This months’ feature beer is a beer we recently started offering in the Stone Arch Tap Room. It is our first imported beer which is a bit outside our box. It’s called Rosetta, a fruit ale that was aged on cherries. By style definition it is a traditional Belgian Kriek beer. Brewed in Belgium by Liefman’s Brewery for their sister brewery, Ommegang located in Cooperstown, New York. More about the breweries after we take a good look at the beer itself.
The label on this libation is very clean and basic. An image of three cherries pop out in the center of the label which is topped by the familiar Ommegang logo. With the use of green and the red from the cherries, it almost has a Christmas feel to it although it has nothing to do with the holiday.
What we really like about the content of the label is that they display the recommended serving temperature as well as the ideal glass from which to enjoy it. When tasting this brew, our team followed their recommendation in using a stemmed glass with a narrow mouth and wide body which holds most of the aromatics in until the very end.
It pours a bit fizzy from the higher carbonation level but isn’t so much so that it overflows the glass. The off-white head drops quickly to a thin layer that lasted for the whole experience. The appearance is inviting as the dark chestnut amber fluid flows. The nose is primarily sweet and sour cherry with some earthy malt tones sneaking in behind. A Belgian yeast note can be detected followed up by a slight caramel scent. The effervescent sourness hits your palate first with a cherry sweet finish that soon follows.
The Stone Arch Brew Team varied in the pungency of the cherries. Some said it was a bit overpowering, where others felt that is was a nice compliment. What was universal is the opinion that the sweet/tart aspect was very well balanced and quite pleasing. Although the alcohol by volume is only 5.6%, a slight alcohol note can be noticed as the sweetness fades away. Often fruit beers are too fruit forward with the beer flavor just an afterthought. That is not the case with this one, beer flavors still shine through the cherry layers. The finish is uncharacteristic for a Kriek in being a bit sweet. The sourness is predominately in the nose and initial taste and tends to lead the way for the sweetness to finish off, very clean and drinkable nonetheless.
When the brew team was asked for good pairings for this beer, we all jumped on the famous Stone Cellar Biergarten salad as a perfect fit. Most salads and lighter fare would also do well with the Rosetta especially with softer cheeses infused. Ice cream, cheesecakes and cherry chip cookies were also suggested as good pairings, but let it be noted; it’s a good stand-alone beer as well.
Now let’s get into the nuts and bolts of the breweries involved. Liefman’s Brewery made this Kriek style beer specifically for its sister brewery Ommegang. The name Rosetta is in honor of the first women Belgian Brewmaster…Madame Rosa Merckx who was a former Brewmaster with Liefman’s Brewery. What these skilled brewers did to make this beer was to add a perfect blend of a new Flemish Brown Ale to a Flemish Brown Ale that is “old” (oud bruin) and aged on cherries for at least three years. The resulting complexity can only be achieved by this very patient approach. Rosetta is available in 11.2 ounce brown bottles and can be purchased throughout Ommegang’s distribution territory of 44 states, Wisconsin being one of them.
Ommegang got their start in 1997 when two folks who owned Vanberg & Dewulf Beer Import Company teamed up with three family owned Belgian breweries that they developed strong relationships with through the years. Vanberg & Dewulf are self-proclaimed Belgian beer experts, and built their business motto on importing the very rich and unique beers Belgium has to offer. They combined their efforts by building a beautiful brewery based on a traditional Belgian Farmhouse. The land they chose for their venture was a 136-acre property that was once a hop farm and is located in the Susquehanna River Valley, four miles south of Cooperstown, New York.
The all-too-familiar consolidation phase hit Belgium strong and the three partnered Belgian breweries were absorbed by larger corporations. This prompted the Vanberg & Dewulf people to sell their shares of Ommegang in 2003 to the Belgian brewer Brouwerij Duvel Moortgat. Brouwerij Duvel Moortgat is best known for brewing Duvel Golden Ale which is a world-renowned Belgian beer. Ommegang has grown rapidly since their inception and in 2005 added the necessary equipment to increase their annual capacity by 40%. With so much property and a beautiful building, many events are hosted from ‘beer-cations’ to bike races to beer festivals. Ommegang Brewery should be a destination on all beer lovers bucket lists.
FINAL WORD: Easy drinking effervescence with a complex sweet and tart cherry flavor profile. Totally worth it!