The Flanders beers are what originally got me into brewing sour & wild beer. A friend of mine had this “Roselare” yeast he’d used for a generation and offered to let me try it out. Having no real idea what a Roselare was, I made a recipe up, brewed 10 gallons, and pitched it into two carboys. Little did I know, that by pitching this yeast, I was literally pitching myself down a road that would lead me to… well, funky town.
Fast forward 6 months later and I tried some of this Flanders Red. It was great. Low levels of acid, some fruitiness, raisins, cherries, plums – where was all this coming from? Not being patient, I kegged and drank the first 5 gallons. The rest sat around and was eventually bottled. Until recently (see: Lambiek Zomer) these bottles were the best beer I’d ever made. I will be as bold to say that it was right up there with a Rodenbach Grand Cru (which I love and drink cases of). Hell, even Gordon Strong tried it and went “Damn, that’s good.” Sadly, there are only two bottles left in existence. It was after I started drinking these bottles that the obsession with the wilder side of things began.
I started to amass large amounts of equipment. I mean, LOTS of equipment. Kegs & carboys by the dozens of all shapes and sizes – and best of all: barrels.
I knew I wanted to start these beers now since they take so long to brew! I started to collect as many different strains of wild yeasts & bacteria I could get my hands on. I brewed not a sour pipline, but rather a sour bore tide. Much of it was quantity, to fill the barrels. Keeping below that 200 gallon limit took effort. This tidal wave of sours is starting to hit shore. The first was the Lambic v1, followed now by Flanders Red v2. This beer sat in a French Oak barrel for 8 months, then was racked to stainless where it has been since. I kegged some of it several months ago and figure it is time to put it on tap. It was brewed 3-2-13. I brewed this one with a friend who didn’t want as much caramel malt as I had used in Flanders Red v1, however I think this is still very drinkable.
Appearance: Hazy dark red, almost deep brown in colour with a nice whisp of a white laced head.
Smell/Nose: Acidic, light fruity aroma. Hints of caramel notes and oak as the beer warms.
Taste: Refreshingly tart. Has a medium sourness. Body is well balanced, full and gentle. A subtle background malt sweetness provides balance. Fruity suggestions of cherries and plum. No hop flavor. Light malt flavors are noticed as the beer warms, with some Riesling character from the barrel. Finishes semi-tart, clean.
Drinkability/Overall Impression: I enjoy this version, but not as much as the first. The velvety richness I experienced in batch 1 isn’t there. However, the profile fits what I have come to expect in a good Flanders Red, save for the fact that this version isn’t quite as acidic.
Overall “score” 8/10