Liquid Diet: Ommegang Fire & Blood Red Ale
It’s been almost a year since The Red Wedding and the chilling last notes of “The Rains of Castamere,” but Season Four of Game of Thrones looms on the horizon (April 6). To harken in the next installment of George R.R. Martin’s bloody epic, Ommegang is releasing its third beer in their Game of Thrones-inspired series on March 31.
For the Fire and Blood Red Ale, inspired by House Targaryen, brewmaster Phil Leinhart used pilsner, spelt, rye, and other specialty malts. The Belgian red ale is then hopped with Styrian Golding and German Tettnang hops and spiced with de-seeded ancho chilies.
“We went through several test brews trying to get the right level of heat,” says Leinhart. “The ancho chilies aren’t that hot, actually. They have more of a raisin-y, prune-like character to them. We were going for a little bit of heat, but like all the spicing we do, it’s very subtle. We don’t like to hit people over the head. It’s all about making a well-balanced beer and I think we achieved that.”
Leinhart says he chose rye to give the beer some spice and added complexity, while spelt was incorporated for its old world associations. “Once again, we really worked hard to ensure the beer tied nicely into the themes of the show,” says Leinhart. “Obviously the use of ancho chilies pays homage to the dragons, but the use of rye and spelt wheat links back to the Dothraki people that Daenerys is leading – they are nomads of the plains and these are the grains that would be well at home there.”
Iron Throne Blonde Ale, the debut beer in the HBO/Brewery Ommegang collaboration, flew off retail shelves and Leinhart and his team were forced to implement two additional production runs. “We didn’t know how these beers were going to be received, so we only did 26 brews (a little over 1,000 barrels) for the initial volume,” says Leinhart. “That just evaporated! For Take the Black Stout and this one (Fire and Blood Red Ale), we tripled that amount. For a limited-release beer, we usually do a quarter of that. That’s really big.”
Unlike the previous two releases, Fire And Blood will have three different collectible labels, one for each of the dragons on the show: Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion. Ommegang describes the beer as having aromas of ripe fruit, raisins, and a slight floral, spicy hop character.
“We have some real Game of Thrones scholars here at the brewery,” says Leinhart. “They’re really so knowledgeable about the show and they’ve read all the books. When the deal was first announced, I was like, ‘Game of what?’ I’ve since become a big fan. It’s one of the things we all do here when we’re not brewing beer.”
The only downside to the partnership? Spoiler alerts. “To prepare for each new beer, HBO discusses with us upcoming scenes and storylines,” says Leinhart. “They come in with major plot-lines, then suggest the overall concept, which is a downer because we learn what happens before we even get to watch the new episodes.”
Here are just a few retail locations that will be carrying Ommegang’s Fire and Blood Red Ale on Monday, March 31:
Craft Beer Cellar Belmont, 51 Leonard St., Belmont, info: 617-932-1885, craftbeercellar.com/belmont/ .
Craft Beer Cellar Newton, 1243 Centre St., Newton, info: 617-916-0244, craftbeercellar.com/newton/.
Downtown Wine & Spirits, 225 Elm St., Somerville, info: 617-625-7777, downtownwineandspirits.com.
Julio’s Liquors, 140 Turnpike Rd., Westborough, info: 508-366-1942, juliosliquors.com.
Blanchard’s Wine & Spirits, 741 Center St., Jamaica Plain, info: 617-522-9300, blanchardsliquor.com.
Ball Square Fine Wines, 716 Broadway, Somerville, info: 617-623-9500, ballsquarefinewines.com.