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Three Philosophers | Brewery Ommegang

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Three PhilosophersThree Philosophers
6,637 Ratings
Three PhilosophersThree Philosophers

Brewed by:
Brewery Ommegang
New York, United States

Style: Belgian Quadrupel (Quad)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.70%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Three Philosophers is a unique blend of a Belgian-style dark ale and Liefmans Kriek, an authentic cherry ale from Belgium. Cherry chestnut in color, it's opaque but not cloudy with full carbonation topped by a smooth, tan head. Flavors and aromas of roasted malt, molasses and brown sugar, dark fruits, brandied raisins and chocolate, Three Philosophers has notable sweetness with low hop bitterness. The mid-palate shows a soft malt center which gives way to a dry, warm, wine-like finish.

The complexity of this beer make it a good candidate for ageing gracefully, as spicy sherry and port notes should intensify.

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 6,637 |  Reviews: 2,158
Reviews by Biddysaurus:
Photo of Biddysaurus
4.75/5  rDev +14.5%

More User Reviews:
Photo of RoyalT
4.67/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance – First off, I held up on the pour after the first couple of ounces came out of the bottle and the head started to roar. I was able to keep it down to two inches or so in my Chimay glass.

The body is a luscious, dirty brown with some good carbonation. [5 min later] The head’s still there so I’m suckin’ some foam and going in.

Smell – The big, bready yeast leads the way here at the nose. The dough is dark with lots of refined sugars along with some good fruits like bananas, peaches, and apricots. There’s a hint of tobacco to this one as well.

Taste – Boy, is this sweet. The darkened yeast is lighter at the taste; the sugars really take over this Quadrupel. The fruits from the nose come on very strong and the “hint of tobacco” (one of my favorite aspects of Belgian Ales) comes on much bigger still.

Everything is playing very well here now that the ale has warmed. The yeast base holds its own (surprisingly) and the complexity of the sugars is well-defined. This is really a terrific Belgian Ale.

Mouthfeel – This is the definition of “fluffiness”. The ale just dances in the cheeks. I’ve found it almost impossible to find an American brewery that can duplicate this mouthfeel – well done Ommegang!

Drinkability – I’m going to start referring to this brewery as OhMyGod. This offering was just incredible.

Comments – What a huge gesture from AleOha to send me not one, but two bottles of this incredible Belgian Ale. He’ll be happy to know that I’m spreading the wealth and will share the second bottle with some local BAs. Cheers to BeerAdvocate.com!

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Photo of Cramshawbar
3.75/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

I don't know for sure, but I have this feeling that reviewers tend to rate a non traditional beer market's attempt at a traditional beer without direct comparison. So for example, here is an American attempt at a Belgian style and wow, that is pretty good for a US attempt, so 4.25. As I said, I don't have proof of this but I have read that type of review and I must say that it is rather unhelpful.
Allow me to compare this to St. Bernardus, Rochefort or Westvleteren and no, this one is not even close. Of course elements are there, of course it is a fantastic attempt but this is not among the great Quadrupels, no matter how we want it to be. It is strong and yet watery, missing the full body and all its intricacies.
It is absolutely worth a try, but for me here in Toronto, why would I pay the same amount (for an extremely limited time at that) for something that costs as much as St. Bernardus (available year 'round)? That would be ridiculous.
So if Three Philosophers is all you can fetch in this style, go for it, this is decent. If you have access to the real deal, don't bother after an initial trial.

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Photo of infinitebruner
4.21/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

February 9, 2015

12 oz bottle, tulip

A – About an inch-plus of light tan, moussy foam head, with moderate-long retention, sits on top a somewhat hazy deep amber to mahogany liquid. Appears a bit thick, with some viscosity, and some light lacing in the glass.

S – Bready, toasty malt, some toffee there as well, with some fruity esters of pear, and residual brown or candi sugar. A very light touch of cherry, and a bit of barnyard funk. Some dried raisins and plums in the background. Hops seem to be low, a somewhat woodsy or herbal impression from what I could find. No bitterness on the nose. Some impression of alcohol.

T – Very malty, again bready and toffee notes, and very sweet, with a lot of residual sugar, possibly dark candi sugar. The slightest hint of bittersweet chocolate. Very light impression of dark fruit, like plums or cherries, and little lambic/Brett character here. Hop flavor is basically non-existent, a touch of bitterness comes through in the finish.

M – Very high carbonation helps to offset the residual sweetness, actually lending some dryness on the palate and finish despite the sugar. A very light hop bitterness is present, but not very notable. Moderate-full body.

O – A complex, layered beer, a lot going on here, the residual sweetness needs to be balanced out a bit, but an excellent sipper.

