Rodenbach beers suit all palates
“Wine or beer?”
While the question may not shoulder the same weight as say, “To Be or Not To Be?” or the “Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything” (the answer to that being widely accepted as 42), it nonetheless elicits pondering among imbibers when happening upon this crossroad.
For us omnidrinkers, “I’ll take whatever ya got” offers a no-brainer (and rarely disappointing) way out. Yet it must be recognized that there are those who strictly side with but one or the other choice. Then there are the “try-curious”: those who are willing to at least entertain the thought of switching sides due to a desire to expand their liquid horizons or due to the fact that the only choice available is the one they wouldn’t normally choose. Grape to grain. Grain to grape. How can the leap best be made?
Those of either camp might well consider the Flemish red-brown ales of Rodenbach. These beers are unique in a number of ways, including “mixed fermentation” (an ancient technique that combines brewer’s yeast with wild yeast), partial to full oak cask maturation, and, in some cases, maceration with cherries, cranberries, and raspberries. The result are brews with enough zesty, complex character to appease the palates of oenophiles, but with the light carbonation and crisp, refreshing attack to appease beer lovers that want to explore the more “sophisticated” (okay, beer people, quit howling…you know what I mean) flavours generally associated with wine.
Not so recently, I had the pleasure of tasting through the Rodenbach range with brewmaster Rudi Ghequire. Engaging, entertaining, and highly respected in the field for his consistently award-winning and sought-after brews, Ghequire pulled out all the stops (and stoppers), first pouring the flagship Rodenbach Classic (Bing cherry fruitiness on the nose, with super-refreshing sour cherry/red apple flavours, and long, sweet/sour finish), followed by the complex Rodenbach Grand Cru. Sporting a similar berry fruit-tinged nose, it also worked is some sultana, earth and spice notes on the nose, with slight toasty/yeasty end notes.
Next up, the Rodenbach Alexander. Aged for two years in oak casks, it’s flavoured with infused cherries and offers a a zesty medley of sour cherry and fruitcake on the nose and palate. Rodenbach’s Vintage 2016 is an age-worthy red-brown, ale personally selected by Ghequire. Unblended and aged in oak for two years, it is full and powerful, with red apple, cherry pit aromas that combine with suggestions of buckwheat honey and amontillado sherry that lead into a long, dry, refreshing final note.
Thrown into the mix were two other memorable fruit-flavoured brews: the Rodenbach Caractère Rouge and the new Rodenbach Fruitage. The former is an award-winning flavoured ale redolent of baking spice, gingersnap cookies, and dried fruit that offers up a palate mixed with exotic hints of spice, pepper, ripe raspberry, and sweet tobacco. The latter is a fun, refreshing fruit ale made from a blend of young brew, two-year-old cask-aged ale, and nine per cent red fruits. It’s a sweet/sour can of fun, bursting with currant, cranberry/raspberry aromatics and a flavour profile that is both serious and light-hearted.
Whether you’re into beer or wine – or looking for something that embraces a bit of both – the Rodenbach line offers a perfect gateway to a world of new imbibing possibilities.