Rodenbach Grand Cru

One of the most common emails that I get, and always love replying to is the nature of one of my all time favourite beers, Rodenbach. So here’s the story – Rodenbach Grand Cru is actually supposed to “smell like Balsamic Vinegar”, to quote many from beer tastings that I deliver. Yes, it’s a hard to approach style of beer, that of Flemish Red.  Yes, it’s one of the more esoteric styles, and certainly the idea of a sour beer is somewhat foreign in more ways than one – certainly more different to the norms of the British styles that I presume you and I would bump into in a pub in the UK.  These beers are intentionally soured and are absolute classics of the Belgian beer scene and much cherished by beer lovers around the world.

There are two general beers that come from Rodenbach, the normal and the grand cru – the normal Rodenbach is the lesser of the two in sourness, where  as, as you’re aware the Grand Cru is somewhat more Acetic, and now for the history…

Rodenbach Grand Cru

A quick scan of Wikipedia, and without wanting to reinvent the wheel, I can’t disagree with its historical parts.Iit’s said that in 1821, “the four Rodenbach brothers (Pedro, Alexander, Ferdinand and Constantijn) invested in a small brewery in Roeselare, in the West Flanders province of Belgium. The brothers agreed to a partnership for 15 years. At the end of this period, Pedro and his wife, Regina Wauters, bought the brewery from the others and Regina ran the business while Pedro served in the military. Their son Edward later took over the brewery (1864) and, it was during his directorship that the brewery saw great growth. Edward’s son, Eugene, took over in 1878 and, in preparation for this place, travelled to England where he learned how to ripen beer in oak barrels and then mix old and young beers. It was this that became the method of producing beer that Rodenbach became famous for.”    Funny, that… seemingly they learnt from Greene King, as GK used to use two large “foeders” for the maturing of beers, could this have been the first collaboration beer?

“As Eugene produced no male offspring, a public limited liability corporation was created and most shares remained in the hands of descendants of the Rodenbach’s until 1998 when the brewery was sold to Palm Brewery. After the take-over, Palm quickly stopped production of Rodenbach’s Alexander beer, a cherry-flavoured beer. However, in recent years, Palm/Rodenbach has produced and distributed, first, Rodenbach foederbier, which is served only from cask, and is unfiltered and unblended. It comes straight from an oak riping barrel and is not processed further. More recently, the brewery has produced Vin de Céréale, sold only in bottles. This is similar to foederbier, but has been in the barrel longer (about three years) and has been formulated for more alcohol. Foederbier is usually 5-6 percent, while Vin de Céréale is 10%.” Following conversations with Latis and I am lead to believe with Cavedirect, Rodenbach went to work on the excellent Rodenbach Vintage 2007.

The tasting that I deliver, especially at the Dove/DoveTail – frequently this beer divides the crowd, more frequently the newbee being being responsive to these flavours, of sour, fruity, oaken, even a little whisky; whereas the more experience rebuffed the beer as it was straight up sour = wrong.   A little bit of encouragement and a plate of spicy foods soon brings people around, showing the beauty of food and beer.    A good friend, the ever so busy and in demand, Sean Paxton, the homebrewchef.com and author of many a great beer/food article in the BeerAdvocate Magazine, made an excellent rhubarb and rodenbach jelly to go with a delectable meats plate.

Rodenbach has inspired many a beer around the world,  the Panil Barrique, Cascade Sang Royale and the Stockton Sour (aka Phil’s Wild Mild) – all very desirable beers in their own ways – right thru to the “Rodenbach in American” – La Folie brewed at New Belgium, by the ex-Rodenbach Brewer, Peter Brouckaert

The yeast and bacteria culture that provided their distinctive taste profile and sourness to De Dolle Brouwers in nearby Esen for use in some of their beers. They had historically also sometimes supplied yeast to Westvleteren Brewery and Brouwerij Felix in Oudenaarde.

I would thoroughly recommend a visit to Rodenbach, and a glass of the Foeder Beer at DeZalm in Roselaare  – I know I owe someone a trip there – this year!

Be afraid, be very afraid…

There are two gentlemen… hell, I bet they have never been called that before…

Take two hop loving beer aficionado’s of absolute life long dedication – something like more than 40,000 beers sampled between them the world over, Dave Unpronounceable, and Gazza Prescott have finally put their money where their mouths are and dived into the art of brewing.

