Wednesday, January 6, 2010
flickr Bernt Rostard
I remember the first time I had Duchesse De Bourgogne. I didn´t think very much of it, thought it was over sour and too vinegary. It is now one of my favorite beers..
The reason is simple, it is the definition of the sour ale style. Aged and fermented in oak casks, this truly is the Burgundy of Belgium. This style has it´s origin in West Flanders where children are probably breastfed Rodenbach Classic which according to beer critic Roger Protz accounts for 84% of the sour ale market. Just like a fine Bourdeaux wine, Duchesse De Bourgogne is blended. It is both young and old cask aged ale which adds both character and complexity. Sour ales are often fermented with wild yeast (same as the lactose-fermenting bacteria used in sour dough) and with Duchesse De Bourgogne, this is probably the biggest factor in the vinegary finish it possesses and the huge levels of tartness.
Sour Ales are not for everybody. It took me some time to get to know the style and truly appreciate it´s complexity. I´ve sampled quite a lot of it, Duchesse De Bourgogne being the very best, followed closely by it´s US sister, the Ommegang Rouge (brewed in Belgium and aged for 18 months in french oak!) and the now retired Liefmans Frambozenbier.
In the words of Ferris Bueller, if you have the opportunity you must try it. It is so choice