Review Date 8/21/2004
Sometimes, life is just too funny. Last night I was
popping open a bottle of Brewery Ommegang’s wonderful Three Philosophers
Belgian Style Blend Ale. I also wanted to watch a DVD, but wasn’t sure
which one. Absent mindedly, I popped a Three Stooges disk into the
player and started to watch. Hey, there’s nothing like watching Shemp when
you’ve got a buzz on, after all.
Anyway, as I watched the zany antics of those crazy stooges and sipped my delightful ale, the irony of the situation dawned on me. The Three Stooges are about as far as you can get from three philosophers, though they certainly were very wise in the ways of comedy. And they did have their own beer for a time, and perhaps still do. You can read about it here if you so desire.
But back to the Three Philosophers. This wonderful brew is made in the beautiful Ommegang Brewery in Cooperstown, New York. If you ever get the chance to visit, please do so. It’s like a little slice of Belgium dropped into the heart of upstate New York. Since Three Philosophers a blended beer, it’s a bit different from your average brew. Three Philosophers is a result of blending an Ommegang-produced quadruple (a very strong ale) with Lindemans Kriek, an honest to goodness Belgian ale made with cherries. Here’s what Ommegang says about the beer:
A deep burgundian brew bursting with sweet malt and dark cherry. The perfect marriage of flavor is achieved by blending Lindemans Kriek, a delicious cherry lambic from Belgium, with our rich Belgian-style ale. Crafted with wisdom and patience, this brew will help you unlock the secrets of the universe.
Blending beers is fairly common in Belgium. It’s often done with lambics to make beers like Gueze, a blend of young and aged beer. Usually, the results are interesting, and that is certainly the case here. I was impressed with the way the flavors melded together so nicely, none of them overpowering at all, yet each sublime in its gentle complexity.
Three Philosophers is sold in 750ml corked bottles for about $5. That’s a wonderful bargain for a beer of this caliber. Each bottle will have the year it was produced labeled on the neck. Ommegang recommends you drink it young, but concedes that it will also age nicely, too.
There is yeast in the bottle, and you can pour gently so as not to rouse it if you like, leaving it at the bottom of the bottle. I prefer to pour it into my last half glass or so. It’s good for you, and I think it adds a nutty flavor to the brew. But the choice is yours.
They also advise you allow this beer to warm slightly to fully appreciate the flavors, and that is very sound advice. If you drink it too cold you will lose many of the subtle flavors present. I allowed mine to warm and poured into an Ommegang chalice glass that I bought at the brewery in Cooperstown when I was there some years ago. Cupping the wide-mouthed glass in your hands and lifting the rim to your nose allows the wonderful aromas to be fully appreciated.
Three Philosophers Belgian Style Blend pours to a dark reddish brown color with a thick creamy tan head formation and a sweet malt and cherry nose. The palate is immediately complex with light notes of toasted malt, caramel, sweet dark malt, cotton candy, brown sugar, licorice, and a decided Belgian yeastiness.
Underlying all of that is a gentle but ever-present note of sweet dark cherries. They add a delightful fruitiness to the brew, but are in no way cloying or overpowering. Then too, there is an appetizing creaminess as you take each sip as well that reminds the drinker of fresh fruit covered in cream.
In the finish, a definite note of alcohol warmth blends with a touch of licorice. At 9.8% alcohol by volume, Three Philosophers is a potent brew indeed, one over which one can easily ponder the mysteries of the universe. Or just nyuk it up a bit with a trio of stooges. Either way, Three Philosophers is a pure delight.
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.