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Photo of Lunchboxhead
4.05/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Found a bottle from 2010 in my liquor cabinet. Chilled it and opened it today 1/2/2016. This is a seriously complex beer. A ton going on from the spicy opening through to the almost sour finish. This is a beer to be savored as it changes as it warms and oxidizes. This reminds me of almost of a prosecco with the grape overtones but the alcohol reminder at the end elicits a nice warm fuzzy that will keep you coming back until the bottle is empty. I do not know how often I would drink this but I am particularly happy I am doing it now. Consider this a beer you should try at least once. I am very interested in how a fresher one would present.

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Photo of TerryMills
4.44/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Cellared set 2013,14,15 and this is the start of 2018, so ,they have some decent age..

The oldest is very very mellow, mostly sweet raisin taste , not so much yeast or cherry flavor ..

From there they basically get a brighter fresher flavor with more pronounced fresh cherry flavor..

The 2013 is my favorite , these (like all quads I'm sure) are great beers to age.. I would say another couple years easily .

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Photo of ZakFaruki
4.55/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

L: Poured from a 750 mL into a tulip, pours a dark copper with an off white head, a fluffy two fingers of foam

S: The classic Belgian funk, sweet malt, and dried fruits as well

T: Sweet malt, with some cherry and a bit of citrus, finishes with a hint of pepperiness

F: Rather light and crisp for a quad, was expecting a bit thicker of a body

O: An interesting take on the style, the dried fruits add a nice complexion as well. Definitely worth investigating to say the least.

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Photo of hopphead31415
4.27/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I tried this beer several years ago on tap, but it was in a different era in which the artful act of drinking and reviewing beers had not yet been found upon me. Per the request of my dear brother, I have renewed my enthusiasm in this Quadrupel ale by one of the greatest brewers around which is, of course, Ommegang. It boasts a powerful 9.7% ABV and a rather rare one at that, as it is not even. It promises depth and beauty, it tells tales of flavors unspoken, and qualities rare to find in the world of beers dominated by tree-swinging monkeys with zero palate and even less brains (hello Coors, Bud Light, Miller, and Milwaukee).

Look-This beer pours an enigma of color. This means to me that it has a plethora of hues available to those who wish to gaze upon the beauty of this brew. In its natural state, it has a cola-dark and brown ale primary hue. However, in different lights, it will shimmer with a variety of flavor colors. You get copper and amber and also dark freckled beauty with hues that make you want to jump into a syrup tree in Vermont. It leaves thick foamy off-white lacing on the glass that is so heavy that it droops under its own weight.

Smell-I get toffee, nutmeg, spices, brown sugar, and of course a smokey oak and cedar. I get a malt-forward aroma that is laced with a smokey pleasantry that shows up again in the flavor. The smell tells no tales of any alcohol content to speak of. This spins silky tales of deception, for the tongue picks up a different story in the alcohol department.

Taste-The flavor is dynamic and dynamite and complex. It has no hops that are discernable, and a malt-forward medium-bodied complexity that does well on the palate. It plays a game with your nose, but the flavors can be captured by the following description. It has a candied cherry, sherry wine, molasses, smoked cedar, brown sugar, candied plum, red wine like a pinot noir, an earthy pepperiness, nutmeg, cinnamon, chocolate, fruit, and for the holidays a strong note of fruit cake. It was not overly sweet nor distractingly syrupy.

Mouthfeel-The feel is creamy and sweet with a tinge of tartness. It has a high carbonation content that results in a perfectly effervescent component that plays well with the variety of flavors. If you have no tongue to taste, then don’t even bother with this one because it will only tease you.

Overall-This brew is absolutely off the hook. If you normally drink the beer of a moron, then don’t even bother for you are not even close to worthy. If you want a beer that is drinkable and crisp, then this one is for you, but give it a chance and a cold glass to pour into. I think that this one will give a different variety of flavor in each sip so treat her well and pay attention. Cheers!

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Photo of stompilator
4.78/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a 750ml bottle into a wine glass.

A - Poured a deep copper, big off-white head.

S - Caramel, booze, and some unknown tartness. A foreshadowing of what was to come.

T - An immediate wave of delicious Belgian caramel malts hits hard, a multi-faceted web of caramelly flavors, followed by an increasingly intense yeast character, mainly of phenols and solventlike esters. Then, on the back, comes this oh-so subtle tartness, accompanied by a quiet sweetness from the kriek.

M - Nice and creamy, just as dry as you'd want from an ale like this.

O - Has a similar character to the classic Belgian quads, but with an added complexity from the kriek and incredibly powerful yeast character.

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Photo of ClavisAurea
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2014 vintage served in a snifter. 12oz bottle.

