If you’re an avid Game of Thrones fan like any number of us here at Food Republic, you’re all fired up for the new season premiering this coming Sunday, April 6. If you’re hosting a viewing party and can’t figure out what to serve, we have you covered. Fortunately the choice of ale is easy, as Ommegang Brewery has released its third collaboration: Fire and Blood Red Ale. Whether you serve it in a horn is up to you. I had a chance to try the brew before the premiere and think it’s just about the perfect pairing with a Westeros specialty like Baratheon Boar Ribs.
The brew gets its name from the House Targaryen motto of "Fire and Blood" and sports three different labels with each of Daenerys’ dragons adorned on the bottle. Fans of the show will recall last season's over-the-top bloodfest of the Red Wedding, widely dubbed "the scene of the year." A much-needed drink in the form of a strong red ale is great way to segue from that critical scene into season 4, where we'll see how much those dragons have grown. Speaking of which, how does the beer taste?
Considering the intensely dark label imagery, I was surprised at the restraint and balance of the brew itself. If you’re looking at this beer questionably because of the ancho chilis listed in the ingredients, don’t be put off. The chilis are there for flavor — there’s little heat to speak of, so don’t expect to breathe fire after a sip (perhaps seek out Stone Brewing Company’s Punishment, if fire-breathing is your idea of a fun time). There isn’t really a category for non-sour Belgian red ales, but leave it to Ommegang to blend styles together — Belgian dubbel and saison in this case — to great effect.
The Game of Thrones-approved brew instantly smells of sweet Belgian yeast, floral hops, dark fruits and chipotle chili smoke, especially as it warms and breathes. The flavor has some rye spice, light hoppiness, raisin and fig sweetness, plus earthy smokiness from the pepper. All these flavors work together to mask the 6.8% ABV almost entirely. As fans of spice, we could have done with a little more heat but that would detract from the lovely drinkability, a trait we’ve come to expect from Ommegang beers.
The brewery created another winner by staying true to what it does best: flavorful Belgian-style beers. This one will appeal to audiences who might not be familiar with Belgian beer and serves as a nice reminder that chilis don’t have to make you sweat to enhance your beer. While Blood & Fire might not replace lineup standouts Hennepin, Abbey Ale or Three Philosphers, it’s a welcome experiment and fun way to "play along" with the show by one of the best Belgian-style breweries in the country. Now if they'd only make it in a can so we can use these crazy chainmail koozies.
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