As many of y’all are probably aware, the Meddlesome Moth does rare beer tappings every Wednesday at 5 pm. Half the people crowded in the bar knew that, and showed up for one specific reason: the special flight of three Ommegang brews ($16), poured in honor of Belgian Independence Day. The other half, including the extremely shouty foursome to my right, were chugging wine, thrilled to be out of the office. Hump day, am I right? At one point, Super-Loud White Guy wearing a pastel bowtie says, “You know, I told my last girlfriend that like, sometimes I wish I’d been born black or Hispanic. A week later, she broke up with me.”
Pretty sure that wasn’t the only reason. Probably didn’t even make the top five. But do these beers—Ommegang Gnomegang, Three Philosophers, and Art of Darkness—rate? Carol Shih and I taste-tested, discussed, ate zucchini chips (duh), and then had a quick chat with Ommegang’s Prescott Carter, who was making the rounds.
Gnomegang (9.5% ABV, not on Meddlesome’s regular menu, but available at The Common Table as part of their Belgian Beer Week flight until July 22).
Golden yellow in color, like straw, it’s a strong Belgian Ale made by Ommegang (which brews Belgian-style in Cooperstown, NY) and the Achouffe Brewery, which is actually in Belgium. (However, both are owned by Duvel.) The brewer’s notes said the beer contains “two different yeasts, five different malts, and two noble hops.” Nice tight carbonation, which I liked. Flavor wise, it takes you on a bit of roller coaster, from a strange sweetness to a really sort of sharp, strong finish (that’s where you can taste the yeast and that high ABV). It had a bit of pucker, too, and I liked it better as it warmed. I ended up drinking more of this than anything else, so I suppose that says something.
Three Philosophers (10% ABV, on tap at Holy Grail in Plano and Meddlesome)
Smells like cherries, and has a more consistent flavor profile overall than the Gnomegang. Though plenty of places around town have this beer more or less regularly, the Moth has had this particular one cellared since they opened in 2010. Very sweet, with all sorts of fruit and alcohol. I didn’t love this, mostly because of the overpowering cherry sweetness, but it’s tolerable as a sort slower-paced, winding-down beer.
Art of Darkness (8.9% ABV, special tapping)
Definitely dark in color, but not as thick as I was expecting. Thanks to champagne-like bubbles, it didn’t drink heavy. The taste was smooth, almost stout-like, and I was enjoying myself. Until I swallowed. And then everything came screeching to a halt, because the aftertaste smacked strongly of tar. Or burned wood. Prescott from the brewery came around and explain that there was some oak in there, but honestly, it tasted like somebody lit the forest on fire.
Still, though, this was a lot of fun. Trading beers, talking, eavesdropping—I love all of these things. If you decide to hit the Moth for a special tapping in the future, I recommend getting there early. Not really because they might sell out, though there is always that concern, but because those seats Carol and I snagged at the bar around 5:20 became prime real estate around 6 pm.
Other places to find Ommegang this weekend include The Common Table, where they’re tapping Ommegang Belgian Independence Day Tripel tonight, and Hennepin, Rare Vos, and Gnomegang are available until at least July 22 as part of their BBW choose-your-own flight.