The wife left me and the baby tonight. No not for good, she just went to see Sex and the City with her friends. Along with many married men, I was left to fend for myself while the women of the world packed into theaters to watch a movie we have no interest in watching at all. Thankfully, I made a stop by BevMo before she left and grabbed some entertainment for the evening.
As I mentioned a few days ago, I like to share suggestions with friends, regardless of how far away they may live. This time, I was the happy recipient of a suggestion or two. Said Omaha based friend (Shane) has taken a liking for the Belgian Sour Ale. We’ve discussed these beers and I have had to admit, I really don’t know much about them. Beyond my experience with Russian River’s Compunction, I’m new to this hard to define style. While he does his best to work down RateBeer’s top 50 Sour Ales, I jumped into the kiddie pool and grabbed a bottle of Rodenbach Classic and Verhaeghe’s Duchesse De Bourgogne.
I started the evening with the Rodenbach, trying to play it safe. My thought was, if I was only going to drink 2 glasses of beer, best to finish a 750 mL bottle as opposed t opening the smaller Duchess and only finishing half of the Rodenbach. This went against the recommendation of my friend.
The Rodenbach was a pain in the ass to open. I was worried that I got an old bottle from BevMo as the cork felt like it was ready to rip apart as I tugged away. Finally it opened with a loud pop. I poured this into a snifter and caught the first whiff of the horseblanket smell that many Belgians are known for. This one had a bit of a vinegary touch to it, but also smelled of a dark red wine. Held to the light, the dark ale showed a surprising clarity and a brownish-red hue. The head rose quickly and the faded back with similar haste, leaving nothing more than a few bubbles along the sides of the glass.
The flavor is full of cherries and dark fruits, followed by a tartness and again, the vinegary, vinous finish. This beer wasn’t exactly sour, but very tart. My experience with Compunction had set the bar high for a candy-like pucker inducing sourness that the Rodenbach just didn’t possess. Thankfully I had a large bottle to finish and once that bar had reset, I settled into a enjoyable and very unique experience.
With the evening still young, I felt it was a good idea to try out the Duchesse. This was billed as being the star of the show. The difference between the two was noticeable immediately. The aroma was similar, much sweeter, much more complex, with less vinegar and more fruit coming through. The same can be said for just about every aspect of the beer. The beer was a deeper red when held to the light, just as clear, and held the head slightly longer. The flavors of the beer are much more complex, and again, much like a dark red wine. The sweetness and tartness of this beer really played off of each other. You drink in the sweetness, which needs the tartness for balance, but at the same time, beckons you to take another drink. This one goes down quickly, and the 11.2 ounce bottle I bought really felt inadequate. One other thing to mention, the artwork on the bottle is beautiful, very different from the style of bottle you’ll find here in the states.
Sadly, I only bought two bottles tonight, as the night is getting ate, but the wife is still just getting into the theater (what is a Sex in the City movie night without dinner and drinks?). The style of Sour Ale is a bit confusing, with less rigid definitions than most styles. Thankfully, there’s Russian River just down the street and I will make sure to dive into their always available selection of sours.