From the beer’s description on Ommegang’s Web site:
Winter is Here is brewed with pilsner malt, white wheat malt, and soft red wheat flakes, hopped with Saaz hops, and spiced with white pepper, sea salt, coriander and sweet orange peel. Brewery Ommegang’s house yeast is used in primary and secondary fermentation. This double white ale pours a hazy pale straw color with a stark white head. Aromas of banana, clove, and pronounced peppery phenols lead, and the flavor is slightly sweet malt, subtly balanced by hints of sea salt. Despite a full mouthfeel and healthy ABV, it still manages to drink quite lightly. The finish gradually builds in a warming crescendo of peppery spice
I’ve been trying to “spread the love” and not cover the same breweries in my reviews and Draught Diversions. Sure I’ve posted a Tuesday Beer Review for breweries I’ve visited, but I’ve tried not to repeat myself and I’m aiming to continue that trend through the end of the year. I think I’m still getting away on a technicality here with this review since I haven’t truly reviewed a beer from Brewery Ommegang yet. Since I’ve done a review/overview of all the Game of Thrones beers from Brewery Ommegang, I almost have to review the newest in the series, right?
Wheat based beers are high up on my list of favorites and Witbiers are the Belgian take on the style. As loyal readers of this blog may recall, the first beer review here at the Tap Takeover was of a Witbier. Ommegang’s primary output is Belgian influenced styles so a Witbier is a natural fit for them. I’ve enjoyed their Witte Wheat in the past so I was especially looking forward to this latest installment of the Game of Thrones series. In the latest Game of Thrones offering, Ommegang has really hit it out of the park, so to speak. Billed as a “Double White Ale” this beer is everything you’d expect from a finely crafted Witbier and more.
It pours a little thicker than I’ve come to expect from Witbiers, but the aroma is spot on. The one thing that stands out on appearance for me is the extremely fluffy head. Regardless of how I tilted the glass or patiently I tried to refill from the 750ml bottle, the head was quite large. The beer looks very inviting once the pint glass has the full head on, but it is thicker than most Witbiers I’ve enjoyed.
The spices and clove are up front, as one expects from a Witbier. Excellent so far. I got a little more banana hints than orange/coriander compared to most other Witbiers I’ve had. This is by no means a slight on the beer. Rather, I like the slightly different profile for this one. It gives the beer a wonderful feel and taste of gravitas; this is far from your standard Witbier.
The other thing that stands out in this beer is the level of maltiness. Most wheat beers, especially the lower in alcohol Witbiers, aren’t nearly as malty as Winter is Here. Again, this is not a knock on the beer by any means. I think the higher alcohol (about twice that of a typical Witbier, this one is 8.3%, most Witbiers are between 4% and 5% ABV) accounts for the more pronounced malt.
The only thing that strikes me as a little odd is that I typically associate wheat beers, especially Witbiers, with warmer months. With higher a ABV, though that thought sort of evaporates. Also, since the glowering fellow on the label is the Night King, the head of the White Walkers, it makes sense to make a beer in homage to him and his followers as a White Beer, another name for Witbiers.
Of the nine Game of Thrones beers Ommegang has brewed and distributed, Winter is Here is my personal top two or three. This is a beer that is a delicious “leveled-up” version of a Witbier that really works to the strengths of Ommegang’s wonderful Belgian heritage and brewing styles.
Recommended, link to Untappd 4.25-star rating.
Keep Your Wits About You (Level 8)
Hazy and white like a winter storm, but best enjoyed on a warm sunny day. This specific style of wheat beer brings with it a subtle mix of spices and hops, giving it a distinct flavor with little bitterness.