Welcome to Thirsty Thursday, a weekly column where we pick a beer from our fridge and review it, because in a world where two new breweries launch every single week, sometimes we need some help sifting through all of the hops.
For more than two months, I had a 750ml beer in my refrigerator, just waiting for a special occasion. Sometimes, I’ll buy beer that’s on the more rare side and stow it away and I figured what better reason to crack this particular beer open than celebrating New Year’s Day. That beer was Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, a Game of Thrones beer by Ommegang Brewery.
Ommegang has spent several years creating efforts that the company believes would be similar to what the characters of the popular HBO program might have drank in the medieval setting. From an imperial stout for Jon Snow to a barleywine ale for Tyrion Lannister, these four limited edition beers, called the Royal Reserve Collection, won’t be around long in 2019 with the TV series set to wrap before summer – leaving some to wonder what might be next for Ommegang? That remains to be seen early on in the year.
Ommegang is a brewery located near the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Opened in 1997 on 136 acres of land that used to be a hop farm, it was the first farmstead brewery built in the United States in almost 100 years. As mentioned on the company’s website, this area was the epicenter of the country’s hop production back in the 19th Century. Since then, Ommegang has won a handful of awards at the Great American Beer Festival and produces over 35,000 barrels annually. There are six staples in their repertoire and a slew of seasonal and special edition beers throughout the year.
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*clink* This holiday season’s @gameofthrones-inspired gift pack features a collectible glass and a 12 ounce bottle of each of the four 2018 Royal Reserve Collection beers: Hand of the Queen, Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, Mother of Dragons, and King in the North. It’s available now across most of the US. Visit our blog for a link to the beer finder and tips on how to find the gift pack. Link in bio (post is called King in the North.)
As for Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, it hit the market last June. Inspired by Cersei Lannister, this 6.4 percent alcohol by volume effort is a blend of a Belgian sour ale and a Belgian-style blonde ale. The brewery thinks it perfectly fits the character’s personality.
“Cersei is a complex character, and we’ve tried to emulate that profile with this beer, which blends a lovely, dry blonde ale with a subtly tart Belgian sour,” brewery president Doug Campbell said in a statement back when the beer was released.
I purchased this beer as a fan of Game of Thrones but also because of the bottle – it has a simple look, complete with gold writing. Ommegang does a great job not only explaining the flavors of this beer but the story behind the bottle series, dedicating the back of the label to explaining it in depth. You’ll have to buy a bottle to read it for yourself. The smell of Queen of the Seven Kingdoms was pleasant, one I hope all sours aspire to, with a distinct sour smell and a hint of wheat and maybe some fruit as well.
It poured pretty beautifully for a medium-bodied beer, with a gold color reminiscent of the beer’s label and a head that was fairly robust – not to mention the lacing and retention were solid. As for the taste, the sour element wasn’t too overpowering and there was some melon I seemed to notice as well. It was tart on the back-end. Honestly, it tastes a lot like it smells and that’s certainly not a bad thing. However, it’s not super drinkable.
Overall, I think Queen of the Seven Kingdoms is a good representation of what a sour ale should be, keeping the idea fairly simple without losing any of the pizzazz of the style. I don’t think it would be the first sour ale I reached for, but it’s one I know I’d enjoy a few glasses of – and two glasses was more than enough, as I was ready to move on after the bottle. I found it – along with two of the other Game of Thrones efforts – at my local beer store for $12, which is pretty reasonable. It got an average score of 3.83 on BeerAdvocate and I think that’s just a little low, as I would give this beer a 7.4 out of 10. Now I need to get my hands on the other Game of Thrones beers, before they’re gone.
Stay tuned for next week, because I might just try something from your favorite brewery.