Rodenbach Vintage 2014 Foeder No. 192

Total Score: 8.95/10 RedWine1Cherry1Wood1Tulipglass1

Already back into the Rodenbach with yet another tantalising brew: Vintage 2014 Foeder No. 192. Yes, I’m a huge fan of their Grand Cru, that said whilst I did enjoy the beer I reviewed for #1,000 (Caractère Rouge) the tartness of that beer did end up leaving my jaw a bit sore afterwards. Now I’m not too sure what happens to sour beers when you age them, but I’m hoping/suspecting that the sourness drops a little and gives way to that overall grape character I found in Grand Cru. If this is the case I will be both elated and disappointed – elated for obvious reasons – disappointed because this is probably the last bottle I will ever see of this vintage (this was the last bottle at my local). Well, as they say in Belgium: Santé! (or Proost!).

Poured from a 750ml corked and caged bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Hmmm, more bruin than rogue, not unlike the Grand Cru, with a hazed brown body and a thin beige head that drops back to a nice lace ring – looks tops, though (like Grand Cru) I would probably classify this as an Oud Bruin instead. 8/10.

S: Yep there’s no mistaking the base beer of this being Grand Cru with an aroma of: pungent, funky grape must, grape Hubba Bubba™, musty yeast, acidic vinegar and sour cherry. It’s almost a carbon copy of the Grand Cru I had recently, except maybe a bit more vinegar acidity and a touch of woody character. 9/10.

T: Once again Rodenbach gets my “acid reflux trigger warning” award for being brazenly acidic – luckily this time I have some Gaviscon handy! Wow, what a crazy Hubba Bubba™ nightmare [in a good way]! Flavour profile is front and centre with an almost balsamic vinegar intensity, grape must, grape Hubba Bubba™, hint of sour cherry, musty yeast and that slight woody note. Finish is sour, though not quite as intense as Caractère Rouge, with a slight drying character. It’s sweet but not OTT, balance (apart from the obvious acid bulldozing) is great. 9/10.

M: Mouthfeel is again a weak point with Rodenbach (if it can even be considered a weakness here): Mid to light, slightly denser than Grand Cru, with a borderline aggressive carbonation. 7/10.

D: So evenly matched with Grand Cru that the scores turned out the same – this is the slightly bigger, more acidic and woody version of Grand Cru. The only big difference is the size of the bottle and the fact that it’s limited release (hence rarer). Not sure if I’m missing something but I don’t see the nuance that makes this any better than Grand Cru though (which is already exceptional). 10/10.

Food match: You’re gonna need a big cheese platter for this bad boy.

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Rodenbach Caractère Rouge

Total Score: 8.9/10 Cherry1RedWine1Raspberry1Tulipglass1

#1,000 for reals this time. I’ve been squirrelling so much anticipation, ewe wouldn’t even believe, but bear with me – this is a massive milestone, let me crow about it [animal puns: success!]. 7 years ago I posted my first review on beeradvocate.com, and in that time I’ve had many many great beers, and in the last few years less and less crap beers. TBH I realised life is short there are too many beers out there for one man to drink (and review) so I’ve been sticking with the “good stuff”. Rodenbach Caractère Rouge: good stuff I’ve heard, plus I already love Rodenbach Grand Cru, seems like a no brainer. No, it isn’t my usual “what’s the BIGGEST (ABV) beer I can get my hands on”, but let’s give something different a go (yo!).

Poured from a corked and caged 750ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Cloudy red fruit coloured body with a nice tight-packed salmon-tinged head that slowly dies back to a thin lace ring. A stunning seductress: “the coyote of the desert likes to eat the heart of the young and the blood drips down to his children for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and only the ribs will be broken…” mmm. 9/10.

S: Red currents, cherry, grape-aid, hints of vanilla, the aroma is quite sweet, very fruity, but this no doubt belies a tart flavour hiding within the flavour profile. Without question this is the most berry fruit I’ve ever encountered in a beer – it’s a pervading musk, like a female version of Sex Panther: “60% of the time, it works every time” [yes, it’s a Ron Burgundy night for me]. 9/10.

T: God damn this is a taste sensation. It’s upfront sugar: red current, cherry, raspberry, cranberry, grape-aid, hints of vanilla, then in comes that classic Flanders Red Ale sharp acidic tart overtone to cut through all sweetness and finish crisp and moreish. It comes with an acid reflux trigger warning: you will get reflux from this if you’re susceptible. Further sips make me question the amount of tartness in this brew – such a complex and beautiful homage to berry fruits, yet it’s a touch too sour IMO. Otherwise it’s a grand flavour profile. 9/10.

M: Medium bodied, hints of wateriness, with a heavy/dense carbonation. 8/10.

D: Sourness holds Caractère Rouge from being up there with Grand Cru, however we’re comparing a world class Fruit Beer with a world class Flanders Red Ale… made by the same brewer! Rodenbach are legends, for good reason, they make unique beers, and what might be too sour and acidic for me might be perfect for you, horses: courses. It’s all glorious, viva beer! 9/10.

