributes its beers in 43 states and Washington, D.C., including Alaska and Hawaii but excluding Montana, Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, West Virginia, and Mississippi. It has also recently shipped beer to Sweden in response to commercial inquiries from that country. Each summer, the brewery hosts a large beer-tasting event, known as Belgium Comes to Cooperstown. The event, which occurs on a Saturday in July, includes four hours of unlimited beer sampling of over 200 Belgian and Belgian-style beers, followed by food, live music, and a bonfire. The 2007 version of the event added a Friday night beer dinner for 250 people, with 7 courses and 14 beers to pair with them.
All of Ommegang’s five full-time Belgian-style ales have won numerous awards, including:
- Cave-aged Hennepin winning the 2004 Great American Beer Festival Gold Medal for French- and Belgian-style Saisons
- Hennepin Farmhouse Ale winning the 2006 World Beer Cup Silver Medal for French- Belgian-Style Saison
- Three Philosophers winning the 2006 World Beer Cup Bronze Medal Belgian-Style Dark Strong Ale
- Witte Wheat Ale won the 2008 World Beer Cup Silver Award for wheat ales, and won the Silver Award again in 2010. 2011 Gold Medal winner at GABF.
- Ommegang Abbey Ale won the Gold Award for Belgian Abbey Ales at the 2010 World Beer Cup
Let us now acknowledge the dark arts of brewing. Our limited edition Art of Darkness Ale is deep, dark and magical, with champagne-like carbonation and rich matiness from a complex recipe of multiple barley and wheat malts, as well as flaked oats. Using no spices or flavorings, Art of Darkness gains all its rich aromas, tastes, and apparent spiciness from the malts and Ommegang’s proprietary house yeast. There are no secret ingredients or magical incantation. There is only Ommegang brewers’ creating the finest quality dark, strong ale of complex and deep character. Art of Darkness is a fine ale to enjoy immediately, and is excellent to cellar.