What's Red, Flemish, and Sour?

This spring, we've taken a virtual trip to Belgium. It's been a terrific journey featuring unusual adjuncts (like coriander!), brain-blistering levels of alcohol, and startling realizations. For example, who knew tripel was so light, and so easy to drink? I'm wrapping up our springtime Belgian ramble by sampling an unusual style called Flanders Red Ale. This uncommon style of beer features modest alcohol content (5-6 percent), strong sourness, and pronounced fruit character. This unique blend of flavors is the result of a unique mixture of yeasts and a strain of bacteria called Lactobacillus.

 

Duchesse de Bourgogne

Format Sampled: 11.2 fl oz. capped bottle

ABV: 6%
Availability: Purchased at Old Port Spirits and Cigars
Tasting Notes: Pours a rusty brown with a white head. Aroma is a mixture of cherries, balsamic vinegar, and wet wood, and the combined effect is funkier than a James Brown 8-track! The first sip burst with damp, fresh fruit. Sour cherries, bruised and juicy, crush against my palate. I can almost feel the flesh of a fresh, warm plum before the juicy flavor floods my tongue. The fruit is set off by a tart, restrained acidity. Far from the funky vinegar blast of the aroma, this is a pleasant tartness, just potent enough to temper the fruit. Underneath the fruits, there's a lovely barrel character — with wet oak, cherry pits, and the subtle must of a dark, mysterious cellar. Some cocoa rounds out the base for a drinking experience that melds sweet, sour and savory with precision and flare!

 

Cuvee des Jacobins Rouge
Format Sampled: 11.2 fl oz. capped bottle

ABV: 5.5%
Availability: Purchased at Old Port Spirits and Cigars

Tasting Notes: Pours a rusty brown with a short-lived tan head. Aroma has fresh cider, cherry, and some barnyard funk. The initial sip is so powerfully tart that I feel my entire face collapsing cartoonishly into a pucker! The sourness subsides reluctantly, revealing notes of dark cherry, dried plum and some citrus. Long after the initial sour blast, there's a subtle base of something dark, and slightly sweet. Blackstrap molasses, perhaps? It's subtle, but lends some balance to the overwhelmingly tart flavor. This would be a tremendous palate cleanser, or an aperitif!

 

Monks Cafe Flemish Sour Ale

Format Sampled: 12 fl oz. capped bottle

ABV: 5.5%
Availability: Purchased at Old Port Spirits and Cigars

Tasting Notes: Opening the bottle results in a gargantuan, sour shower, covering my face, arm and keyboard in beer. Thankfully, there is enough left to review! It pours a dark reddish brown, with an enduring tan head. The aroma (now saturating my office) is of cherries and molasses. The initial flavor is moderately sour, with a dense undertone of stewed fruit. There's black cherry, dried apple and a faint melon flavor. A pensive flavor underlies the fruit — oak, caramel and sherry add a dark, mysterious note to the experience. Of the three, this is the most balanced sour — not too tart, and not too sweet. A good introduction to the style!

 

Last modified onTuesday, 13 June 2017 16:31