1. Ommegang Gnomegang
Ommegang teamed up with d'Achouffe, an excellent Belgian brewery with a gnome as a mascot, thus the name "Gnomegang." Ommegang brews pretty damn good Belgian styles out of New York so it's interesting to taste a collaboration with brewers from the source. Especially because they used parts of both breweries: 'chouffe yeast for the primary fermenter and Ommegang yeast for the secondary fermentation when the beer was bottle conditioned. The result is a fantastic Belgian-style golden ale. Though I usually have to be in the right mood to drink Belgians due to their strong sweetness, I could drink this one in most situations. The sweetness on this beer wasn't overpowering but smooth and balanced with a lot of carbonation. Belgian beers may lose just a portion of their luster during shipment here to the U.S., so it's a comfort to know you can get comparable taste a state away. Also, gnomes are awesome.
Overall Rating: A-
2. Ovila Dubbel
Speaking of collaborations, this beer has an interesting story. Sierra Nevada teamed up with monks but didn't leave the country for it. They worked with monks from about 15 miles north of their brewery, in Vina, California. There lies the Abbey of New Clairvaux. Sierra Nevada is releasing seasonals, the first being this Dubbel, with a saison and quad coming later in the year, all with proceeds to help out the Abbey. It's interesting that Sierra Nevada, the poster child of the west coast hoppy beer mentality, decided to brew some Belgian styles, which typically aren't hop-focused. Again, this beer has easily comparable taste to beers from Belgium and it may be farther for me than NY, but it's still in the country. As I understand it, this is a one-off beer, so if you're a fan of Sierra Nevada AND Belgians, I definitely recommend finding a bottle and staying tuned to the saison next month and quad in the fall.
Overall Rating: A-