Happy Friday everyone! We’re keeping this sleigh ride moving with another Christmas ale, this time from Ommegang. It’s their Adoration Dark Ale, brewed with coriander, cardamom, mace, Grains of Paradise and orange peel. I’ve never even heard of Grains of Paradise, but they certainly sound majestic. I’m not even saying anything witty about this one, let’s just get to it.
Popping the cap brings out a burst of potent bread and Grape-Nut malts, rich and heavy with a sweet brown sugar tang around the edges. Hints of spices swirl in around the malts, with the cardamom and coriander arriving first, and ending with a touch of nutmeggy mace. Mellow notes of plums and raisins show up at the end, mingling with the malts and adding a touch of dark sweetness. The aroma is thick and potent, filling the nose and clinging even after you’ve pulled the bottle away.
The flavors are just as strong, with the malts flowing over the tongue and creating a backbone of rich bread, sweet caramel, and potent Grape-Nuts. Spicy Belgian yeast arrives next, bringing slight hints of apples and bananas that settle over the malts and boost the sweetness a bit. The big spices from the aroma aren’t as potent on the tongue, but hints of nutmeg, cinnamon and cardamom pop out here and there, making each taste different from the previous. Each mouthful ends with potent flavors of raisins, bringing a bit of plum along for the ride. Finally, there’s a masked alcohol burn that trickles down your throat with each taste, bringing the winter warmth in a big way.
Poured out, the aromas burst up past the glass and fade away rather quickly. Before the fade, I was able to make out notes of Belgian spices, Grape-Nut malts, apples and raisins. After, the aroma calms into a warm bouquet of bread and caramel malts, a mild nuttiness that apparently may be coming from the Grains of Paradise, an a touch of an almost woody alcohol tang, like a sherry. The end of each breath is a refreshing kick of nutmeg, cinnamon and brown sugar, similar to Cinnamon Toast Crunch, which is awesome. Visually, it pours a darkened nut-brown, slightly cloudy, with a bubbly white head that fizzes away in a matter of seconds.
The post-pour flavors are mouth dominating. It’s not the most potent beer I’ve ever tasted, but every flavor shows up in full force, and the combined strength soon takes over every inch of your tongue. It starts out with a three-sided malt blitz, with Grape-Nuts, bread, and caramel malts converging at once and detonating pure malty richness in the center of your tongue. A few moments later, spicy notes of Belgian yeast arrive with hints of apples, bananas and spice drops raining down atop the malts. Buried deep under the malts, faint flavors of red licorice show up here and there, adding a sweet flash of bright fruit. Pinches of cinnamon and nutmeg add to the spice, while the same woodsy nuttiness from the aroma slides in on top along with mild notes of raisins. An alcohol burn arrives at the end, not as masked as it was in the bottle and bringing an even warmer burn that starts on the tongue and rumbles its way down the throat. The aftertaste is a spicy combination of rich malts, spices and a touch of dark fruit, all atop a tingle left by the alcohol strength.
Ommegang’s Adoration combines two of of my favorite things – winter and Belgian-style beer – to create a potent drinking experience of mouth-filling quality. Rich malts, strong spicing, sweet fruits and a noticeable alcohol oomph create a tasty burn that stays with you for a while. Because of that warmth, you’ll want to go slow with this one in order to savor the complexity and to save yourself from feeling too toasty, too fast. It’s a bit pricier than other winter crafts, but its flavor makes up for that.
Like most of these winter ales, I recommend this on a cold evening, warming in front of a fire. It would make a great sipping beer, perhaps as you watch the moonlight catch the snow flakes outside. Ommegang’s Adoration earns itself a mouth-tingling A.
Lasting Strength: 10/10
Overall: 9.5/10 A
Winter Warming Bonus: 10/10