“Is this any good?”
“If you know, you know”.
The local bottle shop beer connoisseur answers you in a lazy, kind of smug murmur with an added wink for extra smuggery.
You look back down at the Rodenbach Classic can you just picked up.
You nod with wise eyes as if to say- ‘yeah, I know’ while your soul quietly protests.
So, you walk out with a four-pack just to let them know, that you know.
Cryptic self proclaimed beer experts aside, what’s the deal with Rodenbach?
Quick, hop in and I’ll shoot us down the sour lane.
Dating back to 1821, Browerij Rodenbach is the Original, Grand-Daddy of Flemish-Red Brown Ale. You may be more familiar with the wider category term ‘Sour Ales’ which is a helpful word to distinguish the major taste difference between ales.
Back in the day, the technique of brewing beer in large oak barrels known as foeders (think wine barrels but 100% times the size) was a way to preserve the beer using lactic acid and acetic acid to prolong the ‘shelf life’.
Typically, a flemish red brown ale is aged between eight months to two years. Rodenbach beers are made by ‘cutting’ (blending) young, fermented beer with old, mature beer creating a complex and rich flavour profile that is achieved by maturing over oak. This brewing method is unchanged since the early Middle Ages.
Rodenbach continue to use traditional methods with the largest collection of wood foeders in the world coined ‘the beer cathedral’ in Roseleare, Belgium. Considered a Belgium National Treasure, Rodenbach is as relevant today as it was in 1821.
Rodenbach is a classic example of Flemish red-brown ale, hence the ‘Classic’ in its name.
The complex flavour of this beer is due to the blend of 24 months aged on oak ‘cut’ with young beer. Made up of 75% young beer making it the tartest of the Rodenbach range.
Despite its heavy brown-red appearance, the Classic is a remarkably refreshing. That that green apple tartness produced by the large percentage of young beer makes the Classic a wonderful beer to pair with heavy foods.
Great with pre-dinner nibbles like cheese and rich meats or as a compliment to your main meal of rich or fatty foots like burgers or slow cooked meats. The palatable acidity cuts through the fat making your meal that much more enjoyable.
The mildly sour taste and complex fruitiness is reminiscent of wine.
Big call, Michael.
So next time you’re met with a conversation about Rodenbach, you can gladly skip the uncomfortable smile and nod and confidently swipe a case knowing ‘yes, it is damn good’.