Food match: Game meats with wild forest mushrooms and truffle (oh & an antacid).

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Rodenbach Classic Flanders Red Ale

Total Score: 8/10 WhiteWine1 Caramel1 Cherry1 Tulipglass1

You know that funny feeling you get when you know you’re about to crack open a world class beer and the hairs on the back of your neck stand up? I’m getting that feeling with this Rodenbach Classic Flanders Red Ale, and it could be because their Grand Cru was a spectacular introduction to the style… or it could be that beer is like crack cocaine for me and I have a really, really bad addiction problem… I’m going with the former [yes indeed, good choice me] thanks me [you’re welcome me] you’re welcome yourself me… aaand so forth.

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a Duvel tulip – here’s a top tip: if you’re ever in doubt as to which glass to use with any given beer go with a Duvel tulip.

A: Cloudy red-tinged brown body with a tan head that soon reduces to a thin lace ring. Looks borderline Flanders Oud Bruin, but we’ll forgive it this one appearance transgression, not the poor head though; at 5.2% ABV there should be a head. 6/10.

S: Quite forward with a tart cherry/grape aroma. There are hints of wood from the oak and a light caramel malt base with some bread yeast, but overall the pervading sense is one of dry astringent tartness [I’m puckering my face in anticipation]. 8/10.

T: Once again Rodenbach did well to keep the tartness in check with this brew taking on more of a vinegary slant than the Grand Cru (which was more grape-aid). Notes of burnt caramel, wood and cherry are hinted to in the background… actually the burnt caramel is a bit more noticeable than the other background notes, you get the idea. Finishes quite dry and moreish like the Grand Cru, hmmm. 8/10.

M: Almost identical to the Grand Cru: mid to light body, hmm, slightly watery, with a nicely dense carbonation. 7/10.

D: Well there isn’t a great deal of separation between the Grand Cru and Classic bar that the Grand Cru is much more interesting and flavoursome. Don’t get me wrong [get me right!] Rodenbach Classic is a tasty Flanders Red, however one will instinctively draw comparison between Classic and Grand Cru and the latter nails it whilst the former is decent enough but not nearly as great. I will say one thing: Rodenbach Classic goes down very easy, but with the slightest challenge from the astringent aspects that you feel like you’ve glimpsed into the eyes of greatness, found a tart granny smith apple in a golden chalice, with some angels standing around it, and licked the juices dripping forth from the sacred receptacle… or something quasi-mystical along those lines. 9/10.

Food match: A selection of cheeses arranged on a platter would suffice.

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Rodenbach Grand Cru

Total Score: 8.95/10 RedWine1 Cherry1 WhiteWine1 Tulipglass1

Rodenbach, Rodenbach, Rodenbach” – A colleague at the bottleshop I work at raves on about Rodenbach all the time. Naturally I had to get some Rodenbach and review the absolute shit out of it [as I do]. My colleague recommended starting with the Grand Cru, “You like Flemish Reds? This is the best.” I nodded back adding “Of course, who doesn’t love Flemish Reds!?” secretly knowing that I’ve never had a Flemish Red before, damn my incessant beer-snobberyism! Turns out they’re similar to a Gueuze… great! I love a good Gueuze *cork pops*.

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: The style should be called “Flanders Brown Ale” if this is representative of their general appearance: Hazy deep caramel body with a thin off-white lace ring around the glass… I’m giving it a good score because I don’t know any better. 8/10.

S: Holy funk Batman, this is one funky aroma. Starts out with a pungent (but delightful, I love the smell of) Hubba Bubba™ grape note, add some yeast funk, follow this with sharply acidic white wine characters and sour cherry and you’ve got yourself Rodenbach Grand Cru. 9/10.

T: That Hubba Bubba™ grape note morphs quickly into a “Meady” character (i.e. that fruity vinous taste in Mead, the alcoholic beverage of much renown). Following this is some yeast funk, sour cherry and a red wine tannin in the finish, in fact if a beer wanted to grow up and become a wine it would become a Rodenbach Grand Cru first. No doubt there were some large oak barrels involved somehow in this nefariously good process. The finish is astringent/tart/dry and leaves you wanting another sip… then another… and you get the idea. 9/10.

M: Mouthfeel is definitely the weakest aspect, but don’t take that as a criticism Rodenbach as the rest of your beer is pretty awesome, with a mid to light body, hmm, slightly watery, with a nicely dense carbonation. 7/10.

D: My work mate was right: Rodenbach rock(enbach)*s! This whole Flanders Red Ale style is a new and wonderful experience for me after falling for Gueuzes and I’m definitely keen for another now. Rodenbach might even become one of my FDR’s (Fridge Door Regular’s). Top marks Grand Cru! 10/10.

Food match: You’d better bring a sharp cheese platter to this bad boy.

*You knew I wouldn’t be able to resist such a terrible and obvious pun, shut up.

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