This Belgian-style quadruple ale from Cooperstown, New York's Brewery Ommegang began as a dream. In 2001, Realbeer.com hosted an essay contest in which participants were asked to submit a detailed vision of a great, nonexistent beer. A Portland, Oregon, homebrewer named Noel Blake composed the winning entry, and Realbeer contracted Ommegang to realize his vision. If Three Philosophers were merely a classic Belgian dark ale, it would be excellent – a smooth, malty beer with enough hop bitterness to give it a kick. But the beer's genius rests in the fact that it's actually two beers in one – 98% Ommegang's Belgian-style quadruple ale and 2% Liefmans's Kriekbier, an authentically Belgian cherry ale. The addition of the kriek gives Three Philosophers a crucial tangy tinge, unifying the whole and bringing the rest of the flavors into sharper relief. Imagine the transformative effect of a perfectly applied dollop of truffle on a plate of homemade pasta, and you'll have a sense of what the addition of the kriek does to this transcendent ale. Three Philosophers is a must for autumn, a 9.7% ABV ale that should be mentioned loudly and ecstatically in any conversation about the best beer in America.
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