Category Archives: Flanders/Flemish Ales

5 O’Clock on Friday is Rodenbach Time

Fuck Guinness Time. It’s five o’clock on Friday, and that’s Rodenbach time as far as I’m concerned. I’m about to crack a frosty Flemish red, and I thought I’d share this funky old vintage Rodenbach sign I recently found on the Belgian brewer’s Facebook page:

Rodenbach Time vintage sign

And here’s my very own Rodenbach Grand Cru:

Rodenbach Grand Cru bottle and glassware

This is the first beer I’ve had this week, so I’m really looking forward to it. Happy Friday, errybuddy. Cheers, sláinte, proost, santé and all that good stuff.

UBN

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Five Fantastic Flemish Sour Ales

Cuvée des Jacobins Rouge Flemish sour red ale

A few months ago, I wrote a post spotlighting my favorite sour beers. That post has since become one of the most popular entries on this blog—based on page views—because a whole lot of people apparently search Google for “sour beer” and “the best sour beers.”

Many different styles of sour beer exist today, but my single favorite style is the Flemish or Flanders sour red/brown ale.

If you’re unfamiliar with the style it consists of Belgian red or brown ales aged in oak for long periods of time, sometimes multiple years, and then typically blended with “younger” beer of the same style to balance the acidic, sour flavor.

From the Oxford Companion to Beer:

“Oak aging allows lactic fermentation to occur and some additional conditioning by slowly working yeasts, turning the beer slightly sour like neatly aged wine, though many varieties [of Flemish/Flanders aged ales] are later softened by the addition of younger beer.”

Flemish sour ales are often favored by red-wine drinkers because of the crossover in taste. They’re also extremely refreshing. These beers are often expensive, at least compared to other brews, but a lot of work goes into them and they’re usually well worth the price, in my opinion. Here’s a quick list of the best Flemish/Flanders red/brown sour ales I’ve tasted:

1) Brouwerij Bockor Cuvée des Jacobins Rouge

My single favorite Flemish sour ale is Bockor Brewery’s Cuvée des Jacobins Rouge. It’s very sour and acidic yet impressively balanced.  Cuvée des Jacobins Rouge is made from spontaneously fermented beer that’s been aged in oak for at least 18 months.

2) Anything Rodenbach

The most common, easiest to find and least challenging Rodenbach beer is the brewery’s flagship Rodenbach Red. It’s the least sour of its brews, and it’s a great starting point for drinkers looking to experiment with the Flemish sour style and sour beer in general. Folks with an established taste for sour beer will also appreciate Rodenbach’s Grand Cru, which is more sour than Rodenbach Red because it’s composed of more older-aged beer and less young beer, and Rodenbach’s Reserve series.

3) Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck Bacchus

Castle Brewery Van Honsebrouck’s Bacchus Flemish brown ale is another must-try Flemish sour beer. It’s similar to the other beer noted here, but it has a very fruity aroma.

4) Brouwerij Verhaeghe Duchesse de Bourgogne

Duchesse de Bourgogne, or just “Duchesse” as it’s often called in beer bars, is a reddish-brown Flemish sour ale that’s notable due to its strong vinegar taste, which blends nicely with its sour body. The beer is top fermented and is a blend of eight-month and 18-month-old oak-aged beers.

5) Brouwerij Verhaeghe Vichtenaar

Vichtenaar is another top-notch Flemish sour ale from Brouwerij Verhaeghe, and it’s aged in oak casks for at least eight months, but unlike most of the other beers featured in this post, it’s not blended with any other younger or older beer.

Those are my five favorite Flemish sour ales. Drop a comment below if you know of any other worthy Flemish sour brews that should be on my list.

UBN

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The Bruery Oude Tart (2012) Review

The Bruery Oude Tart

Orange County, Calif.-based The Bruery‘s Oude Tart won the 2010 World Beer Cup gold medal for best Belgian-style Flanders oud brun or oud red; it won the 2011 GABF gold medal for best Belgian-style Flanders; and it also took the 2012 World Beer Cup gold medal in the same category.

There’s a reason this brew won all these medals. Oude Tart is a damn fine Flemish-style ale.

I poured my 1-pint, 9.4-FL. OZ. bottle into a large tulip glass very slowly and it quickly formed a thin cream-colored head, which dissipated just as quickly. It has a beautiful tangy and slightly vinegary aroma. The brew is aged in red-wine barrels for 18 months, according to the Bruery’s website, and the result is a fruity, toasted-oak sour flavor. The Bruery’s Oude Tart tastes a lot like Rodenbach’s Grand Cru, which is one of my all-time favorite Flemish ales, but it’s even more tart. And it also has a stronger vinegar taste, similar to Brouwerij Verhaeghe’s Duchesse de Bourgogne but not quite as vinegary.

Oude Tart is probably the best American-made Flemish-style ale I’ve ever had.

The Bruery says Oude Tart will age well for as long as five years. It has an ABV of 7.5%; 15 IBU; it’s a seasonal from the Bruery’s Special Collection; and it’s released in the late summer. My bottle cost me $23, but pricing will vary based on retailer. If you’re interested in picking up a bottle of your own, you better act fast; this one is sure to fly off of store shelves.

The Bruery’s Oude Tart gets an 8/10 on the Urban Beer Nerd scale. (It has a BeerAdvocate.com rating of 94/100 based on 197 user reviews at this time.) Check out the video clip below for more details or visit TheBruery.com.

UBN

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