I Just Drank That: The Gnomegang
Gnomes and baseball’s greats combining forces to make some type of Voltron-super beer? Does it sound a bit fantastical? Well, what else would you expect when you get your hands dirty with Gnomes. Take a back seat Keebler, there is a new flock of wee men joining the party and they’re bringin’ lots more than cookies. Here comes the Gnomegang (kind of sounds like something that would fight Mothra in the foothills of Japan doesn’t it?).
A joint effort between Cooperstown’s Belgo-American Ommegang Brewery (Hennepin, Rare Vos, 3 Philosophers), and the Belgian Achouffe’s Brasserie D’Achouffe (La Chouffe, Chouffe Houblon, N’ice Chouffe), the Gnomegang is a doooozy. Billed as strong Belgian Golden Ale, this little number is the combination of mutual brewing efforts and materials from each signature farmstead. Both Ommegang and Chouffe yeasts are used allowing each farmstead to really place their own signature within the beer. Traditionally in most Belgian brewing houses, a yeast strain is the identifying mark, the “John Hancock” so to speak, of the brewery itself. It helps to define every beer they make, and is the strongest point of individualism to each brewery. So what happens when you have Baseball Belgians sharing their secrets and Gnomes spilling their beans to join forces? No, not The Warriors revivalist gangs, a fine beer, that's what.
As the ale escapes the bottle and waterfalls down into my glass, the color is absolutely phenomenal; a dark, rich, amber-orange embraces the light and offers a glimpse at what a sunset on these farmsteads might resemble. A loosely packed head of competing bubbles rise to the surface, leaving a thin banana film along the sides as it retreats.
The second the esters (aromas) begin to hit your nose—LET’S DO THE TIMEWARP AGAIN! Now this is might be generation specific, but anyone may still attempt it in present day. Remember opening your hockey puck container of BubbleTape; that delicious powder coating your fingers as you challenged nature eating larger, and larger, strips of gum? Gnomegang will give you that feeling right back, and, get you real drunk if you’re not careful. Clove and tangerine back up and cut that bubblegum sweetness with soft hop aromas, bringing the whole baseball diamond into view, BubbleTape in mouth and citrus groves all around perfuming the air. A pineapple backbone with an effervescent backing coat the initial mouth feel, leaving way to mild Meyer Lemon sweetness and balanced spice. The finish is long and drying as you really get your first major foretaste of the hops. With such whimsical properties, these sons of bitches do a wonderful job masking the 9.5% ABV that it’s packing.
While tag-team brewing can sometimes end in mediocre or one-sided results, Ommegang and Chouffe’s efforts really came together in a real church choir harmony. I do have to admit, I was definitely skeptical of what this ale would offer. I’m not a huge fan of Ommegang in the first place, often times finding their beers a bit heavy handed, and forced in stylings, but occasionally showing an offering here or there that is quality and sound, i.e. Hennepin. I wasn’t quite sure if they would be able to deliver their part of the bargain in this dance between nations, but much to my surprise they did-I can admit when I’m wrong, I’m no child! Both breweries can be found within these bottles, each one’s style showcased yet complimenting the other. Bravo gentlemen, I suddenly feel the need to purchase some lawn gnomes and get wasted with them