Appearance: dark ruby with a creamy tan head. Clear and delicious looking.

Nose: massive dark fruits, cherries, raspberries, currants, prunes and plums. The depth of fruit character doesn't seem to have an end.

Taste: follows the nose, a bit of alcohol but it is not distracting. No age oxidation at all. That could be because of the Brett in the 3% Kriek added.

Overall: this is one of the best American Quads on the market. It is year round, cheap and world class. Buy this now.

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Photo of JackRWatkins
2.73/5  rDev -34.2%
look: 5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 1 | overall: 2.75

Bottle 750 ml in tulip glass

A: lighter than I had remembered/expected, a color very similar (if I recall correctly) to St. Bernardus prior 8, heavy, oily brown color but with a dash of subtle cherry red (derived from the blending of the kriek I'm assuming). A decent head presence, 2 fingers ivory and creamish color, retention was mild at best, decent lacing.

S: very underwhelming. If I had it to do over again, I would not have used the St. Bernardus glass, the mouth being as open as it is, any prominent aroma dissipated rather quickly, so that may or may not have been my fault. Still, it feels unfair to blame the glass for a shortcoming that a beer of this esteem and stature has. With the inclusion of the leifmans kriek, one would expect to get at least a modicum of cherry in the nose but I detected little to none. mainly it smelled sweet in a boozy fashion, not boozy in and of itself but simply in terms of the nature of the sweetness.

T:Honestly I found the two beers blended here to be, at least in this case, not complementary and generally incompatible, this is not to say that the idea of blending a quad with a kriek is inherently bad, simply to say that to me, it does not so much work here. the dryness, tartness, and acidity of the kriek take center stage here in a big way, disappointingly though, the fruit notes have been relegated to the very back of the profile at best. the cherry is overpowered by the quad, which is in turn overpowered by the tart dry acidity of the kriek.

M:Waaaaaaay too carbonated, as I believe someone else noted, this beer kinda destroys the palate, the heavy carbonation bolsters the briney flavor coming through from the dryness and acidity of the kriek, it buries the malt of the quad under all of that fizzy weight. this beer is very sharp and burns a tad

O:this is not a bad beer, but I believe it to be an overly ambitious one, I think perhaps most of all that's what makes it unsuccessful. The quad style is a monster of a beer style built on the legendary brewing traditions of the trappists. generally, though not as much so in the wake of the later phase of this our american craft beer revolution, very few brewers even attempt to brew quadrupels and even fewer do so with true success. the great ones generally come from the trappists of belgium. three philosophers then, may very well be an adequate or to be more descriptive not a bad beer but once again that's the largest part of the problem, Making a 'passable' quad, either in the sense that it's just not bad for beer or even in the sense that it's just not bad for a quad and even tastes like one, is a lot like duplicating a famous painting, sure you have the skill, but if it is not better than the original or at least equally good yet different, who gives a shit. the equally good yet different here was supposed to be the kriek, and if it truly worked in this beer, I'd be inclined to give it high praise indeed all of the praise it deserves. So while points are most assuredly deserved here for craft and a willingness to experiment, what we are left with is a briny, adequate beer with all of the worst characteristics of the beer it blends in, with none of the things that render those bad characteristics complementary.

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Photo of oberon
4.55/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2003 version here,pours a nice chesnut brown with a real creamy head that lleaves very nice lacing,aroma ismalty sweet with a slight spicey note with candied sugar very evident.A very nice rounded beer taste wise softly sweet with some spicieness with the cherry taste that lingers in the background,wow what a great tasting beer!I could drink this pretty potent brew all night!

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Photo of Popsinc
4/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

While im not a huge fan of Ommegang's beer, i think i've found my favorite of their offerings.

This was a dark orange/brown pour. Plenty of liveliness in the glass and a generous head. The nose was obviously spicey and sweet. Hints of caramel fudge an underlying spiciness. The taste was much of the same. Medium bodied with a full, lively mouthfeel. Sweet on the finish with a nice lingering touch.

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Photo of Marty
4.32/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a dark amber and mostly cloudy. Head dissipated fairly quickly; this beer has very little carbonation by design. Smelled and tasted of all the fruits mentioned on the label, particularly raisins and apricots. The sweetness is much more prominent than the alcohol, which you can definitely feel coursing through your veins after a full glass. This is a very good strong beer that’s surprisingly drinkable.

