Game of Thrones’ Ommegang brews have long serenaded me with their siren song, the deep, gleaming bottles standing in rows of store shelves like delicious sentinels, waiting for me to rescue them from their retail prisons. Therefore it was with great jubilation that I tried the Valar Dohaeris/Valar Morghulis Gift Pack that was released this October. I’m a big fan of Ommegang, so after the last Game of Thrones offering with an IPA twist that I tried (Seven Kingdoms Hoppy Wheat Ale), it was exciting to see what they would tackle next.
First, let’s talk about the packaging: one may hesitate to throw it out because it’s so beautiful, with silver foil and references to the show. A large Ommegang logo hovers over the two bottles of ale included, perched in front of replica doors from the House of Black and White. “Game of Thrones” says the top of the box. “Yay,” I say in response.
Also included is a gleaming glass with the “Game of Thrones” logo printed on one side in gold. Try the beer in it, if you can; the glass not only adds to the overall drinking experience, but also took off the edge on Valar Dohaeris that one may encounter with Belgians, especially straight from the bottle. You’ll also find that the glasses are excellent to put out on display after the beer is drunk.
On the sides of the box are translations of “Valar Morghulis” and “Valar Dohaeris” (not that the target audience for this set will need them!), as well as descriptions of the ales.
Valar Dohaeris, for anyone familiar with Ommegang’s other products, is a mellow Belgian with a richer, deeper flavor than Witte. It is described on the box as a Belgian-style Tripel Ale with “lovely aromas of sweet grain and honey” blending with “subtle allusions of Belgian yeast,” with a “bright sweetness” and a mouthfeel (learn a new word every day) that is “richly creamy.”
As I found, it doesn’t have that distinctive aftertaste other Belgians do. In my notes, I had that “it was like their Belgian Witte took a Xanax, in the best way possible.”
In the glass, the Dohaeris Tripel ale has an attractive honey color. It mentions yeast on the bottle, which you can detect when you let the beer settle, then swish gently in the glass. It was very pleasant to drink, and one of those beers that is so smooth you may not even realize you’ve nearly finished the bottle. The mellowness may belie the 9% ABV. Sip carefully if you’re planning on downing the whole bottle! This is one to sit and savor.
Valar Morghulis is a Dubbel ale with an 8% ABV. Ommegang describes it as “A Belgian-style Dubbel” with “Rich aromas of caramel, toffee, and burnt sugar…followed by a hint of cloves” and “delicate hopping provid[ing] subtle bitterness.”
In my experience, it’s less of a flashy, readily flavorful beer that will appeal to some people’s palates more than others. Overall, the flavor is muted with a subtly bitter finish. It’s darker both in taste and color than Dohaeris, registering as a gorgeous, deep amber color in the glass. Chocolate and hints of smoke can be tasted, although a feature of this brew is that the flavor is thinner and disappears quickly in the mouth. There is less of a bouquet of scent and taste here. If you don’t like a fuller-bodied Belgian like Dohaeris, you may gravitate towards this. Valar Morghulis is a fine, smooth brew.
If I had to choose between the bottles in the store I would comfortably choose Dohaeris, though these are truly two different animals. Because this is a fabulous gift set, people with different tastes might enjoy splitting the set between themselves (fight for the glass, it’s pretty cool).
If you haven’t had an Ommegang brew in one of their beautiful, corked bottles, please fix that, as they are excellent gift and special occasion drinks. I would highly recommend purchasing this set if you can get your hands on it; the fancy packaging would make a great holiday gift. It was reasonably priced in my local beer and wine store, and the brand put in more effort this time around with its visual presentation, which is always appreciated when you’re paying money to sip a bit of Game of Thrones.
If you’re waffling, don’t. Get it. Drink it, or gift it. And don’t forget to toast Watchers on the Wall!
Valar Morghulis and Valar Dohaeris are available in 750ml single bottles, on draft and as the above collectible gift pack featuring a commemorative glass. The suggested retail prices are $9.99 for the individual bottles and $22.99 for the gift pack. Try Ommegang’s Beer Finder to see if the ales are in stores near you.