The brewery sit upon a picturesque knoll on a former hops farm in the town of Middlefield. The land as well as the pure upstate New York water defines Brewery Ommegang according to Thorpe.
“The brewery was founded on a former hop farm in 1997 to embrace the rich brewing history of Otsego County and because of the perfect water supply beneath the brewery grounds,” Thorpe said. “We are very well supported by our community and enjoy seeing local faces at the café and at our many events we host throughout the year. Local friends bringing their out-of-town friends to lunch or a concert really helps spread the magic of Ommegang around the country and the world. This area is not just good for Ommegang, it is Ommegang.”
Deb Taylor, director of Tourism for Otsego County, said the chamber made a good choice in its pick of Distinguished Business of the Year. She touted the brewery’s community involvement as an asset in several ways.
“They are so innovative,” Taylor said. “They do so much — from brewing specialty beers that reflect different aspects of the area to the ‘Game of Thrones’ beers —bringing out elements of something unique and making it accessible. I have been to their VIP tent tastings and they are very plush. But they also do things like the Snommegang event on Main Street in Oneonta.”
Ommegang has steadily made a name for itself as craft beer with imagination. The community involvement, including the recent Snommegang and annual “Hop Chef” competition, has added an interactive element to an industry that has been traditionally two-dimensional.
The “Hop Chef” competition draws aspiring chefs from around the country who create two dishes to be pared with Ommegang beer. The paring is judged by professional chefs and a consumer audience. The winners are invited to compete in Cooperstown during the brewery’s annual “Belgium Comes to Cooperstown” festival in August. (Tickets for this year’s event go on sale April 1.)