Fans of both beer and Game of Thrones, rejoice, because Ommegang Brewery from Copperstown, N.Y. has started putting out Westeros-inspired drinks. The first Game of Thrones-themed beer, Take The Throne Blonde Ale, first emerged in March 2013; however, since it was only limited edition, it quickly disappeared off of shelves. But thankfully, a new brew has recently emerged: Take the Black Stout, and I was lucky enough to snag a bottle.
What first attracted me to it was the bottle itself. Ommegang really knows how to make a beer look awesome. The bottle is a 26-ounce bomber, large enough to be shared by two or three people. Its wrapping is dark and gloomy, the label displaying a Weirwood tree with a disturbing, wooden face that watches as you consume this malty treat. On the other end of the gloomy glass giant, I found the contents of the brew: star anise, licorice root, chocolate malt and roasted barley. Take the Black has an APV of 7 percent which is normal for a typical stout. Truthfully, if I was Jon Snow, I would have broken the oath just to enjoy this beer.
Even though stouts should really be drunk in snifter glasses, I used a wine glass to substitute for my lack of proper glassware. When I uncorked the bottle, I could already smell the licorice creeping out like one of Melisandre’s shadows. When I poured it into the glass, it was a pitch black color, with a dense, tan head about two to three fingers wide. The head was foamy and didn’t really settle, but it didn’t mess with the flavor at all. In fact, the malty scent was quite welcoming.
The malt combined with chocolate and licorice made a smell that was just heavenly. When I finally took my first sip, it was very smooth going down. I honestly was just expecting a taste similar to Guinness because I figured that people were just going after the novelty of the bottle itself, but it turned out that the taste was like a trial of combat on its own — a constant onslaught of flavors that could lay siege to King’s Landing. It started with a very earthy taste, with a hint of some dark fruit like prunes or raisins. The follow-through was more traditional of a stout: the dark chocolate flavor, coffee, and a distinct smokiness. However, I really wasn’t able to smell or taste the star anise at all, so I forgot that was even part of the brew. After all of these really different flavors, I was then hit in the face with bitterness, as if I needed further proof that this truly was a stout. It was honestly a little overwhelming, but didn’t take away from the enjoyable experience from the rest of the brew.
I feel that if this beer was present at the Tully-Frey wedding, that wedding would have been a little less red and little more black and tan. This beer was a very splendid stout to drink — even if the aftertaste had my face clenching up. If you happen to miss out on this limited edition brew, don’t worry, because Ommegang plans to pop out more beers than Robert Baratheon does children, hoping to have at least three to five new Game of Thrones themed beers out by next year. Is it wrong that I’m praying for a Red Wedding Red Ale?