Caractère Rouge (Brouwerij Rodenbach)
Style: Flanders Red aged w/macerated cherries, raspberries, and cranberries
From: Roeselare, Belgium
Brewery’s Note: “Rodenbach Caractère Rouge was developed in 2011 in collaboration with top chef Viki Geunes (2 Michelin stars). This exclusive beer is created by adding an extra six months’ fermenting maceration with cherries, raspberries and cranberries to beer that has already undergone two years’ maturation in oak casks. The result is an exceptional Rodenbach with a 7% alcohol by volume. Rodenbach Caractère Rouge is vinous with a very complex, fruity nose of raspberry and cherry combined with notes of wood and caramel. The undertone consists of an aroma of violets, leather and a hint of tobacco. The taste is rather sour but exceptionally pure. With its long, clean aftertaste and its unique combination of delicacy and strength, Rodenbach Caractère Rouge is reminiscent of a crisp Burgundy wine. This noble beer is unique and exclusive. In his restaurant ’t Zilte, Viki Geunes combines this willful beer with his sophisticated gastronomic creations.”
The beer pours a deep, auburn red with some ruby highlights. The beer forms a smooth, perfect and fizzy cap of off-white, sand-dune colored bubbles that are constantly replenished from the torrent below. In body, the beer is dark and nearly opaque, with a deep haze, but in the light it appears clear and clean, though still opaque. On the nose, the beer smells of sweet, acetic vinegar, laced with subtle fruits. On the second sniff, the beer enlightens with raspberries, cranberry tartness, and a thick, strawberry jam note that blends with subtle caramel and salt. It smells like cherry fruit by the foot, except with a truer fruit scent if that makes sense… On the tongue, the beer tastes sweet, with rounding acidity that never fully pops, but helps to add structure and a tart snap to the sip. The sweetness begins as caramelly malt and slowly builds into thick, almost cloying fruit without the sweetness. Below all the other tastes lurks a slight, oaky tannin that fights to dry the tongue, despite the heavy fruit, and leaves the finish dry. In flavor, this is fruit punch with licks of malt vinegar. This loses most of its Flanders Red sense, falling more in the fruited wild ale realm, with flashes of acetic acid reminding us of the beer’s base. Other’s that I drank it with mentioned jello, jam, and Koolaide as flavors that they taste. In the mouth, the beer feels medium plus bodied, with a certain weight to the sip. Carbonation seems mellow, with just a light effervescent scrub, and the overall feel is thick and syrupy with all the macerated fruit. When the beer leaves, the mouth is left wet, yet tingly and dry, with a certain stickiness that makes one smack their lips. In an overall sense, I can’t decide how I feel about the beer. It’s a fruit bomb for sure, but it dries nicely on the close, and sends shocks of rich vinegar. It’s rich and complex and rich, but really is a fruited wild ale, as its Flanders Red side is just a side note to the macerated fruit and acidity. It is delicious fruit juice, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to try it, and I don’t think I’d order it again.