February’s beer of the month is Rare Vos, a “Belgian-style café ale” produced by Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, N.Y. Rare Vos (“sly fox” in Dutch) takes its name from a pub in Schepdaal, Belgium, known for being the starting point of pigeon and bike races.
Rare Vos is the perfect beer to celebrate an accomplishment or to cap a long day’s efforts. According to Ommegang’s website, Rare Vos is its “most quaffable” beer and what the brewers like to drink after a lengthy shift. Indeed, this ale makes for easy drinking: Not only is Rare Vos tasty, it lacks the high ABV of Ommegang’s other Belgian-inspired brews.
Rare Vos is cloudy caramel-amber in color and two fingers of dense, beige and buttery head will leave trails of lacing stuck to the glass as it settles slowly. Though Ommegang recommends serving Rare Vos in a “tall glass,” a tulip will work just as well and accentuate the beer’s inviting and irresistible nose: Aromas of yeast, clove, coriander, pepper, caramel, banana and apple are prominent. As the beer warms, a whiff of orange emerges.
Rare Vos’ flavor mostly mirrors the aroma and is couched in a full, thick and bready mouthfeel reminiscent of wheat beers. Flavors of caramel, light pepper, clove and coriander are most noticeable. Banana and apple are present but underwhelming, and orange peel provides a pleasingly zesty finish.
- Serving temperature: Ommegang recommends serving Rare Vos at 40º F, but beware of the insanely erroneous misprint on the label that notes 50ºC as the conversion. The label should read 5ºC as 50ºC is actually 122ºF!
- Alcohol content: 6.5 percent ABV.
- Food pairings: According to Ommegang, “The balanced flavor, lively spice qualities and ease of drinkability make Rare Vos great on its own or with pub fare like mussels and fries.”
- Where to buy: Rare Vos should be available at all major area retailers where Ommegang beers are sold.
- Price: $9-10 per four-pack and $9-10 for 750 ml bottles.