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Ommegang Rare Vos
Written by Team
Michael: Since driving by the Geneva marquee several weeks ago and seeing the “Coming Soon: Geneva Ale House” sign, my mouth has been watering in anticipation. The Ale house boasts 60+ beers and the variety from bottles to tap was pretty extensive. Not only did they seem to have numbers going in their favor, the choices were pretty stacked. Like a giddy child, packing his backpack the night before the first day of school, I too, prepared for my first visit, browsing the web site and reading reviews (at The Perfectly Happy Man, of course) of all their tap beers. There was a Three Floyds IPA that I had been dying to try and a Left Hand Stout that looked good. One of my favs, Tripel Karmeliet was a staple as well and a Brewery Ommegang that seemed interesting. So, after a bit of persuasion, my wonderful wife acquiesced and we hopped in the car. Approaching the Ale House is an experience in and of itself, the grandeur of the Geneva’s old movie marquee illuminating the entrance and wishing you well as you ventured onto the Ale House stage.
After careful analysis of the menu, making sure I hadn’t missed anything on the website, I was ready with my first selection. Despite a not-so-stellar review of Brewery Ommegang’s Three Philosophers, I decided to give them a try anyway, with another of their mainstays, Rare Vos. Now I don’t too often walk into a beer completely unawares, but this one was one of those rare cases. It came, gracefully floating in a gold-rimmed glass, redder than I anticipated. It was a glowing amber (as amber ales often are…), flickering with the light of the tableside candle (set in a Chimay vase, no less; Classy!) and a bit more of an opaque orange-brown in the less-natural light of the overhead bulbs. The thin head dissipated quickly. The nose was saturated in cherries and fruity subtleties, I breathed in deeply, inhaling scents like an orchard in full bloom. My first reaction was to how sweet the beer was. The cherries, again, seemed very present, despite what the online description told, that cherry was overwhelming! They continued through, souring a bit through the duration as the beer warmed. I tried to place the taste, time and again and the familiarity elluded my mind, until the final sip. Although it sounds worse than it was, it almost reminded me a bit of a zinc lozenge I would take when I felt a cold coming on. Boy, I wished I could have just had a few sips of Rare Vos to fight my ailments instead! Grade: B-
Tom: A couple months ago a fellow craft brew enthusiast posted to tweet asking people to match up their personalities with a particular style of beer. While I have no clue what I would be (maybe an outgoing DIPA?), I did however, find a beer that might personify a little lady that caught my attention some time back. Now, it could be relational suicide to compare a lady to a beer, but here goes.
The beer under consideration is Ommegang’s Rare Vos, which means “sly fox” in Flemish. Upon first notice, I could see the similarity in her eyes as this amber ale has a wonderful array of gold, copper, bronze, and brown hues like Fall leaves as they reflect the sun. There is a consistent stream of carbonation that reminded me of her lively demeanor and cheerful laugh. Her fragrance was sweet and relaxing. Each hug brought fresh fruity notes of plum, light raisins, pears, and dates while hints of toffee and caramel lingered in my nostrils. There was a light spicy yeast quality that comes through rather flirtatiously and playful.
What I noticed right away was the nice balance between toasted malts and hops giving way to a spicy earthy yeast component mid way through. I would liken this to her down-to-earth, well-rounded personality and approach to life with a touch of sass and confidence. It is quite simple at first, but then opens up into a well-layered brew as were our conversations. There is a smooth bready quality throughout that I related to her nurturing spirit. At the same time, this beer is elegant, refined, classy, and enjoyable to have in ones company. With an ABV of 6.5% it provides a strong character while maintaining a humble profile.
It is complex and mysterious enough to keep you guessing, searching and pursuing, yet underneath there’s a simple amber ale that only wants to be enjoyed and delighted in. When the bottle was gone I had nothing to show for it. The Rare Vos had vanished and so has my “sly fox.” So, I move on and savor the fond memories. Grade: B
Final Grade: B-Ommegang Rare Vos,