Here are five Belgian (or Belgian-inspired) ales that blur the lines between beer and fine wine. Belgian brewers are masters of oak, and many of their finest ales undergo long and slow fermentation in old oak casks, some of which date back to the 19th century. This treasured oak is home to unique microflora whose activities yield the classic sour and funky terroir of Belgian Lambic and Flemish Red ales. All display a telltale wine-like fruit note that when served cool make them ideal to enjoy during the warm summer months. Sante!
You cant talk about Flemish Red Ale without Rodenbach. For many they typify the style, one which is often referred to as the Burgundy of the beer world. Long periods of aging in large wooden vessels called foeders is paramount to developing its uniquely complex vinous character. Rodenbach is a blended beer, 3/4 of which is a young and vibrant and the remaining 1/4 is ale that spent two years resting in oak. Lactic fermentation produces a bright acidity making for an ale that is simultaneously both sweet and tart. In both aroma and flavor it offers a rich mélange reminiscent of plums, raspberries and Morello cherries.
Duchesse De Bourgogne
Like Rodenbach, this Flemish classic is a blend of beers some of which are spontaneously fermented beer that has spent months absorbing bold tannins from large oak foeders. Darker, older and bolder than Rodenbach, its tangy and fruity with rich maltiness giving way to lovely piquant finish. Its perfect as an aperitif and a wonderful pair for richer poultry like duck and goose. Like Rodenbach, Duchesse is best enjoyed in large bowled stemware, such as a Burgundy glass, in order to fully appreciate its wonderfully complex bouquet of aromas.
Perhaps the easiest beer and food pairing in existence, this rich raspberry lambic works wonders with nearly any chocolate dessert you can dream up. Originally nearly bone dry in character, Belgian Lambics are now available in a variety of levels of sweetness depending upon how producers blend them prior to bottling. Lindemans is on the sweeter side but with enough acidity to keep it from being cloying. With lovely jammy raspberry flavors and aromas and a soft silky mouthfeel, its easy to see why this is our best selling lambic.
Cascade Sang Noir
Welcome to Flanders by way of Oregon. Of all the American breweries brewing sour ales inspired by age old Belgian traditions, few do it better than Portland, Oregons Cascade Brewing. The product of extensive aging and blending, Sang Noir spends time in both wine and bourbon barrels along with heaps of sour cherries. The nose is full of oak, with hints of leather, bourbon and fresh cherries. A beguiling mix of sweet and sour fruitiness leads up to a rich, savory finish that is reminiscent of a fine solera aged balsamic vinegar. Simply one of the most complex Cascades weve ever tasted.
Fermented with 10,000lbs of Totem strawberries grown in the Pacific Northwest, Cascade Strawberry is a berry lovers dream. Pink in color with a bouquet of fresh picked fruit, its lively champagne-like effervescence delivers flavors of strawberry preserves across the tongue. The addition of whole vanilla beans during its long rest in oak imparts a lovely touch of sweetness to an otherwise crisp finish. This is a must try with a big rich slice of cheesecake.