When Ommegang, the great Cooperstown, New York–based Belgian-style brewery first announced that they'd officially be partnering with HBO to make specialty beers for the show, we rejoiced. Sure, beer is nearly non-existent in the series — wine by the gallon is the drink of choice for most characters — but something about Ommegang's often boozey, dark, and interesting beers just seem to vibe with the bleak, dramatic world of the characters. So with every release, we drank, took notes, and watched some actors get beheaded on TV. Now the final season is upon us, and Valar Dohaeris, the penultimate release from Ommegang, is sitting on our desk — and we felt it time to rank the beers.
This list may be worse than a leaked death to fans of Game of Thrones — namely because only three of these beers are still available, and they are not our favorites. But if you know someone who kept any of these bottles around... dust them off and enjoy the ranking with us.
1. Three-Eyed Raven Dark Saison Ale (7.2%, April 2015)
Our Original Take: "It's a masterful beer, and our favorite of the Game of Thrones line ... thanks to a rich and intriguing character in a highly drinkable beer. The seldom-seen twist on a traditional farmhouse ale combines the cocoa, roasted, and fruity flavors of an abbey-style dubbel (think Chimay Red) with spicy hops and a dry body you'd find in a beer like the classic Saison Dupont."
How We Feel Now: This continues to be the brew to beat. Honestly, we wish we bought a case of it.
Availability: Sorry folks, this great beer was a one-and-done. To add to the hurt, this was such a unique beer, there's not much in the way of nationally available alternatives. Find a local one if you can. The closest to our offices: Transmitter's B4 Black Saison.
2. Fire and Blood Red Ale (6.8%, March 2014)
Our Original Take: "A potent beer that is bitter, heady, and spicy thanks to the addition of de-seeded Ancho Chiles... the most interesting so far."
How We Feel Now: While the three-eyed raven had us hoarding bottles, the Fire and Blood Red Ale got us to slow down, sip, and ponder the complex array inside.
Availability: This too has gone the way of the Dodo. And like Three-Eyed Raven, but even more so, you're gonna have a hard time finding anything similar.
3. Iron Throne Blonde Ale (6.5%, March 2013)
Our Original Take: "A lightly colored floral and lemony ale" that was equal to the wrath of king Joffrey Baratheon.
How We Feel Now: Of all the beers, this blonde ale was the most quaffable. We give points for that.
Availability: Like King Joffrey, Iron Throne is no longer with us. Fortunately, you have plenty to choose from including Ommegang's own BPA.
4. Take The Black Stout (7%, October 2013)
Our Original Take: This boozey Belgian stout offered lots of roast and a little chocolate and was a favorite around the office, especially for folks who aren't big fans of the more straightforward Belgians dotting this list.
How We Feel Now: While this one didn't quite play to Ommegang's greatest strengths, we give it points for its prevalence of coffee.
Availability: Nope again. Instead, try Allagash's great, year-round Black. You'll be happy.
5. Valar Morghulis Dubbel Ale (8%, October 2014)
Our Original Take: "Similar to its long-running Abbey Ale but with slightly less alcohol and a more straightforward (drinkable) recipe that did without the five spices that are prominent in the Abbey." In short, it's true to the style without much added on top. If you want to try your first Dubbel, this is a great place to start.
How We Feel Now: You won't be disappointed by this beer — but neither will you be blown away.
Availability: Now! You can buy Valar Morghulis in a double pack with Valar Dohaeris in most specialty beer shops.
6. Valar Dohaeris Tripel (9%, October 2016)
Our Take: Bright, boozey, and full of bananas. The newest Game of Thrones take is so true to the Tripel style that it, like its brother brew, Valar Morghulis Dubbel, turns out to be a bit boring. That being said, if you've never had a Tripel, this is a textbook beer, and a good place to learn a new style.
Its Rank: We're looking for something more... twisted in our Game of Thrones beer. This is a plot line more akin to Ned Stark's fatal flaw — it sticks too true to tradition.
Availability: Now! You can buy Valar Dohaeris on its own or in a double pack with Valar Morghulis in most specialty beer shops.
7. Seven Kingdoms Hoppy Wheat Ale (6.9%, March 2016)
Our Original Take: We called this beer a "bigger creative leap" than the previous beers — one that we felt ultimately fell short.
How We Feel Now: This is an interesting beer, we'll give it that — but its departure from the ranks of Belgians feels wrong next to its GoT beer brethren. This doesn't feel like a beer fit for the series.
Availability: At just seven months old, you can still find this one — although it's the one on the list that won't get much better with age (in fact, it will get worse).