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Photo of cam477
4.75/5  rDev +14.5%

Photo of choilet
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%

Photo of DanGeo
4/5  rDev -3.6%

Photo of Fear4Beer
4.4/5  rDev +6%

AMAZING when poured into a glass: that reddish hue looks absolutely beautiful. What I get on a few sips is a nice malt backbone, cherries, a very low amount of bitters to balance out the maltiness, smooth, and an alcohol warmth as it goes down into the stomach. I think I might be the first to say this (I really hope I am) but while I was drinking it what came to mind was "Dr. Pepper". Try drinking this and tell me you don't get that vibe too! That is definitely not a negative because if you don't like Dr. Pepper you don't deserve to be American. That's in the constitution. haha. It doesn't taste exactly like Dr. Pepper of course but it must be that blend of cherries and the maltiness that just reminds me of it. The drink is absolutely divine. Another home run from Ommegang. I've tried several of their beers now and they are among the elite breweries in America.

I drank the 2014 version in 2014 (for you people in the future reading this). Be aware that this drink is suggested by Ommegang to be cellared and many people reviewing it are drinking cellared versions from years ago. If you want to know what a fresh batch tastes like, look no further. That's what this review is about.

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Photo of tectactoe
3.95/5  rDev -4.8%

Photo of ricke
3.98/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2008 vintage.

A: Dark reddish brown, almost more red than brown actually. Slightly hazy. A very big yellowish head fizzes away rather quickly but leaves stylish lacings.

S: An interesting smell that's kind of hard to pinpoint. Plenty of malts, dark bread yeast and prominent notes of berries. Quite a lot of chocolate as well, herbs and grass. After a while an unusual smell of roasted and tart aromas develops. This is really a complex smell with a wide range of different components. It's slightly edgy and perhaps it doesn't make it all the way, but it's still pleasant and interesting.

T: A nice character of sweet Belgian style dark ale in the fore, with the typical mix of powerful malts and vinous notes of cherries and other dark berries and spicy and herbal yeast. Some caramelized sugar, chocolate and grass. Faint notes of bubblegum and soft candy. In the middle, a gentle tartness develops (might this be the kriek lurking in the shadows?). The finish is slightly bitter with notes of coffee, iron and stale bread, perhaps even some hop notes. The alcohol is noticeable in a not entirely integrated way.

M: The body is not as big as I think I would have wanted it to be, and the lack of body results in the flavors coming out as a bit thin as well. The finish is slightly dry, whilst the mouthfeel is smooth.

D: An impressive tasty and complex beer which I enjoyed quite a bit. But it's slightly edgy and I don't think it really manages to succeed in the ambitious task it sets up for itself.

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Photo of t2grogan
4/5  rDev -3.6%

Photo of TCHopCraver
3.77/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Review is from notes taken on 2/10/10.

A: Poured into an over-sized wine glass. Showed a deep mahogany color with an off-white/brownish colored 2-finger head. There was a bit of a reddish tint in the body from the 2% Kriek. Light lacing on the glass disappeared after a bit.

S: Lots of raisin, fig, fig newton (tehe) with a hearty yeast character supporting the fruitiness. There was an unmistakable aroma of maraschino cherries in the background. I don't really care for maraschinos, but it was not a dominant smell, so it didn't offend me that much. A caramel sweetness was also evident, and as the beer warmed, the cherry smell faded and some alcohol notes appeared.

T: Big, rich malt taste. I have to say that the fake cherry taste was just a little too much for me. There was, however, a pretty good balance between the fruity (raisin, fig) sweetness and a spicy, clean finish from the yeast and hops. The good fruit flavors became the dominant taste as the beer warmed.

M: Nice, full, tingly feel. It really nailed all of my taste buds and warmed my palate.

D: I like a lot about this beer, but that darned maraschino cherry flavor was just too heavy in the flavor mix for me. I shared the 1 pint, 9.4 oz. with my girlfriend and I'm not sure I would want much more than that.

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Photo of MadScientist
4.43/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A: A medium amber with red highlights and excellent clarity. The very light tan head picks up a touch of the red hue and has long lasting creamy bubbles that form a thin head and leave fine lacing on the glass.

S: Cherries, Figs and some malt sweetness that kind of comes together like candy coated dried fruit. There is a light perfumey alcohol note and mild Belgian esters and very light peppery phenols.

T: A moderate cherry tartness with light fig flavors. The light malt sweetness is counter balanced by the fruit tartness and a light hops bitterness. There is a moderately-light peppery phenols. The balance is slightly tart and bitter. The finish is slightly sweet and the aftertaste is of dark dried fruit and a light hops bitterness.

M: medium bodied with moderately-high carbonation. The is a moderately-light creaminess and a moderate alcohol warmth in the the back of the throat.

O: One of my favorite quads. Great for taking the chill out of a cool Autumn night.

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Photo of Zakk
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%

Photo of jono0101
4.75/5  rDev +14.5%

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Three Philosophers from Brewery Ommegang
Beer rating: 4.15 out of 5 with 6,637 ratings