"It turns out people who enjoy a good sword-and-dragon television series overlap with people who like craft beers," reports Devin Leonard in Bloomberg Businessweek (3/31/14). It’s precisely this insight that led to collaboration between Brewery Ommegang and Game of Thrones, the hit HBO medieval fantasy series. The call came from HBO two years ago, and found plenty of fans right there at the brewery. "We had this little Game of Thrones book club," says marketing director Bill Wetmore.
The connection was indeed a natural. "A lot of the imagery and themes that we’ve portrayed in our beers tie back to that European medieval," says Bill. "The origin of the word Ommegang comes from around 1500 in the Belgium area. The show is a fantasy show, but it does have that medieval European look and feel, the whole knights-and-kingdoms battling spirit." The collaboration started out gently, however, with Iron Throne, "an inoffensive golden ale," given that "plenty of Budweiser drinkers probably watch premium cable-TV, too."
"It was a tie-in with the Lannister clan, which is seemingly sweet, especially the queen, and beautiful, but with a very sinister underside," says Ommegang brewmaster Phil Leinhart. The formula called for "honey malt" for sweetness and lemon peel "to give a little bit of bite on the backside." Next up, last October was Take The Black, a stout honoring "an order of celibate warriors." The third beer in the trilogy is Fire and Blood, a red ale spiked with chilies. Ommegang says the "cross-branded beers have boosted" sales "by as much as 45 percent."