Rodenbach Grand Cru... Sour Ale Perfection
A Review of Rodenbach Grand Cru by Rodenbach Brouwerij
Posted on 9/24/2011 by Chops
                   
Exquisite
As a brew enthusiast, I live for those wonderful days when something truly special crosses my path. Beer is my passion, and all passions suffer from the same complacency rut: the more you explore, the harder it is to be impressed. Every now and then you need a rustling, a revelation, something unexpected and invigorating. Today was once such day for me. I had the distinct honor of sampling the Rodenbach Grand Cru, an exquisite Belgian sour ale.

Allow me to paint you a picture. My wife and I decided to visit our favorite French restaurant. Every now and then they will feature a beer special, which I always partake of when available. This evening was the Rodenbach Grand Cru. Our waiter noted that it goes particularly well with seafood. With that in mind, I decided to order skate (a type of stingray) and my wife ordered a seafood bouillabaisse. The Grand Cru arrived well before our entrees, so I took the opportunity to pour a glass and take some notes. Yes, I'm quite the romantic.

In the glass, Grand Cru has a gorgeous warm mahogany coloration. It's not as deep as a pure brown, nor is it light enough to have a layered red hue. It's just a beautiful rich mahogany with a lovely cherry edging.

The aroma of a good sour ale can be a very tricky to get right. The goal is to have an even blend of sweet and sour. It needs to be sour enough to tingle your nostrils, but sweet enough to be fruity. In other words, it needs to smell like fresh, tart fruit. Too much sour and it will resemble a caustic vinegar. Too much sweet and it will resemble cherry soda. Grand Cru is a study in proper aroma. It is impeccably balanced. All of those luscious dark fruits are perfectly represented without having to battle the sour layer for dominance. I could have nose dived in this nectar for hours.

That first taste had me floating on the fluffy clouds of beer heaven. My eyes rolled into the back of my head as I moaned in beer bliss. I'm fairly certain that my wife was jealous of that first sip. It is a smorgasbord of tart fruity goodness. Each individual flavor popped and perfectly blended with the other. Savory cherries, delicious plums, ripe red apples, creamy vanilla, all kissed with a splash of tangy balsamic vinegar. Unlike most sour ales I've ever had, Grand Cru is extremely crisp instead of acidic. It definitely has the sour punch, but not in an abrasive way. Despite the sharpness of the flavor train, it's actually very smooth and drinkable. The finish is quite tangy, leaving a lovely sour cherry note that dissipates perfectly.

Overall, the Rodenbach Grand Cru is a world class achievement in the sour ale style. Without a doubt, it is the best sour ale that has ever touched my lips. I can recommend this beer to any level of beer fan, but especially to seasoned drinkers. I doubt that novices can appreciate just how incredible this beer is without exploring the style first. On the other hand, I would imagine that most seasoned brew enthusiasts will have a similar reaction to mine. I recommend you chill a bottle, slip into a comfortable robe, dim the lights, queue up some Marvin Gaye and pour yourself a glass. Treat this sexy lady right.

As a final observation, Grand Cru paired perfectly with the seafood we ordered, especially the bouillabaisse. It easily cut through the oily flavors and added a whole new savory base to the dish. To help illustrate this point, I found a great food pairing video for Grand Cru and lobster. Enjoy!

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Rodenbach Grand Cru by Rodenbach Brouwerij
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