Valar Morghulis (Brewery Ommegang)

Style: American Dubbel

8.0% ABV

Malt: Our carefully crafted mixture of specialty malts.

Sugar: Dark Candi

Hops: Apollo, Hallertau Spalt

From: Cooperstown, NY

Brewery’s Note: “In the world of Westeros, Valar Morghulis means “all men must die.” Fans of the hit HBO show chose the foreboding phrase as the name of the newest beer in the Game of Thrones® collaboration between HBO and Brewery Ommegang. As part of a Facebook poll, fan voting determined the style and name of the next beer. An Abbey Dubbel was selected and it is perfectly represented by the “two- headed” coin given to Arya Stark by Jaqen H’ghar, one of the “Faceless Men of Braavos” – legendary assassins with the ability to change their appearances at will./ Valar Morghulis possesses a deep chestnut brown color with a persistent and creamy tan head. Rich aromas of caramel, toffee, ripe fruits and burnt sugar, with a hint of cloves. The taste is delicately balanced with rich malty sweetness, caramel and just enough bitterness to balance out its malty backbone. A surprisingly dry finish is light on the tongue, which belies the initial aroma.”

The cork says “Valar Dohaeris”© which the aSoIaF nerd in me appreciates [Copy right added to appease the HBO gods of lawsuit, who are clearly reading this blog]

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The beer pours a dark, ruby-brown, and a fat, creamy head of sand-colored bubbles forms a two-finger’s widths of head above the glass, with a nice retention. When the bubbles do leave, a middling sized spatterwork of lacing paints the glass and slowly slips away. In body, the beer is crystal clear and clean of particles, yet still dark enough to be opaque without a light source behind it. On the nose, the beer smells of spicy peppers, subtle cinnamon, cloves, slight brown sugar, bread crusts, blood, and raisins. The beer is distinctly Ommegang’s, with its ester and phenol profile. On the tongue, the beer tastes sweet and spicy, with a sticky acidity on the finish, and a lingering syrupy sweetness. Towards the beginning of the sip there is a sting of booze, and the ghost of the booze haunts the rest of the sip, but never really rears its head again. In flavor, the beer tastes initially of fierce, spicy phenols. These, thankfully, mellow into a peppery character that blends with light brown sugar, raisin, and slight ferrous sulfide (metallic) flavors. Banana esters enter towards the close, and lounge near circus peanut levels, but never fully commit, while bread crust thicker raisin, and even plum and pear characters close out the finish. As there beer warms, there is a building sense of a flavor, which I can’t place, but which seems vaguely like wet drains, which has me thinking mercaptan, but I may just be being way too pretentious…The aftertaste is thick on the tongue with soft pennies, generic spice, pear, and dark plum. In the mouth, the beer feels medium+ bodied, with a slick, ever-so-slightly chewy mouthfeel, and a snappy carbonation that keeps the sweeter parts of the beer from really weighing down the tongue. Still, this is a slower sipping beer, as once it leaves, the tongue is left coated in sticky grime, and slightly astringent, while saliva pools across its top. Overall, this is a middle of the road dubbel. All men must die, but not all men must try this beer. It’s has nice character, and should do a good job of welcoming new drinkers into the dubbel-style (i.e. fans of the show that are not as familiar with beer). The ferrous sulfide is a little too much, though, even for the style, and I am fairly sure there are other off flavors, though I am not gifted enough to point them out. It does not fully impede my enjoyment, but it could have been better managed. Ommegang did make a decent dubbel here, but I can’t help but feel underwhelmed by it. Also, GRRM mentions sour red ales in the books! They should make a sour red ale for the series! Just sayin’.

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