August 31, 2014
Mar 21, 2013
11:13 AM

First Draught: Rodenbach Classic, an easy-drinking introduction to sour beer

A great introduction to sour beer (Image: David Ort)

Following last week’s post about Brasserie des Rocs Grand Cru, there was a remarkable unity to the feedback I received. It all seemed to align around the common theme of, “If you think that grand cru beer is good, then you should definitely try Rodenbach Grand Cru.”

As luck would have it, I was reading those messages while on the way to the media announcement for the Canadian launch of Rodenbach Classic on draught. 

It’s the entry-level version (rather than the grand cru) of Rodenbach’s Flemish sour ale that is now available, but this is definitely still a beer worth trying. In Rodenbach’s case, the grand cru designation means that each bottle has about two-thirds oak-aged sour beer balanced with young beer. With the Classic, it’s only a quarter of the older stuff. That means that this beer is only slightly sour, and if the Panil from two weeks ago sounded like it would be a little much for you, take this gentler introduction to sour beer.

Flanders Red is an alternate name for the style, and that makes sense after holding a glass to the light and noticing that the edges of the otherwise medium-brown beer fade to auburn. The aroma of sweet raisins and stewed cherries becomes apparent as the frothy, off-white head dissipates. The first taste is of subtle sourness that continues through to a sweet-tart finish. As the beer warms, the sour edge picks up a bit, but so does the balancing malty sweetness. 

Lightly sour Flemish ales are some of the easiest beers to pair successfully with food. Salads and sandwiches seem like overly general suggestions, but this pairing will work in many cases. The beer’s fine tartness will match the acidity in dressings and condiments; it will contrast with meat and cheese and it will lift fat and salt from the palate between bites. When warmer weather eventually arrives, this Rodenbach will also serve well as a patio sipper on its own.

Rodenbach Classic can be found at Bier Markt locations across Toronto and other venues such as Bar Hop, Volo and Castro’s Lounge.

Rodenbach Classic Sour Flemish Ale, available at various bars

In addition to covering beer, new restaurants and food trucks for Post City, David Ort writes about food and drink for several Toronto publications including Spotlight Toronto and his own site, Food With Legs. For more of his thoughts on food, beer and life in general, follow him on Twitter.

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