Review: Brewery Ommegang’s King in the North defeats winter


I’ll be honest, as a beer drinker I don’t like stouts. So I was apprehensive before trying King in the North Imperial Stout, from Brewery Ommegang’s new Royal Reserve Collection- even with my love of the Starks and King Jon Snow!  I prefer the lighter, sweeter offerings from Ommegang such as the Iron Throne Blonde Ale or the Winter is Here Double White Ale. However, this new imperial stout won me over. Brewery Ommegang has chosen well with their fourth installment in their Royal Reserve Collection, giving us the King in the North Barrel-aged Imperial Stout just as the winds of winter have begun blowing.


Named King in the North in honor of our lord commander and king, Jon Snow comes in a similar blackened out 750 ml bottle with a distinctive blue label and the Stark Direwolf across the label. It’s the first blue label on their collection since last winter’s offering, Winter is Here. Hmm curious- the Starks and White Walker beers getting the same color scheme. I’m sure it’s a coincidence, nothing to see here.

The beer itself is an imperial stout barrel-aged in bourbon barrels, and you can tell from the first sip. It has a rich, complicated taste typical of stouts and bourbons which encourages you to sip rather than guzzle. The smell as well communicates this; it has the bite of a direwolf, clocking in an ABV of 11%. While this is on the low side for imperial stouts, that is the highest among the Royal Reserve Collection. Just the sort of thing to keep you warm in a freezing blizzard in the walls of Winterfell.

Ommegang describes it as:

King in the North pours jet black with a thick tan head. Aromas of roasted malt, coffee, and chocolate blend with those of oak, bourbon, and vanilla. The flavor is rich and full with notes of chocolate, vanilla, coffee, and roasted malt up front followed by smooth bourbon and a hint of oak.

And I would agree with their description. King in the North has a foam head and tan coloring typical of stouts. The chocolate and coffee come through the strongest of the flavors listed. It’s very smooth to drink, the bitterness is not overwhelming, and the flavors and aromas make it something I’d be very happy to have regularly.

IMG_20181129_231709The aftertaste especially is very pleasant. Long after you’ve poured back another swallow and the bitterness fades, the coffee, bourbon, and chocolate flavors keep rolling around your mouth. Much like the gruff charms of the Northerners like Big Bucket Wull, the beer grew on me and maybe made me willing to try more stouts in the future. Although, word of warning to my fellow ale enthusiasts, it is fairly bitter, heavy and dark.

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King in the North is available now for purchase in those beautiful 750ml bottles and on draft, and we would love to hear what you think of it here! And thank you to Brewery Ommegang and HBO for sending us the beer.

Released alongside the King in the North is the Royal Reserve gift pack with 12-ounce versions of each beer and an Ommegang Game of Thrones glass. Get them now from your favorite shops- Ommegang has a handy beer finder on their website if you can’t locate them.

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  1. You Can’t Take It With You
    by an Anonymous Australian

    There are many good reasons for drinking —
    And one has just entered my head:
    If a man doesn’t drink when he’s living,
    How the hell can he drink when he’s dead!

  2. “And thank you to Brewery Ommegang and HBO for sending us the beer.”

    Hey! Where’s my beer? I drink beer. I like beer. Sometimes I drink too many beers. But I like to drink beer. How come Brewery Ommegang didn’t send me any brewskis?

    – Brett K.

  3. Stout-lover here. A while back I gave up Guinness Extra Stout to try odd brands and some porters. I’ve settled on a craft stout (Temptress) that’s become my go-to tipple Thank you for this full description–I’ll give Ommegang a try. The North rules.

  4. Stark Raven’ Rad,

    I cannot comprehend how a brewery making GoT-themed ale has not produced a Sandor Clegane ale.

    I’ll never forget that disappointed, sour look on Sandor’s face in this [S4e3] exchange with Rabbit Stew Sally’s father:

    “You got any ale?

    “Afraid not.”

    “How can a man not keep ale in his home?”

    [What better advertising tagline would Ommegang need than: “How can a man not keep ale in his home?”]


  5. Stark Raven’ Rad,

    It’s definitely more on the odd/craft end, there wasn’t a ton in common with Guinness IMO. So you should enjoy it quite a lot 🙂 On one hand, they did have to add flavors for someone like me to like it so that’s kind of a….flavoring your coffee kind of deal. But I wouldn’t have liked it and recommended it otherwise.

  6. “Named King in the North in honor of our lord commander and king, Jon Snow comes in a similar blackened out 750 ml bottle with a distinctive blue label and the Stark Direwolf across the label.”

    Ummm… I thought he’s no longer King in the North: he abdicated in order to be Dany’s boy toy – I mean Warden of the North. And he hasn’t been Lord Commander since bugging out of Castle Black in Season 6.

    Not that I’m nitpicking…. I’m not a beer drinker anyway.

  7. JoeMagician,


    This versatile beverage is the perfect aperitif to stimulate the appetite before a meal, or to complement any entree, whether it’s fish, steak or every f*cking chicken in this room.

    Sandor Ale: The #1 choice of discriminating connoisseurs for snooty dinner parties, holiday meals with whinging relatives, and boring business lunches: Because listening to talkers makes you thirsty – and hungry.

    This Christmas, treat the bon vivant in your life – and yourself – to a limited edition 1500 ml Clegane-sized bottle of Sandor Ale. On sale now for a limited time only. Quantities are limited, so act now.

    * Warning: High alcohol content by volume. Drink responsibly. Be smart and safe: Don’t drink and ride. Hand the reins to a designated ASNAWP. And never leave your goblet unattended.

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