Knowing your role is half the battle
A Review of Rodenbach Vintage by Rodenbach Brouwerij
Posted on 12/7/2012 by Chops
For the most part, beers can fill a multitude of roles. You can pair a good pale ale will a nice meal just as easily as you can pull one out of a cooler for tailgating. Beer in general is a chameleon beverage and you really can't go wrong with how and where you drink it. But, there are certain beers that need an appropriate time and environment. Sour ales in particular can be really difficult to schedule. They compliment specific meals quite well, such as spicy seafood, and they don't exactly lend themselves to lengthy sessions. So going into the 2009 Rodenbach Vintage Grand Cru, I knew that I had to find the perfect time. That special moment presented itself recently as a post-Thanksgiving dessert beer. Nothing like a belly full of turkey, a relaxed disposition, and some close friends to peak the desire for a special brew. The time had come to open my 2009 Rodenbach Vintage.

I should note that I have already reviewed the Rodenbach Grand Cru base beer, which serves as a nice reference going into this review. I had found it at my favorite French restaurant and paired it with some braised skate (stingray) and seafood bouillabaisse. To this day it is one of my favorite beer pairing experiences.

Rodenbach Grand Cru Review : Click Here

In the glass, this beer has a murky cherry brown coloration. It comes with a frothy tan head that has really good retention. On the nose, one aspect became abundantly clear: concentration. Aging has definitely given this beer a potency that I was not expecting. A big oaky base sets up shop as a solid foundation. Churning on top is an intense mishmash of vinegar and tart cherries. This beer has quite a nasal punch, so it helps to be properly prepared. I spent a lot of time on the aroma before diving in for the first sip. I would imagine the one-two punch of intense aroma and intense flavor would have sent shivers down my spine. So, I made it a point to take my time and savor the experience.

Good thing I waited because the flavor was powerfully complex. This beer latches onto your tongue with a vise grip. Right away you can notice a very sticky mouthfeel that coats your entire mouth like a shot of cough syrup. No need to worry though because the beer drinks quite smooth. The tartness has been softened by the aging process allowing some sweeter notes to appear, namely brown sugar and a hint of vanilla. The core notes of oak, balsamic vinegar and tart cherries are present in full force, but they have gained an impeccable balance through aging. The beer exits with a very strong tart aftertaste that is lengthy and sticky. It's almost like sucking on a piece of sour candy.

Overall, the 2009 Rodenbach Vintage Grand Cru is a phenomenal sour ale. To date, this is the best sour ale I have ever tasted. This makes me sad because I know I will never have another opportunity to experience this beer (at least not for an exorbitant price). But, I know there will be more Rodenbach Vintage years and I will be stocking them for special occasions. This is one of the very few beers that I flat out demand that every seasoned beer fan experience. If you see it, get it. The Rodenbach Grand Cru is amazing enough as it is, but a vintage version carries it to another level. I wish I could recommend this beer to novices, but it's just too complex and potent to appreciate yet. I highly advise acquiring and honing a taste for the style before tackling this world-class wonder. But this doesn't mean that novices shouldn't pick up a bottle. By all means, go ahead and start the aging process early. By the time your sour palate is ready, this beer treat will be prime for an uncorking.

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Rodenbach Vintage by Rodenbach Brouwerij
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