2015 Rodenbach Vintage Flanders Red Ale “Foeder No. 195”, Belgium (Alcohol 7%) LCBO $12.20 (750ml)
I wouldn’t say that I am usually drawn to the sour side of the beer spectrum, but occasionally I’ll find an exception to that rule that really piques my interest.
Enter Rodenbach’s 2015 edition Flanders Red Ale, a large format sour that touches the parts many other beers cannot reach.
Unlike their Grand Cru fresh and sour red ale, which is a blend of large format 17 feet high oak cask (or foeder), the Vintage comes from a single numbered foeder where it is aged for two years before release. And what a multi-layered beery beast it becomes after such élevage. If ever there were a beer complex enough to hold its own at the loftiest of dinner tables, it is this one.
Pouring brown with some red highlights, this beer’s sourness comes in the form of some deliciously tart cherries (the nose has a bit of funky cherry pie action going on too) and crunchy cranberries, hitting the front of the palate, immediately forcing you to sit up and take notice. Incredibly well-crafted, this acid/sour is tempered by a light floral honey and reduced balsamic vinegar, but all without the beer being in any way sweet and cloying, something that tends to put me off many of the stronger beers out there. All of this is perfectly framed by an oak influence that comes over like salted caramel in the mouth. The sour follows right through to the intriguingly persistent finish, leaving the palate delightfully refreshed and greedy for another sip, not something that I feel about so many other of the sours out there right now.
A veritable “Cru” beer, I’m going to be grabbing a few of these to bring along to the next dinner party we get an invite to, so don’t be expecting any Burgundy.
Exceptional stuff. I’m a convert.
(Five apples out of a possible five)
Rodenbach are represented in Ontario by Hobbs & Co. Hobbs & Co. are a Good Food Fighter.
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Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And he had a lovely evening enjoying the complex pleasures of this beer.