Three Philosophers is one of the year-round ales from Cooperstown, New York’s Brewery Ommegang. The bottle refers to this Belgian Quadrupel as “98% ale – 2% with cherries added”. This bottle was probably about 9 months old when I consumed it (it was from 2009), but the original ABV is an enlightening 9.8% ABV.
Cynics can’t believe it, Epicures hail it a sensation, and Pythagoreans just can’t add up what makes this luscious blend of rich malty ale and cherry lambic so delightful. It might be the flavor of dark chocolate and cherry cordials; it could be the way it acquires wisdom and grace in the cellar. Maybe it’s a conundrum. What’s your theory?
The essence of wonder is a unique and masterful blend of strong malty ale and authentic Belgian Kriek. Our philosophers deduce that this powerful marriage of cherries, roasted malts, and dark chocolate will only achieve more wisdom and coherence as it broods in the dark recesses of your cellar.
Three Philosophers pours a russet brown, with amber highlights that appear in the light. Head is an inch and a half of bubbly cola-colored foam that is fed by the carbonation that bubbles up through the brew. Sediment can also be noted floating around.
My initial thought was this beer smelled of cough syrup, booze and chocolate covered cherries. While giving the cork a sniff I picked up cooking sherry like booziness. As the beer warmed up cherry candy and red licorice smells become prominent.
Chocolate-covered cherries come through first in the flavor, with that 2% making its self known early. A tannic red wine quality comes next before fading into a sherry-like booziness. Thankfully the actual beer isn’t as boozy as the nose lead me to believe, because this beer reeked of alcohol.
Mouthfeel is creamy and light. It sticks to your cheeks and leaves a slight burn in the back of your throat.
Three Philosophers is a good beer and I wonder if a fresher bottle wouldn’t be as boozy (but then again it is a Belgian QUAD). Everything about this beer is big; the nose is flavorful and enriching, with those same flavors coming through in the taste. This is definitely a sipping beer and one that is better after it’s had a few minutes to mellow out.
Overall: 7 out of 10
As a BELGIAN QUADRUPEL: 7.5 out of 10
FOR FANS OF: Brouwerij St. Bernardus ABT 12, Brasserie de Rochefort TRAPPISTES ROCHEFORT 10, Brouwerij Westvleteren TRAPPIST WESTVLETEREN 12