The new season of Game of Thrones is almost upon us (squee!), which means that it is also time for Brewery Ommegang to release their third Game of Throne inspired beer. The brewery, which is located nearby in Cooperstown, NY, partnered with HBO to release a line of beers in conjunction with the hit TV show. This was a win/win for me, since I am a big fan of both Game of Thrones and of beer. The fact that Brewery Ommegang is just an hour drive from my house and that they have great food only sweetens the deal. When my friend Kristin’s family decided to make the trek for the first day that the beer was available at the brewery, I wrangled myself an invitation so I could tag along for the fun.
Ommegang was slated to open at noon on Sunday, but when we got there shortly after noon the parking lots were already packed. News flash – people take their beer very seriously. I had anticipated it being crowded, but this many people was something of a surprise. This was the first chance that people would have to taste Fire and Blood Red Ale, the newest beer, unless they were lucky enough to have been at SXSW or had attended the $125 a plate 6 course/6 beer dinner the night before at the Brewery. So people were legitimately excited. The Brewery was also running a bunch of promotions for the big day, but it was still somewhat surprising to see people frantically filling up cases of the new beer. There was already a wait to get a table for lunch, so while we bided our time I quietly bought a bottle of Fire and Blood Red Ale, without having even tasted it, since the sight of the bottles disappearing rapidly from the table made me a little anxious. They had plenty of beer, but I wasn’t taking any chances. Had I done my homework, I would have realized that there are actually three different labels for the Fire and Blood Red Ale – one for each of Daenerys Targaryen’s dragons:
I wouldn’t have purchased three bottles – I’m not THAT big of a fan and since I really only drink when I’m out (rather than at home), I’ll struggle to finish one bottle as it is; I still have a bottle of Iron Throne Blonde Ale (the first Game of Thrones beer) in my refrigerator. But perhaps I would have put a little more thought into which bottle I wanted when selecting a bottle. Instead, I just grabbed the first bottle that I saw that didn’t have a ripped label:
I was also bummed out that I didn’t have a bar in my apartment, simply because this tap handle was pretty bad ass (not new, but the first that I saw it):
While we were semi-patiently waiting for our table, we made our way to the tasting room to get away from the crowd. It was there that we discovered a guy that was fully decked out in a Game of Thrones costume (looked like either something that one of the Starks or the guards of the Night Watch would wear). Sadly, I didn’t take a photo of him because I didn’t want to be in the picture and it would have seemed weird to just take a picture of him. I wound up striking up a conversation with him (because of course I did) and he was a pretty nice guy, though I never really got a read on whether he actually worked for Ommegang or if he just willing to dress up for the debut. I’m guessing the latter, since he mentioned that he goes to a lot of their beer dinners rather than mentioning that he works at a lot of the beer dinners. Regardless, he was a good sport about everything and was happy to pose for photos with anyone that asked. He even gave me some recipe ideas for cooking with beer. All in all, a good egg. So I assume he wasn’t supposed to be a Lannister.
Also in the tasting room was an Iron Throne comprised out of cases of beer. It was pretty cool to look at and proved too much for the 5 year old in our party to resist, though he saw it more as a mountain to climb on than a throne to sit upon:
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity because I was super hungry, we were seated for lunch. We all ordered the Fire and Blood Red Ale, which we had sampled in the tasting room, so that we could get the limited edition glass that came with it:
They also had a Game of Thrones stew (“Bowl of Brown”) that involved the meat of a lot of animals that I’ve never had before – antelope, gazelle, etc. It also had the meat of “a young chicken,” which for some reason just cracked me up. I don’t know that our server was amused. I was tempted to try it, just to be adventurous, but I was way too hungry to be messing around with food I wasn’t sure that I would like. I went with a much more traditional sandwich and frites.
As for the beer itself, it was quite enjoyable. I love beer, but I don’t have enough of a refined palate to really describe the taste; when it comes to beer, if it tastes good, I like it. I’m no snob – you are just as likely to find me drinking PBR (somewhat ironically) as you are to find me drinking a high end ale. I’m generally a fan of the Ommegang beers and their Belgian roots, so it’s not a surprise that I dug the Fire and Blood Red Ale. I don’t normally like to drink alcohol with food (because I’m weird), but I managed to have two glasses of the stuff with lunch which is a clear indication that I liked it. I’ll have to try the Iron Throne Blonde Ale to determine which is my absolute favorite – I don’t like stouts, so the second beer (Take the Black Stout) was a wash for me – but it’s going to be a close call. Ommegang brews some yummy beers. A little disconcerting is the color Fire and Blood Red Ale – it’s definitely got a reddish hue. I briefly felt a little savage gulping it down.
For now, Fire and Blood Red Ale is only available at Ommegang and will roll out in a limited release. The Brewery has a beer locator on their web site to help people track down their beers, though half the fun (in my opinion) is hunting it down yourself. And now I know what I’ll be drinking when the new season of Game of Thrones premieres on April 6th.