While I’ve had many fine Belgian styles from U.S. breweries, few are able to authentically recreate the magical beers of Belgium, which benefit from centuries of brewers developing the brewing techniques, special yeasts, barrel aging, bottle conditioning and blending that make them so special.
They are generally light-bodied yet strong ales, traditionally made in the days before refrigeration to be thirst quenchers for the warm summer months, but needing a higher alcohol content in order to be stored for long periods without spoiling.
D’Hougoumont is named after a farmstead near Waterloo, Belgium, the site where Napoleon met his you know what, defeated by Britain’s Duke of Wellington.
The description on the label of the 7.3% ABV was enough to convince me to try a bottle: “brewed with French ale yeast, eight malts, French Strisselspalt hops and aged on wood.” In particular, maple and oak staves.
There are three main areas that make D’Hougoumont as good as any farmhouse ale I’ve had from France or Belgium: a strong bready, light pale malt presence, lemony, grassy hops and a semi-dry character that does not descend into pucker territory. These are where most American brewers fall short when attempting farmhouse ales — they either use inappropriate hops, make a too-dry, sourish beer or have no real malt taste to speak of.
Ommegang also doesn’t skimp on the details with D’Hougoumont, which has pear-apple fruit notes, a rocky head, delicate lacing, slight earthiness and noticeable — but not overbearing or hot — alcohol presence. It’s a superb beer.
Many beers are available only regionally. Check the brewer’s website, which often contains information on product availability. Contact Todd Haefer at firstname.lastname@example.org. To read previous Beer Man columns Click here.
- ^ http://www.ommegang.com/ (www.ommegang.com)
- ^ Ommegang (www.ommegang.com)
- ^ Hennepin (www.ommegang.com)
- ^ Witte (www.ommegang.com)
- ^ Three Philosophers (www.ommegang.com)
- ^ Rare Vos (www.ommegang.com)
- ^ Abbey Ale (www.ommegang.com)
- ^ Duvel (www.duvel.be)
- ^ Biere D’Hougoumont (www.ommegang.com)
- ^ http://www.ommegang.com/#!locator (www.ommegang.com)
- ^ http://www.postcrescent.com/section/APC0402/APC-Beer-Man (www.postcrescent.com)