Liefmans Goudenband

Total Score: 8.25/10 Cherry1Wood1RedWine1Tulipglass1

This is a new one: Liefmans Goudenband. I like to think of myself as a Belgian beer connoisseur, but really when I find a new Belgian beer to review; like this Liefmans, I begin to wonder if I’ve barely scratched the surface. In any case I’m glad I happened upon this as I have fast become a fan of Flanders beer styles – first through Rodenbach and then Petrus – they’re certainly styles I can get down with: Their vinous grape notes, the light tartness mingling with a hint of balsamic and just enough sugar to balance it all out… I’m going to enjoy this! [you can imagine me saying that in a Freddy Quimby voice if it helps].

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Rich/deep seal brown-coloured body, probably cloudy but it’s hard to tell with a body this opaque. Mocha head quickly dissipates leaving a thin lace ring and a few surface splotches. Moreish as many other Belgian brews, I really just want to tuck in straight away – can you blame me? 9/10.

S: Tart black cherries, note of oak, vinous grape tones and even a hint of peppermint round out this brooding and complex aroma… “pretty wow this” says the sommelier in me. The beermelier in me says “yeah, it’s a decent Flanders Oud Bruin”. Moral to this (albeit brief) tale: If you appreciate wine but you think beer is crap, boy is there a world out there for you to discover – I suggest starting with Belgium. 8/10.

T:  Not as sour as the other Flanders Oud Bruins I’ve had, there’s definitely a bit more sweetness out-wrestling the tartness, with overall notes of: Black cherry, oak, vinous grape, burnt caramel with a dry finish. Aftertaste oddly brings in a (perhaps unwanted?) grainy note along with green apple character. This is an interesting take on the style, and one that I will definitely explore again in future. 8/10.

M: Medium bodied with a light but dense carbonation. 8/10.

D: This is quite the enigma of a brew, a mystery wrapped in a paper label that says “Liefmans Goudenband” on it. I’m certainly engaging with this style more than others these days – that hit mixture of sweet and sour does a tap dance on my palate every time, and you think I would go for the more sour driven styles like full-on Lambics and the like, but oh no those styles sacrifice sweetness at the altar of sour (just check out my review of Lindemans Oude Kriek Cuvée René on BeerAdvocate, username: doktorhops). This Flanders Oud Bruin sits in the sweet spot for me [pun as always: intended]. Cheers! 9/10.

Food match: Cheese platter all the way with this baby!

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Petrus Oud Bruin

Total Score: 8.1/10 Cherry1 RedWine1 Bread1 Tulipglass1

Ahhh, Petrus, Doc’s favourite new Belgian brewer for two simple reasons: 1) It’s cheap, 2) It’s good… really what more could you want? Cheap & good is good enough for me. That said their Aged Red was not without flaws – it was cloyingly sweet with cherry cough syrup notes, will this Oud Bruin – which is one of the base beers used in the Aged Red – be a sweet cherry cough syrup nightmare… all right, slight exaggeration; mildly bad dream? Or will it triumph with a more balanced flavour? Time will tell (15 mins to be exact).

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Presents a deep hazy chocolate brown body with a thin half centimetre tan head that soon dies back to a light lace on top. Looks brown enough to qualify as an Oud Bruin. 8/10.

S: Sour cherry and musty yeast notes punctuate what is (for me at least) a delightful and classic moreish Belgian aroma – cherries and dusty cellars – can’t get more Belgian than that! [the entirety of my imagination pictures Belgium as one giant dusty catacomb with cherry trees growing throughout it]. Another whiff gives off book-like characters, it actually brings back memories of those scratch-n-sniff stickers from my primary school days – the power of a brew to make you reminisce is indeed a prodigious thing. 9/10.

T: This is the Rodenbach-en-like I was hoping for when I had the Aged Red – Sour cherries front to back, it’s not too astringent (it’s just right), apple cider vinegar lends acidity (as with any beer style that begins with “Flanders”) with a mid-palate hint of grape sugars and a mildly dry bitter finish. Oh yeah, yeast – plenty of that lending a dusty/stale character. Très Bien! 8/10.

M: Mouthfeel is a little bit lacking, a little bit watery, with a mid to light body and light but dense carbonation. 7/10.

D: The balance with this Oud Bruin is up there with the greats, however I’m almost left wanting for a tad more of the sweetness found in the Aged Red… this is though a minor complaint for an otherwise excellent brew. If you’re seeking traditional Flanders Oud Bruin flavours this is a decent introduction to the style that balances sweet and sour so aptly, à votre santé! 8/10.

Food match: Brasserie cuisine (eg; Steak frites) or a hard cheese platter are appropriate matches.

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Petrus Aged Red

Total Score: 7.95/10 Cherry1 Wood1 Honeycomb1 Tulipglass1

Here we go, unexplored territory: Doc’s first Flanders Oud Bruin (or in the parlance of English: Flanders Old Brown). Having fast become a fan of Flanders Red Ales, specifically Rodenbach Grand Cru, I’m looking forward to this Petrus Aged Red (or Foudre Rouge en Français) as I’m still crossing beer styles to try off my list [I think there’s only another 10-13 styles left that I haven’t had including obscure stuff such as: Faro, Braggot, Roggenbier, Gose and Kvass… W(here)TF do I get Kvass from in Canberra???]. Anyway that’s enough waffle, bring on the Petrus!

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a Duvel Tulip.

A: An interesting deep hazy brown/ruby body, no doubt the ruby is a result of 10% of this brew comprising of cherries, there is also a pink-tinged tan coloured head that quickly dies down to a thin lace. One of the most interesting brews I’ve ever seen, quite outside the box, Doc likes outside the box. 9/10.

S: Cherries, real sour cherries dominate this damn fine aroma. This is one cherrystravaganza! Combined with this are notes of oak (woody/vanilla French oak), sourdough yeast and honey. Here’s hoping the taste is as good as the aroma. 9/10.

T: Woah! *Keanu Reeves voice* This is a big cherry slap in the face which starts out (almost) sickly sweet, then hits with slight tart character and finishes with a medicinal note that morphs into cherry cough syrup (not a fan of that part). Everything else takes a back seat as the cherry demands your attention, with those hints of oak, sourdough and honey lingering in the background. The question with Petrus Aged Red is: Too much? And the answer for me is ‘yes’ and ‘no’. I sorta really like it… then I don’t… my tongue is so confused right now. 8/10.

M: Medium bodied, a bit of cloying from the sugar content, with a light but dense carbonation. However I am wishing this would go down a bit easier. 7/10.

D: This is one beer that could benefit from less flavour intensity, especially in the finish with the cough syrup notes, and believe me – if you’ve been following my reviews you’ll know this – I very rarely say that a beer can “benefit from less flavour intensity”. You have been warned. Question now is: Did I end up deciding if I actually like Petrus Aged Red? Yes, I think I do… hmmm, I’ll try it ice cold next time. Some good cherry characters at play here though. 7/10.

Food match: Roast beef with a cherry jus, sautéed leeks and chard, and a cherry tart with whipped cream for dessert.

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