Any true fan knows that one doesn't just watch every episode of a TV show, then read all the books it's based on, hand-sew your own cosplay outfit for Comic-Con, and then call it a day. There's so much more to mega-fandom, especially if you're a Game of Thrones fan. That includes the various housewares you can buy to keep your wine fresh (dragon egg bottle stoppers, anyone?), to the attire you can don to prove your love for Jon Snow, to my favorite part: The Game of Thrones beer. And since Ommegang Brewery (the establishment responsible for Valar Marghulis Dubbel Ale, Iron Throne Blonde Ale, and Take the Black Stout) wasn't satisfied with just four themed beers, they debuted the Three-Eyed Raven Dark Saison and naturally, we just had to try it.
But one doesn't drink Game of Thrones beer and call it a day (well some people do, but we aren't those people now are we?). So I enlisted fellow Bustle editor Christine DiStasio to help me taste test the new beer with perfectly barbaric pairings — because what good is a themed beer if you can't try it with the perfect, Westeros-appropriate snacks?
The Set-Up: Hearty Meats & Cheese
Ommegang has their own suggested pairings...
"Pair with roasted chicken and pork, barbeque and other spicy dishes, grilled vegetables, goat cheese and smoked gouda."
So we took those and ran with it:
- A Lemon-Garlic Roasted Chicken — The Hound's favorite
- Spicy Sopressata — Hey, it's a cured meat, so it has to be time period/realm-appropriate, right?
- Bacon — Because damn, do those books mention bacon... like a lot
- Manchego — a hearty cheese for the vegetarians in the room
- A Turkey Leg — because it's medieval as hell and because it allowed me to put this order into Seamless:
(You really can order anything for delivery in Manhattan.)
Step 1: The Control Sip
Disclaimer: While Christine and I love craft beer, we're not experts by any means. So, in short: We liked it. We liked it a lot.
The official description:
"Three-Eyed Raven harbors a deep dark brown, almost jet-black color with a light tan head. Yeast forward aromas are packed with peppery phenolics and fruity esters. Despite what you might expect from a dark hued beer, the flavor brings to mind a traditional saison: a light, malty body with a hint of sweetness, and roast accentuated by herbal and spicy hops, yet underpinned by pleasant yeastiness. Finish is crisp, with lingering notes of herbal hops and Belgian yeast."
Christine: This is some dark, heavy s—t. (I meant s—t in a good way, promise.)
Kelsea: It’s very wintry and spicy and a little malty. Nothing too crazy, but it's tasty.
We determined that it did not taste like a three-eyed raven (probably for the best), but we're pretty sure that if we were to eat a raven it would pair well. It'd have to, wouldn't it?
Step 2: Three-Eyed Raven Paired With Sopressata
Maybe it was just that we'd been staring at the sausage for so long, but this pairing was one of the best of the day. Spicy sausage? Good. Add dark beer? Even better.
Christine: The spicy sausage is actually really good with it — it doesn't make the beer less spicy, it complements it.
Kelsea: It tastes sweeter. The beer is almost, like, chocolatey now, but it's mixing well with the sausage.
Step 3: Three Eyed-Raven Meets Cheese
This wasn't the worst pairing, but it didn't really hold a candle to the spicy sausage.
Kelsea: I feel like it doesn’t change the flavor of the beer at all; it’s back to neutral after the spice. But the beer kinda makes the cheese taste creamier and I'm into it.
Christine: I feel like the cheese kinda makes the beer taste a little acidic — in a good way.
Step 4: Three Eyed-Raven Plus Chicken
We were tempted to snatch this up in one hand and go to town in honor of The Hound, RIP, but alas, we managed to exercise a tad more decorum:
After a religious experience with the chicken, the pairing results weren't so great...
Christine: Chicken and beer: good by themselves, but together they’re just whatever.
Kelsea: It's just basic. Like if I ordered chicken and then I ordered this beer I wouldn’t be mad about it, but there’s no connection between the two.
Mostly we just really enjoyed the chicken.
Step 5: The Three Eyed-Raven Vs. Bacon
And this is where it all fell apart. Clearly, Ommegang did not intend this beer for the oft-mentioned breakfast meat from George R.R. Martin's books.
Kelsea: The beer tastes so, so, so plain now. All I taste is bacon.
Christine: I think the beer is overpowered by the smokiness. This bacon is super, super, super smoky and it kind of blows the beer out of the water.
For once, bacon isn't actually our everything.
Step 6: The Three-Eyed Raven Meets Its True Love, aka The Turkey Leg
And this is where we hit the jackpot. (I knew wielding a giant turkey leg like a barbarian wouldn't steer us wrong.) Though, we're not professional barbarians, so there was some trouble figuring out where to start...
I can haz turkey?
But once we figured it out, that's when the magic happened.
Christine: This is way better. The bacon was too much and the chicken was not enough, but this smokiness works.
Kelsea: It's more interesting than the chicken for sure, because the beer almost made the chicken taste plain and it’s not plain. You almost need something a little more intense like a smoked turkey leg to go with this beer.
So What Should You Pair It With?
Honestly, go with the Turkey Leg or the Spicy Sausage. You can't have a run-of-the-mill meal with this beer, however delicious rotisserie chickens may be. Your snack or meal needs to be spicy or smoky, but not to the point where it overpowers the beer. If you're keeping veggie, maybe opt for the suggest Gouda (for the smoke factor), but Manchego's not bad if it's what you're working with.
Then again, you could just send your dragons out to toast some goats for dinner. I'm sure that would work too.
Images: Rosanne Salvatore/Bustle