The third season of HBO's "Game of Thrones" series debuts March 31, and winter is coming with a vengeance. If viewers think they have been thrown off balance by what has previously occurred, get ready for a wrenching thrill ride.
The show is adapted from author George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" series, which I have been reading since its first volume was published in 1996. I envy those who have not read the books yet - I have to settle for enjoying HBO's excellent adaptation while knowing the surprises in advance. They have made me exclaim out loud while reading the books.
I have read Martin since his early days, when he mostly wrote science fiction, starting with his short story collection "Sandkings" and then his outstanding vampire horror novel "Fevre Dream." That would make an awesome movie.
So what does any of this have to do with beer? Brewery Ommegang and HBO collaborated on a "Game of Thrones"-themed series of beers, beginning with the limited-edition release of Iron Throne Blonde Ale this month.
Ommegang has tackled the project intelligently. Brewmaster Phil Leinhart says the Blonde Ale was chosen because a Lannister is currently on the throne in the series. The Lannister family is decadent yet sophisticated, so he felt a delicate Belgian-style blonde with Noble hops would be appropriate.
No need to worry about the beer - Ommegang has not just produced a gimmick beer, but one that is different from its regular lineup and maintains the brewery's high quality. I liked the full mouthfeel and strong, but not overpowering, use of grains of paradise and lemon peel, giving off nice peppery and citrus notes. Other interesting ingredients include red wheat and honey malt.
The 6.5 percent ABV ale maintains a light character with more than average carbonation that makes the beer crisp but not spritzy. Light biscuity malt is evident in the background and the sweet notes are nicely balanced. A kingly beer, indeed.
There has been no word on what subsequent beers in the series will be. To locate Ommegang beers, try the brewery's online locator at www.ommegang.com. If Iron Throne does well, maybe we'll see True Blood Red Ale or Boardwalk Empire Prohibition Beer.