Brouwerij Rodenbach‘s release of their Vintage beer is always one of the releases I anticipate most. The 2012 version was released this year in the United States and will be the third straight vintage reviewed on this site.
If you’re not familiar with this expression of the Rodenbach line, it’s a unblended batch of 2 year-old beer that comes from a single barrel or “foeder.” The foeder that is selected is based on its superior quality and unique character. Each foeder has its own unique microbiological climate which creates different flavor profiles for each batch of beer put into it. Usually, Flemish reds are blended to create a balanced flavor taking some beer from many foeders. In the case of the “Vintage,” a particular foeder happens to create a batch that is exceptional enough to be bottled on its own.
For the 2012 Vintage, it was foeder number 170. Currently, the “Vintage” is the top of the line for Rodenbach in the United States, with the exception of the rare release of Caractere Rouge. The 2012 vintage was brewed in the labeled year and bottled 2 years later in 2014 or early 2015.
If you’d like to read more about the inner workings of Rodenbach, you can read about my visit to the brewery: “The Foeders of Roeselare: A Visit with the Wooden Behemoths of Rodenbach.”
Appearance: Hazy Red/Brown, light tan head, good retention.
Aroma: Chocolate, balsamic vinegar notes, blackberries, blueberries, apple cider, cherry, oak tones.
Taste: Cherry, soft balsamic notes, apple cider, caramel, blueberry, spicy phenols.
Overall Impression: Of the 3 vintages I’ve tried, this is by far the most balanced and round. This is not a knock against the other 2, but just a description of this vintage. The other 2 were each fantastic in their own right. 2012 is lightly tart, lightly sweet, and very balanced with a long finish. In my opinion, this is one of the pinnacles of the Flemish Red style. While not as traditional as a blended Oud Rood, this Rodenbach Vintage series provides a beautiful look inside a the life of a single foeder. Each vintage is unique with its own character and personality. If you see this beer, snap it up while you can. Not much of this one makes it out into the world.
Availability: Highly limited at better beer stores, imported by Latis Imports.
Notes: Best Before 29/07/2017