Ommegang: A Belgian Beer Festival in Cooperstown

Ommegang Belgian Beer Festival Comes to Cooperstown Seinfeld-themed and the Soup Nazis

There’s no more appropriate place to channel Jerry Stiller and shout “Festivus” than at a beer festival. (You can get away with a lot at events where the focus is on booze.) Even more appropriate would be shouting it at a Seinfeld-themed beer festival. This summer that micro-dream came true when Brewery Ommegang hosted their Belgium Comes to Cooperstown Belgian beer festival. In the spirit of Seinfeld, they dubbed it “A beer festival about nothing,” even though it was about the quality of good Belgian beer.


Ommegang Beer Festival Belgium Comes to Cooperstown


I had attended this Belgian beer festival years ago, when it hadn’t yet expanded to 3,000 people who camped out in the huge field attached to the brewery. On that first trip, I only made it to about 6:00 pm. Let’s just say watch the episode when Kramer drinks the spoiled milk and you’ll have an idea as to how my night ended. So for my return, I came in with an adapted strategy: (1) Go slow and (2) Do not sample from each of the breweries, (which I had unwisely done last time when there were 60 brewers in attendance. Mind you, Belgian-style beers have an alcohol content about three times higher than the typical crap beer most people drink). I’ve also had a lot of practice over the past year at beer, bourbon, barbecue festivals, Toronto beer tours, and chili cook-offs to know better.


Ommegang Beer Festival Belgium Comes to Cooperstown


The Belgian Beer Festival Begins


Starting slow was relatively easy because I attended a pre-event hosted by Duvel, where, on top of the pastrami sandwich that I had eaten on the ride up, I coated my stomach with some incredible h’ourdouvres, like beer-steamed mussels, raw oysters, bacon-wrapped scallops, and chocolate truffles. Somehow, I still managed to spill a bowl of muscle broth all over my shorts. It presaged a rough day.


Ommegang Beer Festival Belgium Comes to Cooperstown


By 3:00 pm, after everyone had set up their tents–the campgrounds looked nothing like camping and more or less resembled a fun refugee camp with endless lawn chairs, Corn Hole games, and Ladder Ball racks crammed onto every patch of grass–the festivities kicked off. With seventy-eight vendors in attendance, I reminded myself to abide by rule number 2.


Disclaimer: All information after this point is dubious. Read with caution.


Ommegang Beer Festival Belgium Comes to Cooperstown


I’m an IPA guy, thus one of my favorite discoveries was Green Flash’s hoppy Le Freak. My favorite go-to beer at home is Lagunitas’s IPA, so I loved their Little Sumpin’ Wild. I’m also a big fan of Left Hand Brewery and their ginger-tasting Good Juju certainly charmed me. If you’re a New Yorker, two beers that you should definitely support are Good Nature Brewery and Hopshire Farm Brewing. They were both tasty farm breweries, which are breweries that must use a certain amount of state-grown ingredients.


Ommegang Beer Festival Belgium Comes to Cooperstown Serenity Now Station


Of course, beer is only one component of a great Belgian beer festival. The Seinfeld theme added to the enjoyment. Ommegang had set up a chair similar to the one that George had used to model for his “sexy” photo, motivating festival-goers to strip down to their underwear and pose. A massage station nicknamed “Serenity Now” and a cigar tent that should have had more Kosmo Kramer connections were set up side by side. Some attendees dressed as Soup Nazis, others wore shirts with witty references to Costanza.


Ommegang Beer Festival Belgium Comes to Cooperstown Seinfeld-themed shirts


And since it was a beer festival about nothing, there were also mass cheers for no reason at all. Every so often one drunk would lead a toast that would birth like a stadium wave. After everyone had had at least four beers–the pours were pretty much a full beer–a mass “USA” chant erupted for some reason, appropriately followed by shouts for “Belgium, Belgium.”


Ommegang Beer Festival Belgium Comes to Cooperstown


A highlight of the event, besides the beer, were the people. Everyone was extremely friendly. When we had returned to our tent village, most groups were barbecuing or drinking beers that they had brought from home (since the tastings included in the ticket price ended at 7:00 pm). My buddy Lee and I sat down among the group, when the grill master near us, a guy from Buffalo said, “You look like you guys need a burger.” After the burgers, he forced us to eat grilled sausages and a plate of pasta salad.


After devouring their food, Lee and I cruised the grounds happening upon more friendly folks who shared drinks and allowed us to participate in their lawn games. We were so wrapped up with the people that we missed most of the festival events like the live music and the Ferris wheel. We were also way overindulged in Belgium culture–namely liquid Belgium culture–causing us to fall asleep before the fireworks and outdoor movie, while all the crowd around us continued to party and yadda yadda yadda.




Posted on by Noah Lederman in New York, Or Bust

2 Responses to Ommegang: A Belgian Beer Festival in Cooperstown

  1. Agness

    I am not a big fan of beer, but this festival looks like a lot of fun. I actually visited Brussels last month and had a time of my life at Robbie Williams concert :).
    Agness recently posted…Postcards from I AMsterdamMy Profile

    • Noah Lederman

      It was really a blast, Agness. From what I recall. I definitely want to visit Brussels, though my only knowledge of the city is of their beer and love for RW.

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