Derek Warren

DRINK IT DOWN: Game of Thrones: Winter Is Here Witbier by Brewery Ommegang

DRINK IT DOWN: Game of Thrones: Winter Is Here Witbier by Brewery Ommegang
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Beer: Winter Is Here

Brewer: Brewery Ommegang

Style: Witbier

ABV: 8.30%

Description: Winter Is Here pours a hazy golden straw hue with a bright white pillowy head that leaves a thick lacing on the glass. The aroma is, as with most Belgian beers, driven by the yeast strain. Strong notes of bananas, coriander, vanilla, candied oranges, and hints of spice with sweet malts dance in the background. The taste follows the nose with strong fruit flavors leading the way while bananas and candied oranges cascade over the palate, followed by sweet malts and noble hop spices and touches of vanilla cream throughout. The flavor is a wonderful blend of sweet and spice for an experience that continues to evolve as the beer slowly warms.

The medium-full body and moderate carbonation are unique to a witbier. Typically, a witbier is around 5 percent ABV, but this imperialized version amps the beer into its own classification. Some styles do not benefit from being imperialized; however, this maneuver has worked wonderfully for Brewery Ommegang. The smooth, creamy body creates a Belgian-style beer that is exceptionally smooth with a full flavor punch. The higher ABV, though, must be kept in mind, as there is very little appearance of alcohol in the beer itself, which means this one can quickly catch up to you.

Food pairing: Ommegang’s Winter Is Here crosses all meal boundaries. Yes, that’s right – this is even a great beer for breakfast or brunch for those lazy winter days! Any egg dishes will have a perfect counterpoint with Winter Is Here. The fruit flavors offer a deeper and more enjoyable experience with eggs prepared any style. Feel free to pile on the bacon and sausage, as the acidity within the beer will cut through the fat and meld the dish into one cohesive unit. If you are looking for a more convenient breakfast, try pairing with an eggs, bacon, and greens panini. The addition of the greens is the perfect counterbalance with the protein and allows the beer to shine.

While we don’t all have the time for brunch, we all need to eat lunch. If you are looking for a lighter pairing, a salad is always a great decision. With a beer of this heft, don’t be afraid to pile on the cheese, chicken, shrimp, eggs, or whatever you want, as this beer can handle it and aid in the melding of the flavors. A perfect dinner accompaniment for this beer is fish; any fish that you typically squeeze a lemon onto is perfect for this beer. The natural citrus sweetness of the dish will be highlighted by the citrus notes within the beer.

Winter Is Here is a great selection for an evening relaxing around the fireplace and with a warm hearty meal of any kind.

The final word: The Brewery Ommegang and “Game of Thrones” beer collaboration has been going strong for a number of years now. The releases have stretched into a wide array of styles but always maintain a firm foot in the Belgian style. Some have been better than others, but all have been quite enjoyable. The latest release ran the risk of being just another witbier, but fear not – it stands firm!

This imperialized version of a witbier packs a punch with flavor and a thicker, smooth body that is perfect for the chilly weather. Fans of “Game of Thrones” will clamber for this beer, as they have for all the releases. However, it should be noted that, while they are collectible, people should drink what’s inside! It would be very easy for any brewery to simply cash in with a beer release tied to such a popular show, but thankfully Brewery Ommegang treats these beers with much more respect and forethought.

If you are a fan of Belgian-style beers, this is a must-try. A wonderful quality that this beer possesses is that it’s so approachable, even a casual beer drinker. The flavors are strong but welcoming and will be appreciated by all. Be sure to grab this one now, though, as they tend to sell out very fast!


Where can I get it? Currently available in 750 ml bottles at: Sabatini’s Bottleshop & Bar (1925 Wyoming Ave., Exeter), Krugel’s Georgetown Deli & Beer (720 Wilkes-Barre Twp. Blvd., Wilkes-Barre), Exit 190 Beer Deli (316 Main St., Dickson City), and Wegmans (1315 Scranton Carbondale Hwy., Dickson City) and (220 Highland Park Blvd., Wilkes-Barre). Also available in a gift pack with a bottle of Fire and Blood (previous “Game of Thrones” release) and “Game of Thrones” glassware, a perfect gift for any “GOT” fan!

Drink It Down is a weekly column that doesn’t just review beer – it provides the full experience of going out and enjoying a quality craft brew. Look for it on Mondays exclusively on NEPA Scene.