Osburn On Tap: Don’t fear the Rodenbach

*Editors Note: Osburn On Tap has been on hiatus ever since July due to an unforeseen surgery and recovery. WorryOsburn on Tap by Chris Osburn not, Chris is back and he’ll be right here where you expect him to be during the last week of every month.

It’s the time of year in the alcohol world that is largely devoted to pumpkin ales, stouts, porters and hard cider. Luckily, I already wrote about pumpkin ales last Halloween and stouts and porters get all the press. So, why not go in a different direction altogether? How about a brew that feels more like a wine than a beer? This will be perfect for the upcoming holidays. What better way to impress your friends than by bringing a big bottle of sour ale to slow sip instead of the usual wine or champagne? With that said, let’s rap about one of my favorite beers, Rodenbach.

What is Rodenbach?

Rodenbach is a flanders red ale. What is a flanders red ale, you say? No, it has nothing to do with Homer Simpson’s next door neighbor. It is a style of sour ale that is brewed in Belgium. When many beers are fermented with the top fermenting yeast Saccharomyces cerevisia, flanders red ale is fermented most often with lactobacillus (Don’t worry if you’re lost, I am too). This gives the beer a sour flavor due to the lactic acid. This style needs to be aged for a long time (a year or more) in wood (usually oak) barrels to add the acetic acid to the finished product. If you didn’t age this beer, it would probably taste like battery acid (or fourloko). Red malt is added to give the beer its golden red appearance.

Once finished, flanders red ales have a very fruity flavor and smell along with a biting tart finish. This is why this style is more popular to wine drinkers than Pabst Blue Ribbon enthusiasts.

There are two different kinds of beers made under the Rodenbach name:

1.Rodenbach Original: This 5.2% ABV sour ale is a blend of aged and young. It is dark amber in appearance and has the aroma of tart fruit and vinegar wine with slightly oaky undertones. Don’t let the vinegar reference dissuade you from trying this. It’s not s chugging beer. It is a sipping beer that is to be delicately enjoyed on your palate like a fine wine.

2.Rodenbach Grand Cru: This offering is slightly more expensive and slightly higher in ABV (6.0%). It is more like wine and contains much less young Rodenbach.

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