Brew Review

Beer Review – Ommegang Rosetta

Brewery Ommegang Rosetta

There is absolutely nothing wrong with saying, “I don’t know”. In a world filled with “experts”, I find it refreshing when someone is honest enough to know the limits of their knowledge or skill set. “I don’t know” was the subject of a 2014 Freakonomics podcast titled “The Three Hardest Words in the English Language”. Here’s what Stephen Levitt, University of Chicago economist and co-author of Freakonomics, has to say about those three small, yet extremely powerful, words:

So we wrote Freakonomics, and because it was deemed a business book and we sold a lot of copies, that made us business experts. And since we wrote that book I’ve been asked a ton to go talk to companies and give them advice. And what’s amazing to me is I could count on one hand the number of occasions in which someone in a company, in front of their boss, on a question that they might possibly have ever been expected to know the answer, has said “I don’t know.” Within the business world, there’s a general view that your job is to be an expert. And no matter how much you have to fake or how much you are making it up that you just should give an answer and hope for the best afterwards. And I have seen it teaching the business school students, that they are incredibly good — the MBAs — at faking like they know the answer when they have no idea.

When it came time for Ommegang Brewmaster Phil Leinhart to brew a sour fruit beer, he quickly realized that he didn’t have the capabilities to make it at his Cooperstown, NY brewing facility. For Mr. Leinhart, this was more of a “we can’t do it here” than an “I don’t know” situation since he knew what he wanted to do, but simply lacked the components to make it happen in Cooperstown. Rather than giving up on his idea, Mr. Leinhart called upon his friends at Belgium’s Liefmans for their expertise in brewing this type of beer. Here’s a bit more of the Rosetta origin story taken directly from Brewery Ommegang’s blog:

Leinhart’s recipe calls for a perfectly balanced blend of old (aged on cherries at least three years) and young Flemish brown ale (or oud bruin) with a lively and fruity kriek, or cherry beer. The result is a complex yet refreshing mahogany-brown brew that is an intriguing interplay of tartness and sweetness. Its elegance and depth would make Madame Rosa Merckx proud – Liefmans’ former Brewmaster and the first Belgian woman with that title in whose honor the beer is named.

“I wanted a sour fruit beer that invites you to have another,” said Leinhart, Ommegang’s Brewmaster since 2008. “So many of the ones I find today are either so tart or so fruity, that I think beer lovers struggle to have more than one. Balance and the right blend was the key for me, and I really believe we hit the sweet spot, so to speak.  I am looking forward to hearing back from drinkers on what they think and if the response is favorable, consider bringing this beer in draft next year as well.”

An easy drinking sour beer that begs for you to have more than one in a sitting? This sounds like something that I would really enjoy. Let’s find out if Rosetta is any good…

  • Appearance: While it looks like a dark walnut brown, holding it up to the light reveals that this beer is actually a very dark, ruby red. It’s highly effervescent when you pour it into your glass, i.e. it has that Alka-Seltzer plop-plop, fizz-fizz thing going on. A tan head forms immediately, tops off at about 1/4 inch, and then fades rapidly.
  • Aroma: The nose is all tart and fruity with an almost barrel aged, Balsamic vinegar like quality. You can definitely smell the tart cherries that went into making this.
  • Taste: Very soft carbonation that gives this a very velvety mouthfeel. Not nearly as tart as I was expecting. The cherry flavors in this are very lush. It reminds me of eating a really good Cherry Pie that perfectly balances its tart and sweet qualities. Lightly tart cherry flavors linger in the aftertaste with a Luden’s cherry cough drop like flavor.
  • ABV: 5.4%

I thought for sure that Ommegang’s Rosetta was going to be really sour, but as I said in my tasting notes up above, it really wasn’t. This beer is very much like a Duchesse De Bourgogne which I find to be infinitely drinkable (as opposed to a Cuvee Des Jacobins Flemish Sour which is really good, but soooooo sour and mouth puckering). Rosetta is a mellow, easy drinking fruit beer that I would definitely buy again.

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