Dave a one time brewer, has from memory had an ambition to get back to brewing and Gazza a long time friend and travelling companion on one of their many beer “scooping” trips has jumped in with him to deliver what they say will be some of the hoppiest beers out!     I have known these two for a good while, there will some fireworks here…   They will be brewing at and under the watchful eye of one of the quietly up and coming breweries in the area, with Pete at  the Brew Co.  If you call yourself a hop head, a beer geek or the like… I am sure you’lk know of these two and I am sure you’ll be hearing loads about their beers!

Congratulations, great effort, brilliant idea and can’t wait to try them!

You can read more here.

over a barrel

barrelBarrel ageing, barrel aged and barrels seem to be one of the most common words being kicked around by the brain cell  in my head.  It’s been a week of barrels…  I can hear those words, kerthonk, kerthonk, repetitively bouncing like the ball being pitched from McQueens hand in the Great Escape…

Barrel ageing, as this illiterate one wrote about some time back here has held more than some interest to me. The technique of adding either early fermenting wort to a barrel, new or old,  or right through to adding near finished beer to barrels previously used to age various spirits or efforts of the vine.   The effects are subtle through to dramatic.

This isn’t a new thing, I suppose every beer was “barrel aged” at a time, when wooden casks were the vessel of choice and availablility.  But, I am not writing about that…

If you’ve taken the time to read the post that I linked to before, there are a few British Brewers emulating the ideas from across the pond.    There are so many Barrel Aged beers coming out it’s hard to keep a track of them all (watch Beermerchants.com around end of September for a surprise) and the idea of taking an already fantastic beer and treating it to some barrel love…

It just got better… it’s got me over a barrel.

Continue reading

as seen through a phone

phone

When I scan through the many pictures on my phone, I was a little shocked as to just how many there were of beer stuff.

My EOS20d had a fall earlier in the year, so I can assume that the phone somewhat tried to fill it’s shoes.  You can have a little insight into the stuff that I see, the antics that I get up to (with Angelo in tow), and the great beers that my girlfriend says has spoiled me… hell, she works for a brewery, can I blame her.  Certainly, it’s not the beers that I get in for you at Beermerchants.com – if you follow us on twitter, I am sure that you’ve seen a few of these… Continue reading

in 80 Beers?

brusselsApparently if I were ever to be taken seriously as a writer, it would be a nightmare rather than a dream being brutally honest, mind worse would be seen as some bloke tapping away at a keyboard for the sake of traffic for an online beer store (to which it has little effect in reality), I best declare interest in the subject…

If you’ve been reading this blog for some time, I occasionally more so, prefer to try to write, that is, something more than “whoopieeeee new beer here“.    The recent Tripin’ to Burton and Lupilin Love blether were fun to write, sort of.   I don’t find writing as easy as the more gifted out there seem to make it look.   When I have the chance to spend time in the company of  Mark Dredge of the excellent Pencil and Spoon Blog, Mark Edwards or Maeib and one of my favourite people – Simon of the Reluctant Scooper blog – I am always in awe of their talent to bring energy into the subject, argue, present or just plain inspire those that read their work – and I am not shy in reminding them.  If you expect something akin to literacy from me, um, sorry. I give up!  This is the reason that I do prefer the art of Photography as irritating as I assume it must be to my friends now.

Recently, I really enjoyed the read Hops and Glory by Pete Brown, so much so it inspired some questions and caused a little journey in search, admittedly hoping to be wrong to a question that I already knew the answer to, as much Simon did.   You see travelling so much and it might sound a shade clichéd but the journey is as important, perhaps more so than the destination.   Beer is important to me, but more over it’s the meeting with fellow beer lovers, the other beer travellers and just enjoying the ride into another perspective on this absolutely stunning beverage.  Really, beer is more about the people, the interaction, the banter,  the camaraderie and all that goes on… great beer can sometimes get in the way.  Yes, there it is, I said it… just get out there and enjoy beer. I love the big esoteric beers, debating the origins of IPA’s and dreaming about monster Danish bourbon barrel aged coffee imperial stouts made with civet cat poo coffee… but, as much the sitting in some cafe in the arse end of nowhere drinking the local lubricant.  Be that gueuze, lambic recently or cans of “best drunk ice cold” just hanging with mates…

So, what’s that got to do with Brussels? Continue reading

The Perfect Beer!

I got a  “have you seen this…” from the girlfriend… I thought it was really good.

yes, it’s nearly my perfect beer.  1, I love Sour. 2, I love sour cherries. 3, I love Pinot Noir.  I will try to find a silly video of us sitting in Russian River this year, drinking way toooo much.

Found this though, please excuse the language.