March 31, 2014 at 3:39 PM ET
Season four of "Game of Thrones" kicks off this Sunday night, and Ommegang Brewing Company has just released their latest beer inspired by HBO’s fantasy masterpiece. It’s a peppery Belgian red ale which the brewery dubbed “Fire and Blood,” the motto of House Targaryen, famous for once using their fire-breathing dragons to take control The Seven Kingdoms. Each corked bottle of Fire and Blood bears one of three labels designs depicting Dany Targaryen’s dragons: Drogon, Rhaegal or Viserion.
A sip of this 6.8 percent ABV Belgian red ale starts with gush of sweet caramel, which is equal parts fruity and earthy. There’s also an undercurrent of spiciness at play, courtesy of the rye that was added to the grain bill. These tastes give way to a floral hop bitterness that is followed by just a touch of sourness at the beer’s dry finish, which imbues the brew with an interesting wine-like complexity. Soon, a delicate blossom of smoldering heat emerges on your palate, courtesy of the ancho chilies that were used to craft this ale. It’s the perfect touch for a beer dedicated to a trio of dragons.
To make things a little more interactive, we’ve come up with our own set of rules for a "Game of Thrones" drinking game. These can be applied to this Sunday’s season premiere at 9 p.m. on HBO, or throughout season four (or for as long as the characters mentioned below haven’t been killed off).
Take a drink every time Joffrey makes “psycho eyes.” By all accounts, actor Jack Gleeson is the sweetest, most charming person on the show’s set, but he’s downright despicable when he inhabits the role of boy-king Joffrey, especially when he’s doing something particularly cruel, like taking crossbow practice with Ros. Poor Ros! When he makes those happy/crazy psycho eyes, take a drink. You’ll need one.
Drink for dragon fire. With a name like Fire and Blood and a picture of a dragon on the label, it only makes sense to take a sip of this wonderful brew when one of Dany’s dragon-babies belches forth a burst of flames. Make it a double for a direct hit on a single soul. They grow up so fast!
Tyrion Lannister sips, you sip. This one could go either way, leaving you totally blotto or thirsty as poor Theon Greyjoy locked up in Ramsay Snow’s dungeon. After all, Tyrion is a world-famous party boy, but he’s become more serious as of late, understanding that his family and the city of Westeros need his guidance to survive (whether they want it or not). When the imp sips, you do the same.
Sip for stump sightings. Now that the Kingslayer has to adjust to life without his right hand, we can expect to see some gratuitous shots of Jaime’s shiny new stump (this is "Game of Thrones" - we’d be disappointed if we didn’t). Take a gulp when they show his fleshy knob, and a baby sip every time he puts on or takes off his prosthetic hand.
Gulp for glowing blue eyes. George R.R. Martin once described white walkers (known as “Others” in the books) as “inhuman, elegant, dangerous.” He forgot to mention “deeply creepy” and “baby eating.” At any rate, steel your nerves at the site of one of these blue-eyed icy ghasts with a nice deep sip of Fire and Blood – that should warm you up!
Hodor! Take a sip whenever Bran Stark’s protector and personal beast of burden Hodor uses his name (the only word he seems to know) as a declarative statement. “HODOR!” Take two sips if he says it sadly, “Hhhhmmm…Hodor….”
Finish your drink. Go ahead and clear your glass whenever anyone says “winter is coming.” If you’re like many people who’ve just endured an especially cold and snowy past few months, these are perhaps the most dreadful words anyone could say – drink up and take comfort in the fact that summer is on the way (hopefully). You should also finish your drink if you find yourself watching a wedding – we all know how those can end. A little liquid courage should help.
It’s exciting that season four is finally here, and it’s great to have a beer that’s been so perfectly paired to what agony, elation and drama these coming weeks might hold. Regardless of who lives, who dies and who ultimately triumphs, one thing is for certain – we’ll all get to enjoy a lot of fire and blood thanks to HBO and Ommegang.