The 2011 version of the Rodenbach Vintage just landed on the west coast, just in time for a last minute Christmas gift option for the beer lover in your life! Rodenbach is the famed Flemish Red Sour Ale producer. Their Vintage is near the top of their line of products. While the two main beers they brew are blends of various ages, the Vintage is a straight 2 year-old beer from a single Foeder!
While the goal of the blends is to create a consistent product with a “house” flavor, the Vintage line allows the brewer/blender to select a beer of unique and singular character. Most of the time, the beer from the various Foeders will need various aspects of other foeders mixed together to create a great tasting product, but everyone once in a while a single foeder will produce beer that can truly stand on its own to create an amazing beer. This is the case with Rodenbach’s Vintage program. Vintage 2011’s foeder is no. 95.
Appearance: Hazy red-brown, tan head, ok retention.
Aroma: Cider vinegar, soy, cherries, sherry vinegar, Balsamic, lemon, brown sugar, “savory” notes.
Taste: Cider vinegar, balsamic, sour cherries, currants, Brett undertones, faint chocolate notes, rice vinegar, cinnamon, cloves.
Overall Impression: Nicely sour with a long finish, Rodenbach Vintage 2011 is even deeper and more complex than the Vintage 2010. It has a good acidic kick and a super spicy finish. At around $20 retail, this beer is still a bargain when you consider many comparable American sours are around $30 and probably lack a lot of the depth this beer has. Truly an outstanding example of the art of sour beer making!
Availability: Highly limited at better beer stores, imported by Latis Imports.
You can read more about this classic Flemish Red maker, including reviews and my tour of their brewery, at my page dedicated to Rodenbach.
I have a 2011 already, and found a 2010 just yesterday, but I think I’m going to try laying them both down for another year or so. If possible, that is. Giving up smoking may prove to have been the easier task!
Unfortunately, the supply is very limited here for the Vintage and kind of expensive, so it makes it hard to get extra to lay down. I want to keep my reviews somewhat timely!
I had one of these recently (In a bar, for 6€; can you believe it? Everyone should just move to Belgium.) and I must say I was a little disappointed. I’m a big fan of Rodenbach’s Caractère Rouge, Grand Cru and Foederbier, but this one? I don’t know. I thought it lacked body, and I was left with a beer that promises a lot (the vinous, fruity, sour notes are there, for sure) but that fails to drive its point home because it lacks punch. I have seen other people being very positive about this one, so maybe I was just in a bad mood, or someone spiked my bottle with water, or whatever.
Based on my tasting, I would definitely advise to let this one rest for a few years, if at all possible. Though apparently the price and availability outside of Belgium is an issue. (There’s boxes and boxes of the stuff in most specialty stores here! Funny to see the import problem from the other side.)
The body issue is easy to explain. It’s beer coming from a single foeder and is 2 years old. After all that time, all the microbes have chewed through a lot of stuff that leaves body in the beer. That’s usually why sours are blended with younger body, to add body back into the beer. But 6 euro for a bottle? That’s crazy! It’s around $20 here.
I remember buying Westmalle at the corner market in Antwerp for 1,80 euro. Amazing beer is so cheap there!