Liefmans Goudenband is a classic Flemish Brown or Oud Bruin representing the special version of the brewery’s everyday Oud Bruin. Liefmans can trace its history as a brewery back as far as 1679, officially becoming “Liefmans” in 1770. The Liefmans family owned the brewery until 1905, when it was purchased by the Van Geluwe family. They in turn sold the brewery to Riva Brewery in 1990. Riva began brewing the wort for Liefmans at their brewery then trucking it over to Oudenaarde to be fermented and conditioned in Liefmans’s massive tanks. Despite being capable of fermenting and conditioning vast quantities of beer, the brewery portion was completely undersized and powered, the cost of upgrading it would have been prohibitive.
As things go, Riva went belly up in 2007 and the future looked dim for Liefmans. Belgium almost lost one of its great beers and another piece of its brewing heritage. Fortunately, the Moortgat family, owners of Duvel, stepped in and saved Liefmans and their historic beers. Duvel Moorgat has proven to be an exceptional steward of the brands they acquire. They invest money to restore and expand their facilities so they can bring these great beers to a wider audience while keeping the beers as authentic as possible. The one thing they didn’t do with Liefmans was return brewing to Oudenaarde, for the same reasons Riva moved the brewing offsite. The Duvel brewery can crank out a lot of wort very efficiently.
Liefmans wort needs are only a drop in the bucket of Duvel’s production. Besides, all the flavor magic is in the yeast used in Oudenaarde and the conditioning tanks. Liefmans, like Rodenbach, uses what they call “mixed” fermentation. Basically, a controlled and pitched blend of yeast, wild yeast, and bacteria. It’s called “mixed” because it’s not a straight Saccharomyces strain but it’s also not spontaneously fermented either.
Goudenband is Liefmans top of the line Oud Bruin, being a blend of conditioned beers ranging from 4 months old to a year old. It’s then blended with some fresh beer to spark secondary fermentation in the bottle. Reportedly this beer ages extremely well. I haven’t tried an old version, but will keep an eye out for some on my next trip to Belgium.
Appearance: Murky brown with red highlights, tan head, good retention.
Aroma: Chocolate, cherries, raspberries, kirsch liqueur, apples, light funk.
Taste: Cherry, raspberry, milk chocolate, woody undertones, funky notes, spicy finish.
Overall Impression: This is a nicely tart oud bruin. It’s very balanced with a rich feel to it. The carbonation and acidity give a “soft” mouthfeel. This is a true Belgian classic. I’d highly recommend it. In 750ml, it’s a very reasonably priced sour beer and a true example of its style.
Availability: Nationally at better beer stores. Imported by Duvel Moortgat USA.
Note: The cork carried a date of 2011 and the bottle had a best by date of 2021.