Risk < Reward

Beer Review: Duchesse de Bourgogne
Style: Flanders Red Ale
Drink if you like: Sweet and sour candy, cherry pie, balsamic dressings, hypnosis.
ABV: 6%
MSRP: $4.99/11.2oz

Look into her eyes…..

Risky spontaneous fermentation, introduction of wild yeasts, expensive bacteria-infected casks, and aging periods of a year or more can seem like a recipe for disaster. If implemented correctly, this disaster can turn into one of the most unique and sought-after beer styles in the world. Welcome to the amazing, beautiful, and temperamental world of Sours.

The term “Sour Ale” in the BJCP Style Guidelines encapsulates six styles of beer:

17A. Berliner Weisse
17B. Flanders Red Ale
17C. Flanders Brown Ale/Oud Bruin
17D. Straight (Unblended Lambic)
17E. Gueuze
17F. Fruit Lambic

Sour Ales are characterized by an intentionally acidic, tart, sour taste and are Belgian in origin. The Sour brewing method throws a sterile environment on its ear as wild yeast strains and bacteria such as Lactobacillus, Brettanomyces, and Pediococcus are allowed to intrude the beer naturally through the wooden barrels used to age this beer. These yeast strains produce the acidity that is common in the Sour style. The addition of fruit provides a mouth-puckering tartness.

The Sour style has achieved a great deal of popularity over the last decade in the United States. 10 years ago, only 15 Sours were entered into the Great American Beer Festival. This number has grown ten-fold to 149 current entries. To the layman, the term “Sour” can exhibit a negative connotation.

Listen up…Look deeply into my eyes. Deeper. That’s too deep. Ok, that’s just right. Listen to my magical, velvety, flowing words…Sours are freaking great. They are like bottled rainbows. They make you strong and smart. They make a Monday morning feel like vacation at the beach. They enhance your love life*. They envelop your mind, body, and soul. They make you cooler than you ever thought possible. Now, look away from me.

*Results may vary

Soon… You’ll be hypnotized by a beautiful sour lady…..

Now that we’ve raised your expectations, let’s sit down and pour a wonderful, World-Class Sour available in our home state. Ladies and gentlemen…I’d like to introduce you to Duchesse de Bourgogne, a Belgian top-fermented reddish-brown ale. A blend of 8 and 18 month old beers aged in oak casks.

Pass the Dutchie on the left hand side…

Duchesse pours deep brown with ruby highlights. A sizeable, creamy beige head rises above the snifter and fades into a thin cap that provides adequate lacing. The aroma is typical of a Sour. Vinegar, Belgian yeast, cherries, molasses, and brown sugar liven your senses. Taking a sip, this beer is very complex. An initial tartness spreads over the tongue. This beer is rich. Balsamic vinegar sourness, sweet and sour cherries, apples, and slight alcohol as it warms. This Sour is more balanced than some we’ve had in the past. A wonderful medium-bodied mouthfeel with a good bit of carbonation lends well to the style. Overall, this beer is spot on for a Flanders Red Ale.  A beer that pairs well with anything gamey, funky, or rich.

Thank you, Duchesse, for making my wildest dreams come true.

You can find this beer at the following locations:

Colonial Wine & Spirits – Little Rock

Macadoodles – Springdale

Flying Saucer Draught Emporium – Little Rock

Liquor World – Fayetteville

Springhill Wine & Spirits – North Little Rock

We gave this beer 4 diamonds

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2 thoughts on “Risk < Reward

  1. Rex says:

    Alright already! I’ll try one. I’m getting pressure from my brother to dig into this style as well, and he’s always been a hardcore hophead.

    Are the good ones all that pricey? Yikes.

  2. arbeergeek says:

    The good ones are pricey….. But just start slow – just like hops, you have to gain a taste. (and make sure to have the beer more than once regardless of what you think) You may want to try Monk’s Cafe as well as Oude Gueuze (by Hanssens Artisanaal) – both of which are also available here in AR.

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