After its debut at SXSW in Austin, Texas, earlier this month, Brewery Ommegang’s Iron Throne Blonde Ale is rolling out across the U.S. in the next couple of weeks, just in time for the March 31 season premiere of Game of Thrones. The first of several Ommegang beers themed after the HBO series, Iron Throne was crafted with the plot of the medieval fantasy in mind.
Brewmaster Phil Leinhart has said he was going for a "delicate but piercing" beer, in reference to the evil Lannister currently atop the throne in question, something "fair in color and soft in appearance," but with "complexity and bite to be on guard for." That seems like a tall order, but we’re pleased and impressed to report he pretty much nailed it.
We had the opportunity to try Iron Throne poured from a 750-milliliter bottle into an elongated tulip glass. The liquid has a very light haze and is indeed fair, even lighter than the "golden amber" suggested by the official description. An extremely fluffy, bright white head lingers for just long enough, holding its shape through the first several sips.
Probably thanks to secondary fermentation yeast used in bottle conditioning, bubbles continue to rise from the bottom of the glass long after it’s poured. A slightly sour aroma combines with the undeniable scent of yeasty bread — this brew smells like classic beer.
It’s when you taste Iron Throne that the complexity and bite make themselves known. A slight sweetness meets the tip of your tongue, supplanted by a spicy bitterness and citrus tang as it washes through your mouth. As you swallow, the sour yeast flavor takes over, but it doesn’t stick around; instead you are greeted by a crisp finish with edges of honey. The aftertaste is almost cucumber-like in its freshness. (Post-beer "kissability," as we like to call it, is high.)
We allowed our beer to reach the recommended 40 degrees Fahrenheit before pouring, so there wasn’t much change in temperature as we sipped through the glass. However, as you become familiar with the strong flavors in the beer, subtler notes come through. Hops enter the aroma, and the peppery taste of the grains of paradise included in the brew becomes obvious. The lacing is impressive, coating the glass in large swirls.
Iron Throne will be available in the large-format bottles like the one we tried and also on draft. Look for it in all of Ommegang’s markets, which include every state except Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Montana. Recommended food pairings are cheese and charcuterie, perfect for enjoying at your Game of Thrones premiere party.
— Danya Henninger, The Drink Nation
More From The Drink Nation: