Winter Is Here | Brewery Ommegang
From a 750ml bottle (corked and caged) served almost straight from the fridge at 9 degrees Celsius into a TeKu glass. Best before date 08/30/2019. This was brewed last year before the first snowfall so 9-ish months in the bottle is where I'd ballpark it. The label reads “winter is here” just when summer has arrived. It's 30+ degrees Celsius outside. I picked up the bottle from the LCBO recently – last week I think?. I'm sure this is part of a gift pack that was out for some time back but it didn't sell for the relatively high price point. The LCBO probably split these packs into separate bottles in order to get rid of them. Speculation, yes, but coming from the LCBO, it would not surprise me one bit. My expectations are about average since these GoT beers have been a hit and miss. However, I do enjoy Ommegang's regular offerings.
The beer pours a brilliant pale gold with 6cm of dense, white head that dissipates into a thick cap within 4+ minutes. Good lacing with great retention. Effervescent. To be clear, this beer should not pour with brilliant clarity. All those months spent on the shelf had gravity pulling the particles down to the bottom of the bottle which are now being roused delivering any additional pours with more and more haze.
Medium-light and balanced. A pleasant mix of fruit, grain, spice, and alcohol. Fruity notes are quite tropical with hints of citrus where banana seems to come through the most followed up by faint notes of sweet orange. The malts are grainy-wheaty with a crackery, white bread character. Prominent enough noble hops with notes of spice and earth also contribute to the aroma by creating a lovely balance. Additional notes include cloves and bubblegum. All of this is rounded up with faint notes of ethanol that transforms the fruitiness and amps up the spice. The dry nose is grainy-sweet with mild honey notes. What initially seemed quite simple, turns out to be one heck of a nose.
Follows the aroma with moderate strength, good balance, and low perceived bitterness. The palate opens up sweet-ish with grainy-wheaty malt and fruity notes of banana and orange. Mid-palate brings in hops and alcohol where the ethanol compliments the flavour by cutting some of the sweetness and making space for the spicy-earthy hop-character to come through. As we approach the aftertaste, some notes of cloves, white pepper, and coriander manage to squeeze in. The medium length finish is balanced and of moderate strength with notes of fruit, peppery spice, and grainy malt. Excellent.
Medium-full body with lively carbonation. Creamy, smooth, and slightly round with a restrained alcohol warming of light strength. No astringency or harshness of any kind.
Ommegang's Winter is Here is an excellent ale with great balance and flavour. Steering slightly off from the guidelines, this is an enjoyable winter witbier with tons of complexity where all the components make themselves known. What makes it different is the strength and additional-non-traditional notes you can discover. Give it a shot if you can find it!