I’ve long had a soft spot for the West Flanders brewery, Rodenbach, and the mere thought of their sour, funk-tastic Flemish reds causes almost uncontrollable drooling from yours truly. I was recently fortunate enough to acquire a couple of their star beers, the fruity Caractère Rouge, and their most recent Vintage. Worried about dehydration through excessive drooling I opened the pair of them this Sunday gone, and what a treat they were.
I started with Caractère Rouge (7.0% abv). Fresh cherries, raspberries and cranberries are macerated for six months in two year oak aged beer to create this sour red ale, and it’s quite simply phenomenal! It’s tart leading to sour, with hugely complex fruit flavours, those cherries, raspberries, and cranberries all singing in perfect harmony with no one hogging the limelight. Beneath the fruit there’s some red wine vinegar spilled on old straw lined wooden floor boards and moped up with pomegranate and red currant biscuits, but that fruit trio are definitely the stars. It’s well carbed, dry on the finish. An immensely refreshing beer and up there with certain Cantillon’s in my top tier of fruit beers.
Next was their Vintage 2012 (7% abv), a rather special two year oak aged Flemish red. This stuff is properly, face invertingly sour, and funkier than my socks after a long run. It’s also somewhat bewilderingly complex, with loadsa red wine flavours, along with unripe cherries and crab apples, cider, sweet balsamic vinegar, church pews, weasel piss, a sweaty old leather jacket, playful water voles… It’s medium carbed and bodied with a lovely, lingering sour and fruity finish. I am once again left amazed by this brewery, incredible stuff.
And then they were gone. Two hugely different sours, one bright and fruity, one darkly funky. Both completely awesome. Keep a lookout for ‘em if you like beers that make you go all scrunchy faced. Cheers!
Jolly Pumpkin may produce more oak barrel aged beers then any other American brewery out there, and they’ve gotten pretty damn good at it in their short history. Oro de Calabeza is one of their more affordable beers, a Belgian Golden. Like their other oak aged offering, Calabeza has a great lambic aroma. The flavors that follow are pungent yet drinkable, with sourdough bread, lemon zest, raw dough yeastiness, and some olivy white wine flavors. There’s also a hint of fruit like banana.
Innis & Gunn Oak Aged Beer (Innis & Gunn, Edinburgh)
This is undoubtedly a world class beer and a hophead favourite. You can tell a world class beer by the first mouthful – even before drinking – the aroma and mouth feel are enough. This has both in spades – what a classy beer. Aging beer in old bourbon casks is a stroke of genius – it’s up there with all those other fantastic Scottish inventions like steam engines, decimal points, anaesthetics and equations for electromagnetism (go Maxwell!) Hophead says it’s a Buddy
Review: Southern Tier Oak Aged Un*Earthly IPA (Bottle)
This is by far the best oak aged IPA I have ever had. The beer is incredibly balanced and delicous. Malts dominate, yielding sweet flavor profile reminiscent of maple syrup gronola crunch cereal. Then the hops come in: pine with some citrus. It’s never too bitter, with the hops providing more flavor than IBUs. Really impressive beer.