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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