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The Ninth Beer of Christmas: Three Philosophers

Reading Time: 3 minutes read

Today, we’re enjoying an unusual selection, a Belgian style Quadrupel ale. According to BeerAdvocate, Quads are generally bolder and stronger than Dubbels or Trippels, and often dark, “rang[ing] within the deep red, brown and garnet hues.” There are a few commercial examples, but it doesn’t seem to be as common of a style as its lighter cousins. Brewery Ommegang’s version is particularly unusual; it’s blended with Liefmans Kriek, a Belgian cherry ale. This potent—9.7% ABV—Quad hails from Cooperstown, NY, which quaint lakeside village was founded by James Fenimore Cooper’s father.† It seems odd to me that the guy who wrote The Last of the Mohicans grew up in Upstate New York, but I guess there was still such a thing as the American frontier back then. Anyhow, Ommegang’s contemplative beer apparently started out as an essay contest entry from a home brewer in Portland, OR. A Men’s Journal article on highly alcoholic beers explained that Realbeer contracted Ommegang to make the dude’s dream beer, and Three Philosophers was the result. So yay, beer essays. And yay, home brewers.

Oh, yes. Tasting notes. Let’s get to it, then.

3 Philosophers

Pour/appearance: (Ben) Pours a translucent sapele with a medium-lasting two finger honey colored head into an Ommegang glass. The bottle is a “special edition” from 07/08/14.

(Meagan) Pours with a thick, cream colored head that subsides to a long-lasting ring. In a crystal glass, the lacing is like sea foam left behind after a wave recedes from the shore. Sitting on the table, the beer appears to be a clear, deep amber-brown; held up to the window, it’s almost ruby, like the Stash Ruby Mist tea my mom likes to drink, but beer-ier. On the Ommegang websit, “Brewmaster Phil’s Tasting Notes” describe the color as “cherry chestnut.” I’d say that’s about right.

Nose: (Ben) Nose is dark and tart. The head has a different aroma than the liquor; a bit lighter and sweeter.

(Meagan) Has that distinctive Belgian yeast smell, accompanied by sweet notes of malt, and cherry from the kriek. As it warms in the glass, the cherry aroma becomes more noticeable.

Taste: (Ben) The flavor has notes of leather, candela tobacco and tart cherries. It sweetens as it warms; it was cellared at 45f, but as it approaches its current isothermic temperature, I can really taste more malt. Dark malt, with some biscuit bits and just a bare hint of hops.

Some bottles of 3 philosophers that I’ve had are sweeter than this one; that doesn’t make this less tasty. That high alcohol content makes you take following sips slowly. I taste more brettanomyces in this bottle than the last one; but brett is an interesting creature and unpredictable.

(Meagan) Hint of dark, sweet malt in a mouthful of bubbles. I’m really struggling to describe the complex flavor, so I’ll mostly go with Ben’s notes. To me, he mentioned green apple skin and green peppercorn hints. The beer leaves a spicy finish at the tip and middle of my tongue.

Body: (Ben) Medium. The mouth feel is a tart, mouth-coating feeling, independent of the body.

(Meagan) Medium body, with champagne-like effervescence.

Overall: (Ben) I really enjoyed this one, especially since it is different than the previous bottle (2013) of 3 that I’ve had.

Buy it: Yeah, totally. Although I’ve seen magnums of this go for 10.99-35.99, so location may be a thing. At AJ’s you can get it at a great price.

Brew it: Ahh, maybe not. It’s blended from some base beer and kriek, so super complicated. I don’t do fruit beers often.


Brewery Ommegang— Everything for a Reason: Three Philosophers.” Ommegang — Brewer of Belgian-Style Beers in America. Brewery Ommegang.

†McCullough, David G. The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011. 70. Print.

Quadrupel (Quad).” BeerAdvocate.

The Most Alcoholic Beers (You Can Actually Buy): Ommegang Three Philosophers” Men’s Journal.

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Pacific Northwest native, travel and craft beverage writer. Exploring the intersections where beer (and coffee and spirits), food, travel and culture meet.

One Comment

  1. Doug breen Doug breen September 5, 2015

    Enjoying the articles

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