Posts Tagged ‘Duchesse de Bourgogne’

Thanksgiving Sour Ales

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

The Huffington Post has an article with Thanksgiving beer suggestions by Justin Philips from Beer Table. Three of the six are sour ales: Rodenbach Grand Cru, BFM‘s Abbaye de Saint Bon Chien, and the Leipziger Gose from Bayerischer Bahnhoff.

My family had Thanksgiving early this year, and it occurred to me that sour ales are particularly suitable for Thanksgiving. In many ways a sour ale is much like a fine wine, seeming to balance the food in a way that a lot of beer doesn’t. Also it’s a really good chance to challenge your family and friends’ expectations about beer. The large (wine-sized) bottles it’s sold in encourage sharing.

Here are several sour beers I think would make a good addition to a Thanksgiving table. Mariage Parfait, the oude geuze from Brouwerij Boon in Lembeek, Belgium, compares favorably with champagne. I’ve written about the rich aroma, which seems light but draws you in, and the bold yet approachable flavor.

Another good choice to match a Thanksgiving meal is Duchesse de Bourgogne from Brouwerij Verhaeghe in Vichte, Belgium. This is a richer beer, with a strong flavor reminiscent of balsamic vinegar. It also has dark fruit and port character. This is one of my favorites; you can read more about it in one of my two reviews.

My last suggestion isn’t actually sour, but it is brewed with Brettanomyces wild yeast. It’s Alive from Mikkeller, the gypsy brewer, also has a bright champagne-like quality. But It’s Alive is a little stronger and has a healthy infusion of hops to boot. The balance between the hop bitterness and the earthy character from the brett is masterful.

Sour Week: Brouwerij Verhaeghe

Saturday, August 15th, 2009

Tonight I will have three beers made by Brouwerij Verhaeghe in Vichte, Belgium. Verhaeghe is a great example of a west Flanders brewery, producing a number of what they call red-brown ales as well as a kriek, a pils, a few amber ales, and a Christmas beer. Tonight I will have the three sours they make that I can readily get a hold of: Echt Kriekenbier, Vichtenaar, and Duchesse de Bourgogne. Astute readers may remember that the Duchesse was the first sour I rated on this blog, as well as note that it is now the first beer I have tasted twice.

Brouwerij Verhaeghe

First up, the Echt Kriekenbier, which pours a ruby-tinted caramel amber with wisps of tan head. The nose has a delicate sweet and sour character. I notice cherries at first, then sweet malt and apple cider vinegar. A complex blend of wood, smoke, and blackberry jam makes this subtle aroma remarkably intriguing.

The sublime cherry flavor begins on the lips before the beer even enters the mouth. The balancing tart accentuates the fruit. Rich acidic and caramel malt body, a bit cidery. The cherry is supported and enhanced all the way back, remaining prominent even in the tart aftertaste. A serious kriek.

The Vichtenaar is an opalescent deep hazelnut brown with a thick and creamy tan head. It has a rich woody aroma with a strong vinegar character. The nose is also a little fruity (grapes or dates) and a little malty. Just a touch of bourbon.

This beer tastes like a strong brown aged in a balsamic vinegar cask. Rich malty toast and caramel is complimented by major woody and flavors and a mild acetic sour. Creamy and mouth filling but lively and with a lingering tart.

The Duchesse de Bourgogne is a lightly hazy dark ruby brown with a thin, long-lasting, layer of tan foam. A rich balsamic vinegar and acetic nose with significant fruit: raisins and dates but also kiwi and bubblegum. This beer has the thick aroma of an empty port barrel.

The Duchesse is relatively balanced but leans heavily towards sour. Some complexity comes from a rich oak character and fruit: raspberries, blackberries, and raisins. A robust cider vinegar sour and caramel malt sweet hold on for a bit before yielding to a fruity tart that lingers for quite a while.

+Echt Kriekenbier

4.0 (3-8-8-4-17)


4.0 (5-7-7-5-16)

+Duchesse de Bourgogne

4.0 (3-8-8-4-17)

Finally Something Flemish

Sunday, January 4th, 2009

Duchesse de BourgogneI’m not going to hide my bias. Belgian beers are my favorites, and among them Flemish beers stand out as heroes among giants. I’m a sucker for anything funky: lambic and gueuze, Flanders reds and browns, saisons. The best beer I have ever tasted was a 1981 vintage Liefmanns Oud Bruin. So the fact that it has taken me this long to have one is insane.

From the Brouwerij Verhaeghe in Vichte I am trying the Duchesse de Bourgogne, named after Mary, Duchess of Burgundy. All beer is variable. Other than the very biggest guys breweries cannot recreate the exact brewing and fermentation situations, and even if they could, the raw materials are never quite the same. This variability is especially prevalent in a brewery that relies on wild yeast or one that does extensive barrel fermentation or aging. As is traditional in Flanders, Verhaeghe uses both these techniques. The Duchesse is the most variable beer I have had. Sometimes it is as flavorful and smooth as the best of them, and sometimes it just comes out a vinegary mess. Let’s see how this batch is.

The Duchesse pours an opal mahogany red-brown. The tan head, while somewhat wimpy, is creamy and long-lasting. The aroma is strong of acetic acid; this comes through as balsamic and cider vinegar. There is also a heavy oak vanilla character and significant fruitiness. Berries and rhubarb are complemented by mango, pineapple, and kiwi. There is a bit of a caramel note as well.

The flavor is overall quite balanced between the caramel malt sweetness and a cider vinegar pucker. Oak, green apples, and raspberries coddle the sourness and temper its potential for fury. The small amount of residual sugar lends a hand, coating the lips and roof of the mouth and enticing the tongue. This one is somewhat more bitter than I remember, lending a complexity but perhaps detracting from the lingering sourness. That’s the best part of sour beer, by the way. As the various organic acids are neutralized in the mouth the flavor takes on new and interesting dimensions. A sour beer isn’t done with your senses for many minutes after the sip. The Duchesse is very much like this, with a lingering character especially on the tip and back of the tongue. The oak and the caramel linger a bit as well, but not as long.

Certainly not the best bottle I’ve had of the Duchesse but a fine example of her.

+Duchesse de Bourgogne

4.0 (4-7-8-5-16)