Ypres is another experimental beer marked with De Struise Brouwers characteristic bold house style. Ypres is their interpretation of a Flemish Oud Bruin, or sour brown ale. Like other beers of this style, it’s created via “mixed fermentation.” A cultured mix of standard yeast and souring agents (bacteria and wild yeast) are pitched into the beer to start the souring process. They are then stored in barrels which usually host their own mix of wild yeast and bacteria to age and sour. The end product is usually a blend of the various barrels. Since each barrel is its own micro-climate, the beers will develop differently. This necessitates blending to get a consistent product with a depth of character and complexity.
The 2009 version is called a “Double Barrel Aged FOB.” The double barrels indicated are Wild Turkey bourbon barrels and Burgundy wine barrels. It’s also named after the southern Belgium town of Ypres, which is the French name. It’s called Ieper in Dutch. Ypres hosted some of the most fierce fighting during WWI. According to the anecdote on the bottle, the British soldiers who were stationed in this area called the town “Wipers” since they had trouble pronouncing the French name.
Appearance: Reddish/Brown, tan head, ok retention.
Aroma: Oak, vanilla, cherry, currants, vinegar notes, coffee cherries.
Taste: Tobacco, wood, hints of smoke, dark chocolate.
Overall Impression: This is a nicely tart Oud Bruin with a dry, woody medium length finish. Ypres has that characteristic bold slightly out of the norm to style guidelines character that I’ve come to recognize as a hallmark of De Struise’s house style. Oud Bruins are few and far between, especially when compared to their cousins the Flemish Reds. If you can find this one, you wouldn’t go wrong giving it a try. It’s got a lot to offer to sour fans, wood-aged fans, and to creative beer lovers. It may not be ideal as a “pure” example of an Oud Bruin for those looking to learn the style guidelines, but it’s a mighty fine interpretation of the style and one that should be enjoyed.
Availability: Limited in small batches at better beer shops. Imported by Shelton Brothers. Although I imagine this one is a much smaller production item than most of their beers, which are already produced in small batches. It’s probably only available in Shelton Brothers best markets.
Note: This beer was sent to me by my friend and Belgian Beer Blogger, Belgian Beer Geek.