Ommegang - Belgian style

Belgium's Duvel will brew some Ommegang Ale for American market

Aug 31, 2005 - Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, N.Y., can't make enough beer, so has turned to its "parent" - Duvel Moortgat in Belgium - for help.


Moortgat recently began brewing Ommegang's flagship Ommegang Ale for sale in 750ml bottles in the United States, and will continue to do so until Ommegang's capacity catches up with demand.

The first shipments have reached Ommegang's East Coast warehouse and bottles should be on the West Coast by Sept. 22. Brewery Ommegang will continue to make Ommegang Ale to be sold in 12-ounce bottles and occasionally in kegs as well as the range of beers it has added since first brewing Ommegang Ale in 1997.

The brewery opened as a partnership between an American importer, Vanberg & DeWulf, and several Belgian breweries. Moortgat eventually bought out all the parties, take full control of the brewery in 2003 and beginning a series of expansions. After sales grew more than 20% in 2004, brewmaster Randy Thiel oversaw an expansion that boosted brewing capacity 40%, but realized he still couldn't keep up.

After he consulted with Moortgat technical director Hedwig Neven, they decided Moortgat would brew Ommegang Ale in Belgium. U.S. beer drinkers will soon be able to judge the results of recipe discussion, trans-Atlantic tast tests and blind samplings. "The Ommegang Abbey Ale that Hedwig and Duvel brew is everything we brew our own Ommegang Abbey Ale to be: dark, aromatic, malty, and deliberately luscious and rich," Thiel said. "I do have some mixed emotions; as I probably couldn't brew it better myself."

Thiel wouldn't be surprised if Moortgat must continue brewing Ommegang Ale through much of 2006. "It's certainly not cheaper to make it in Europe," he said, referring in part to shipping expenses. "So, as soon as we can accommodate the brewing, we will bring it back home."

In the meantime, Brewery Ommegang will absorb the additional expense. "The price of Ommegang to our wholesalers will remain the same," said Ommegang marketing director Larry Bennett. "We are not raising the price.... (We want) to ensure our ongoing supply of beer."

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