It’s time I got with the season, so this review will be of a dark winter ale, Ommegang Adoration. This beer is classified as a Belgian strong dark beer, and ranks #21 in style at Beeradvocate.com. With significant snow projected tonight, this is an apt beer to be consuming.
Pinpointing exactly what a “winter ale” style is proves to be challenging, and the answer was somewhat difficult to locate. The “winter warmer” has English roots, where traditionally this beer was a fairly high ABV beer with strong spice flavor and not so much hops. Winter ales tend to be darker in color, and can range from reddish brown to
black. Nowadays, there are many beers, Ommegang Adoration included, that contain quite a vast amount of spice. Winter warmers are usually very malty, although modern variations may contain hops.
Something very cool I learned during my research is that the winter ale style of beer is derived from a “wassail” tradition in medieval England. “Wassail” is derived from the Norse phrase”ves heil” that means “be you healthy”. Traditionally, a mulled cider was drank as a ritual to ensure a good harvest the following year. Brewers would not use hops in these drinks, but instead use other spices to complement their beer: sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.
Ommegang Adoration is a potent winter ale, weighing in at 10%. Drink a couple of these and you will certainly feel a little warmer. The beer poured a deep reddish brown with a nice foamy thick head that took a while to recede. The malt and spice smells can be detected quite readily on the nose; predominantly coriander and orange. I also detected some alcohol smell as well. Upon taste there is very little hops, but the signature Belgian flavor characteristic of many Ommegang offerings certainly comes through. The beer has as a strong caramel sweetness and an alcohol strength that lingers up into the nose and after swallowing.
A picture of my Ommegang Adoration is seen below.
Ironically, this beer is ranked on Beeradvocate under “Belgian Strong Dark Ale” instead of “Winter Warmer”. I think in fact this beer does a fine job at occupying both of those styles. If you are fan of a high alcohol dark beer with Belgian character, this is the one. I think right now some “wassailing” should be done to help us get past
this cold winter spell we are currently experiencing in Buffalo. As I am about to finish wassailing my first beer, I can attest that Ommegang Adoration is indeed a winter warmer! Ves heil!