Rodenbach Grand Cru

Last night I decided to open up a bottle I’ve had sitting around for almost a year – my beloved Rodenbach Grand Cru. It’s currently got a 94 on Beer Advocate.

A few years ago this was the first sour beer I ever had and it’s probably my favorite, despite some great offerings from New Belgium. I came across it while visiting family in New York City and for some reason, a cask of this was available. It was recommended, it was wonderful, and I’ll never look back. While the average palate will probably not like this, I feel like Rodenbach’s Grand Cru is a must for any sour beer fan. Or beer fan in general. With a hope of eliciting some kind of unique experience, I paired it with some assorted greens and a fillet of smoked salmon sent to me by my brother.

The smell is sour cherries with a hint of vinegar. Maybe some very light maltiness or a kind of sour apple, but with this beer, you know exactly what you’re getting. The first time you may have this beer, it’ll definitely taste like vinegar, and it should, kind of. The production of acetic acid that comes with this kind of beer – a flemish brown ale – is essentially the same as what you’d find in regular vinegar. However, after the first few smells/tastes, that should change. It’s just a matter of battling through this initial shock for some beer drinkers. This is not something you’re probably used to.

The taste of the beer was how I remembered and expected. But, I will say, pairing the beer with a smokey fish actually sped up the smell/taste process of the beer. Typically it’ll take me a few sips to get past the vinegar-like taste, but I had that from the get-go with this bottle. It probably helped that I baked the fish for about 10 minutes after drizzling some balsamic vinegar over it and coating it with honey to make a kind of sweet-sour mixture. For this bottle, I skipped past the vinegar taste and went straight to the cherries with a yeast-like uptick at the end of each sip. While most people might not enjoy it, I really like the tartness of the beer. It’s unique in the aggressiveness of it, but after you’ve had it, it’s hard to find another beer like it. I suppose the taste can be compared to cranberry juice in that kind of puckering-your-lips way. I bet if I were to have let this beer really warm up I would’ve got some good oak flavors. I’m not that generous.

While the fish did have an impact on the beer, it wasn’t reciprocated. But that’s OK. I just enjoy having this beer. Any beer lover – adventurous or otherwise – is better off for having tried it.


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