Review #12 Duchesse De Bourgeonne 88/100
Short and sweet with this one, as it’s a beer I don’t often get my hands on and it really is one of my favourites, so I want to kick back, relax and truly enjoy it. It’s been a few years now since I started drinking sour beers, and I have found some to be very underwhelming, as in you could barely tell it was a sour at all, and some to be pure vinegar. This one is a very good benchmark in my opinion, a good place for anybody new to the world of sour beers to get their foot on the ladder.
Duchesse De Bourgogne is brewed in Flanders by Verhaeghe Brewery, and The Duchess is probably their most internationally renowned brew. It is a Flemish red ale with a similar sourness to that found in Lambic beers. The beer is named in honour of Duchess Mary of Burgundy. It is top fermented and unpasteurised, mostly comprising of ale aged for 18 and 8 months in oak casks.
Out of the bottle and into the glass it’s rather effervescent, pours what looks like a deep brown but when held up to the light you will see that it is really a deep ruby red, hence the ‘Flemish red ale’ name. It produces a light head which quickly disappears after maybe 30 seconds. On the nose you can smell a very slight amount of ester, an a minute level of what smells like amyl alcohol, then you have the acetic acid coming through with a lot of sharp unripened fruit. I know, I know, this sounds like a chemistry experiment gone wrong, but you have entered the world of sour beers now and it’s time to make some adjustments to your senses. Granted, sours aren’t everyones cup of tea, but give them some time and you might love them.
On the palate, the initial flavour profile you get is that of sour cherries, unripened soft fruits, crab apples and red wine vinegar. This is all very mellowed out by the notes of oak and a slight brown sugar sweetness. Finishing up, this isn’t a beer you’d have a few of in one night, but a beer you can take your time with and truly enjoy. I imagine there are a lot of wine drinkers who would absolutely adore this beer. Feel the power of the sour!