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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Tuesday Review: Ommegang Art of Darkness

Brewery Ommegang Art of Darkness
By Doug Dorda

As the winter marches calmly on, we find ourselves often in the embrace of a feeling of stagnation. Though the days slowly get longer, it does seem as though mother nature will not yield her cling to her earthly plot, and regardless of a groundhog's prediction, the winter shall endure until she sees fit to let the levee, of spring, break.

For we, the enthusiasts of craft beer, it is the cold and crisp months that drive us into the loving embrace of porters, stouts, and all other divination of dark ale or lager that helps our wearied souls balk at the night's bitter chill. Yet, how often have we turned toward the darkness as respite from the cold? Does the stagnation of nature help to lead to a stagnation of our choice in nightcap? (Though I doubt that to be the case, it can not be ignored that long winters can exhaust the lust for bold beers.)

Enter Art of Darkness from Brewery Ommegang, a late-to-the-table offering for us Michiganders that seeks to provide the dark side in us all with a welcome touch of light. Though the ale is of wintery high-gravity standard, it surprised me beyond belief due to its apparent dry finish, a most interesting twist in the land of bombastic ales.

The nose is a mixture of heartily spiced breads: gingerbread or molasses. A fleeting note of alcohol mixes with a promise of non-descript fruit that positively begs the quaffer to drink. An immediate explosion of licorice, anise and coriander dominates the palate in an effect that is as pleasant as it is unexpected. Slowly emerging from the intricate sea of massive flavors is a pronounced note of dried figs as well as a melange of other dried fruit that provides the perfect counterpoint to the assault on the fore palate. The experience ends almost abruptly as the intense levels of carbonation within the ale clean the palate and leave you dying for another sip to remember the haunting and flickering flavors that were so vivid only moments before.

This is a beer that boldly stands alongside others of its ilk. Yet it remains unique, worthy of a spot on your table in the winter or, truly, any season. It is the opinion of this author that this beer would pair wonderfully with a savory roast, hearty stew, or a lovingly prepared desert. I found this beer a lively injection of variant to the otherwise “go to” ales of winter. I believe that should you try it, you may come to the same conclusion.

Brewery Ommegang Art of Darkness ($18.59/750ml) is a Belgian Strong Ale.

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