So you may not be able to throw a party as lavish as the Lannisters, but you can certainly imbibe like one (OK, maybe not Tyrion). Skip the sickeningly-sweet mead and the boozy wine, though, and reach for the tart yet fruity Iron Throne ale, one that would make Cersei Lannister swoon — if only because it’s inspired by the Queen Regent herself.
Ommegang, a craft brewery in Cooperstown, N.Y. that specializes in Belgian-style beer, teamed up with HBO to release a blonde ale called “Iron Throne” (6.5% ABV) to coincide with tonight’s Mar. 31 premiere of the HBO hit Game of Thrones, based on the best-selling books by George R. R. Martin.
Indeed, Cersei Lannister — and her flowing blonde locks — inspired the golden amber beer, which comes in a 750 ml bottle topped with a cork and wire hood, the traditional presentation for a Belgian beer. As NewsFeed savored the crisp, citrusy brew in TIME’s New York City office, brewmaster Phil Leinhart described the brewing process via conference call.
“She has very fair blonde hair, and that suggests right there a pale color beer, so I wouldn’t make a Guinness. It’s a blonde ale in color, but it has a certain hop, a bitterness in there. She has a certain sweetness on the outside but on the inside she’s very evil, so you can use different malts to create a residual sweetness, but maybe raise the bitterness a bit to give it a little bit of a bite.”
Simon Thorpe, CEO of Ommegang/Duvel USA, added that the Game of Thrones tie-in seemed like a natural fit, arguing that Ommegang’s Belgian-style brewing process jibed well with the show’s medieval character. And it doesn’t hurt that so many Ommegang staffers are HBO fans, who used to host screenings of True Blood at the brewery.
“We were concerned about being perceived as commercial,” Thorpe told TIME. “But no one is going to be drinking beer in the show. [And when] different projects come along, they inspire you to think about the art of brewing differently.”
It takes anywhere from 18 months to three years for Ommegang to develop a new beer, but Thorpe and Leinhart confirmed that the brewery will release two more beers — one more by the end of 2013 and another in the next couple of years. And in case you were wondering, George R.R. Martin has yet to try Iron Throne blonde ale, according to Ommegang representatives.
This HBO partnership could be the kind of thing that catapults the small brewery into the big leagues, Thorpe said: “This could transform the awareness of the brewery in the U.S.”