While lost deep in thought one day, I lamented the fact that I didn’t have a dark and somber beer to match the pensive look on my face. As I furrowed my brow and stroked my long, ZZ Top-esque beard, I cried out, “Oh, why can’t a beer exist as complex and deep as my thoughts!” And suddenly, the heavens split open, and out from the blinding oblivion, the Ommegang Brewery Three Philosophers Belgian Quadruple Ale settled gentle as a feather into my eager, outstretched hands. “Alas!” I exclaimed, “my multitude of wondrously deep pondering can now be matched by an ale!”
Wow, it’s hard to even joke about that level of pretension… Ok let’s start over. The Ommegang Brewery Three Philosophers Belgian Quadruple Ale was a hell of a beer. Being a quad, I had high hopes for this guy (or girl, if you fancy that) and it delivered. Described by the brewery itself as a beer “made for contemplation”, it certainly evoked contemplation just by drinking it. It’s dangerous to go alone, so I took my Taste Bud Xavi on this ponderous journey with me. Here’s what we thought:
At 45 degrees F (5 degrees below the suggested serving temp of 50 F)
- Hint of caramel sweetness in the aroma, strong boozy alcohol aroma that kind of dominated at this temperature. Hints of vanilla and tart cherries seemed to be underneath the alcohol. The aroma was very subdued and a little disappointing for such a big beer.
- For whatever reason, the first word that came to both our minds when we tried this was “burgundy”. It tasted like an after dinner liqueur, like cognac or brandy, or even a sweet, complex red wine. It had a big body, with vanilla notes and hints of tart cherries that matched the aroma. I kept tasting a root beer float, which was weird. Xavi was not because he had never had one before (?!) We both agreed this would be a great dessert beer.
At 55° F (5° above the suggested serving temp)
- The aroma was in the same ratios just more present. This meant the alcohol smell was stronger, but so was the vanilla, tart cherry, and caramel sweetness that was present initially. Everything just got bigger!
- More cherry flavor from the 2% cherry Kriek they mixed in with the quad. The flavor got more boozy as well. Finally, at about 60° F the boozy quality went away for the most part and the vanilla and cherry notes really shined through. A lot of people report a sour note with this beer, but neither Xavi nor I were able to detect it, perhaps because I didn’t let the beer age, or Ommegang didn’t, or both.
Overall, this beer did what it said it was going to do, which was to make you think! Xavi and I thought up a storm while drinking this one and it was a solid Belgian quad. I’d give it a 9 out of 10 for flavor and a 7 out of 10 for aroma. So, as you sip this beer, ponder the words of the great French philosopher René Descartes; “I drink, therefore I am”, or something along those lines.