Brewery Ommegang Three Philosophers

May 18, 2011

Philosophy: a word from the Greek language like so many others combining two originally separate root words; “philo” meaning loving and “sophy” from “Sophia” meaning skill or wisdom. In modern application the suffix refers to “the science of.” In the intervening millennia since ancient Greeks, Chinese and Arabs first sat around and considered the inner workings of the world around them, the word has come to assume much more than its rather simple root meanings.

Sports coaches and players will talk about their team’s philosophy when giving interviews – about what they did to prepare for the game and how they gave the ubiquitous 110%. Okay… that sounds more like practice and strategy but I can see their intentions. They’re referring to a collective mindset based upon analysis of information by studying their opponents. Not quite as romantic a notion as, say, Socrates in his toga lecturing to his students in a marble amphitheater.

Businesses speak of their company philosophy hand in hand with their mission statement. Again, the romance has been removed from the original intent and replaced with something concrete and rigid. It just doesn’t feel right. It is no longer about trying to figure out one’s place in the world or understanding the intricacies of nature. Instead, most apply philosophy as a means to a winning end. If that’s the wiser path, maybe Socrates wouldn’t have drank the hemlock.

Is there a way to combine the older romance of philosophy with the stolid business philosophy of today? Absolutely. The art of brewing beer for the public is that in the proverbial nutshell. You need to sell the beer to keep the company open but you also have to understand your clientele. Good brewers are flexible, thoughtful and careful when it comes to making their beer. It’s a love affair both with the ingredients and with how the public comes to enjoy the finished product. Consider what Brewery Ommegang from Cooperstown, NY has done with one of their amazing Belgian-style ales.

Three Philosophers is dark ruby-colored quadruple ale blended with cherry lambic ale from Lindeman’s. Not many brewers blend two separate beers to make a new one but they understand how the rich malt nuttiness and sweetness benefits from the slightly sour cherry. A complex combination of scents come out of the beer showing off dried fruits, dark chocolate cake, vanilla, bourbon and a hint of banana from the Belgian yeast. The flavors are just as layered and nuanced: cherry, molasses, pear, brown sugar and chocolate. It’s a sipper at 9.8% abv and will definitely warm you up from the inside.

Three Philosophers gives the drinker plenty to ruminate upon. The conclusion I come to is this beer is one of the answers to why I love beer.