John: The first time I sipped a sour I thought there was something wrong with the beer! The aroma was like nothing I’d ever had and the taste was, well, sour! Living in Minnesota I’ve discovered that sours aren’t all that welcome where Swedes and Norwegians live with their bland foods and beers but then I visited Portland–Mecca of American “sours”. Portland is home to Cascade Brewing Company. I’d say they are king of the sours. Since then I’ve developed a taste for a good sour and Duchesse de Bourgogne is a good sour. Classified as a Flanders Red Ale this sour is outstanding. Like most Belgian Red beers this beer is a beautiful red color with a light beige head that isn’t impressive. But impressive it becomes. Sour smell and sour taste. Sharp, fruity and tart in the nose and on the tongue. If you want a simple beer stay away from this one. The brew master starts with a basic recipe and then throws it into a barrel for aging. Months of aging. Traditionally oak as this one but the sour industry is branching out to all kinds of aging in all kinds of barrel from all over the world, even Minnesota! And what you end up with is a fascinating sour beer. Smell and taste the apples? Sour no less. Fruity too. Throw in some vanilla and caramels and you’ve got it. This 6%er is very drinkable and rewards the drinker with a sweet smoothness as it goes down. Sours are like no other beers. Hope you find this one enjoyable especially if it’s your first sour. Grade: A
Brett: My good friend Jake unleashed this Belgium beauty on Christmas eve night and what an interesting beer it turned out to be! Duchesse De Bourgogne is far from the norm and great for any novice looking to expand his/her palate. This brew develops its unique qualities both from its special ingredients and resting in huge oak casts for 12-18 months. Apparently, the average age of a Duchesse De Bourgogne is 12 months before it is bottled and enjoyed by you and I.
At first pour, this rich looking beer was dark with a red hue and a perfect 2 finger caramel colored head that just screamed “drink me now dammit.” The smell was fruity and sour with hints of oak. The taste is robust, I mean like zesty fruit and chocolate with a dry sour finish that leaves your mouth asking, what the hell just happened? Interesting stuff…This zesty robust flavor is similar to the experience of chugging Boone’s Farm for the first time when you were 15 years old, but of course way better! This beer is probably not your choice to drink all night, however, you must enjoy this with friends to experience the diversity different beers can bring to the table.
Good brew, great experience … thanks Jake! Grade B+