A Tradition Born in 1549
Holy Roman Emperor King Charles V visited medieval Brussels in 1549 with hundreds from his Royal Court. To welcome the King, merchants, vendors, cooks, brewers, musicians, theater troupes, dancers and more lined up around the city walls and joined in a celebration as his entourage passed by. That parade became known as the “Ommegang,” a word that variously means “coming together” and “walking about.” The Brussels Ommegang Festival continues to this day.
The First Farmhouse Brewery in America in 100+ Years
Belgian breweries Duvel Moortgat, Affligem, and Scaldis join with importers/entrepreneurs Don Feinberg and Wendy Littlefield to build an authentic Belgian-style farmstead brewery in Cooperstown, NY. They locate this cultural transplant on an old 140-acre hop farm in the Susquehanna River valley, in a part of upstate New York once known as Nova Belgium.
Our First Beers
We open in winter with Ommegang Abbey Dubbel, an 8.5% ABV traditional Trappist-style dark ale. Brewed with a complex array of spices and packaged in 750ml bottles, Abbey breaks the mold of the emerging American craft beer scene.
Our Portfolio (and Reputation) Grow
We expand our offerings with Hennepin Farmhouse Saison, Rare Vos Amber, and 12oz bottles. High-end culinary magazines and restaurants across the US take notice.
Ponder the Profound
Responding to a fan’s fantasy of “the perfect beer,” we introduce Three Philosophers, a Belgian-style quadrupel ale. A touch of Belgian kriek – a cherry beer – makes it distinctive, and offers a delicate note of dark fruit.
Witte and First Draft Offerings
Witte Wheat Ale – an authentic Belgian-style witbier – becomes the first Ommegang beer packaged in kegs. Other Ommegang beers are also now available on draft. Distribution expands to 44 states.
Belgium Comes To Cooperstown
Our first full-scale beer festival is held in July. Over 40 breweries and importers join 1,500 beer aficionados in a celebration of Belgian-style brewing that includes tasting, camping, local foods, and music. The festival is a hit. Over the next 15 years, more than 50,000 people participate.
Five Million Bottles
Brewmaster Randy Thiel (1997-2006) holds bottle number 5,000,000 – a commemorative three-liter Jeroboam of Three Philosophers.
Demand for Ommegang beers leads to the expansion of our brewing facilities, increasing capacity some 40% by 2008.
Our first Visitor Center opens, complete with tasting room, store, 100 seat cafe, and outdoor patio.
The Curtain Rises
The natural amphitheater behind our brewery becomes home to our Summer Concert Series, which kicks off with performers such as Wilco, Lyle Lovett, Jack White, The Avett Brothers, John Prine, Bonnie Raitt, and The Old Crow Medicine Show. Concerts continue today, drawing as many as 40,000 people per year.
Game of Thrones
HBO and Brewery Ommegang initiate a historic partnership that will run through 2019, with over a dozen beloved brews that honor the characters and storylines from the hit fantasy series.
Honoring Upstate Hops
In cooperation with Cornell University, we establish an experimental hop yard to promote local hop farming and introduce Hopstate NY, a beer made exclusively with NY-grown hops. The recipe evolves each year, employing the best hops New York has to offer. Starting in 2018, the beer includes New York barley, further supporting local agriculture.
Sours, With a Little Help From Our Friends
Partnering with Liefmans, our sister blendery in Belgium, we create two aged and blended sour beers: Ommegang Rosetta, a kriek-style beer, and Ommegang Pale Sour, a delicious and highly drinkable mixed-culture sour ale. Americans begin to develop a taste for the style – both beers quickly become top sellers.
Deepening our dive into hop-forward styles, we launch The Farmhouse Series, featuring exceptionally interesting and impeccably fresh beer available only at the brewery and limited locations in NY state.
Mixing it Up
Reinventing an age-old Belgian tradition, Blenderie Ommegang offers extremely limited releases only available at the brewery in 750ml bottles. These customized creations blend our own brews with others from our extended Belgian and American family of iconic brewers.
An expanded and radically renovated Tap House opens with a 20 tap bar, 10 tap tasting room, enlarged café and kitchen, covered patio and expanded store, enabling us to properly host several hundred visitors at a time.