My wife loves Kasteel Rouge, and she's got a good beer palate. I like it too, and am intrigued enough to give it a try. Thing is, there are issues with most of the recipes I've found, so I've tried to dig deeper.
I've found this info:
- Kasteel itself says "Kasteel Rouge is a blend of Kasteel Donker and cherry liqueur used in the confectionary world."
- http://www.vanhonsebrouck.be/en/kasteelbier-donker.html (a quad!! at 11% ABV)
- There are several recipes here for K-Bruin, which is at least a similar ABV at 12%. A few places online claim K-Bruin and K-Donker are the same beer.
- K-Bruin is about 12% ABV from the recipes I've found
- Bottles of K-Rouge are labeled at 8% ABV
- Many people allege that American/recent K-Rouge is not the same as Euro/original K-Rouge
...and I've found these recipes:
They all seem to just go for the 12% and be happy about it. The "Stolen Rouge" recipe seems to have gone pretty well, and in fact the author just wishes he'd used more cherries, though he doesn't mention using brandy/liqueur, just putting pureed fruit in secondary/tertiary.
I have no problem with making a delicious 12% cherry Donker, but I think 8% would be A) easier to drink responsibly and B) easier to make well, i.e., balanced. Also, as mentioned SWMBO has a good palate, and is a real fan of the K-Rouge bottles we find around here, so I'd like to get as close to that as possible. I have to imagine that 12% versus 8% is a noticeable change, and the additional alcohol heat would be pretty noticeable.
So: how do I square this circle? I suppose if I stabilized or pasteurized a batch of Bruin and backsweetened with sufficient cherry liqueur I might retain the sweetness and character, but I'd think that would be a 14% (or higher!) beer! I could take one of the Bruin recipes and scale it back to 8% (dubbel-ish), but that seems to violate the spirit of the beer somehow.
Any suggestions? BTW, while "mix Duvel with cough syrup" replies may be funny to you, there are many who really enjoy the beer.