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Old 04-09-2011, 01:50 PM   #1
mccann51
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Default Duchesse de Bourgogne tasted... off

A friend and I got a bottle of Duchesse that we tried last night. We were both pretty excited, since this beer is so consistently talked up as a great example of Flanders Red. Admittedly, we have fairly limited experience with sours (we've both had a handful of experiences with sour beers, a few more with Brett beers), but the beer we had last night could not have been the beer everybody reviews so highly. It tasted like a really sweet balsamic vinegarette, and I couldn't get over feeling like I was sipping down salad dressing; I'm pretty open to "different" beers, but this was no good. I found absolutely no redeeming quality in this. It didn't taste like beer at all, all I got was sweet and vinegar.

So, we checked for a date and found it on the cork: "Exp. date 12/09". My impression was this is a beer that's suitable for aging, so if that is an expiration date, as in it's undrinkable past that date, then this beer must be from many years ago to be bad as of Dec 2009. For being unpasteurized, it also seemed way to sweet if this was an over-ripe product. OR, the date is 2012 Sept, in which case maybe some aging would have helped. If this is the case, then my thought is that they should age the beers a bit before releasing them; the product should be at least quaffable when you buy it.

If you guys have any thoughts, or could let me know if this is how the beer tastes, I'd appreciate it. I'm having trouble seeing what I had last night as being such a highly regarded beer, but perhaps I'm missing something.

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Old 04-09-2011, 02:00 PM   #2
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The Duchesse is a pretty sweet beer, and should have some acetic character to it, but it shouldn't overwhelm it. I would recommend trying either of the Rodenbach beers. Plain Rodenbach is similar in character to the Duchesse; the Grand Cru is less sweet and much more sour.

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Old 04-09-2011, 02:48 PM   #3
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That is exactly what duchesse tasted like to me. Completely revolting.

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Old 04-09-2011, 02:58 PM   #4
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That's kind of how Duchesse tastes. It's one of my favorite beers, but it certainly isn't for everybody. If you want something less sweet and more sour, try a bottle of La Folie. If you don't like the vinegar-esqe flavor, Flanders Reds might not be your thing.

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Old 04-09-2011, 03:42 PM   #5
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Like the other posters said, that's just Duchesse. While I like the beer it isn't a favorite because of the sweetness. If I understand correctly, a number of flemish sours are back sweetened with artificial sweeteners that won't ferment in order to make them more palatable, but imo not as good. I think the popularity of Duchesse has to do with it being pretty easy to get in a lot of places, something I don't think you can say about Rodenbach. You may have better luck with some of the American brewers of sours like Jolly Pumpkin. La Roja's a great beer, without the sweetness. Or up in NY you may still find Ommegangs's Zuur, which had a nice subdued all around sour brettyness.

Don't give up on sours, Duchesse is a good entry but there are much better.

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Old 04-09-2011, 09:48 PM   #6
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We actually had the Zuur alongside the Duchesse, and that one was definitely more of what I'd expect from a sour. La Roja was my first SOUR, and it kind of typifies the style for me; Duchesse shared so little with either of those. I'll keep my eye out for La Folie.

Is the date anything to consider?

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Old 04-09-2011, 11:03 PM   #7
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Im partial to supplication and ichtegems. Both flanders/flemish style w over the top sour but enough.malt to carry it...

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Old 04-10-2011, 03:43 AM   #8
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La Folie was my first proper sour. It was too much for me. I do enjoy lambic/gueuze and oud bruins but once you get more sour than that I stop enjoying it.

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Old 04-12-2011, 03:58 PM   #9
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Well part of the problem is you are just thinking of these as SOUR beers. Thats like trying to class all lagers together, or all weissbier. Yes, the Flanders Red IS a type of sour beer...but so are oud brunes, berliner weisse, gueuze, lambics, goze (sp? german answer to gueuze) american wilds, sour blondes......and I think that is setting up a clouded notion before tasting of what a style should be.

I have had several Flanders red and brown, some are just going to be sweet, and that IS to style. So is the vinegar presence, in fact this last weekend at NHC I tasted a flanders red that I thought didn't cut it because it LACKED the vinegar (steward, not a judge so its not like my opinion mattered...but a few judges agreed).

I have tasted some that are sweeter then Duchesse, some that are intensely more sour like La Folie. If what you are looking for is more straight up sourness, I'd step away from the Flanders all together and start looking for American wilds and gueuze. Lindemans Cuvee Rene gueuze is available almost every where, probably more so then Duchesse, and its cheap, should be about 6$ for a 375ml so its cheap enough to try and see if that is more to your liking without breaking the bank by spending double that or more on a Cantillon or Girardin.

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Old 04-14-2011, 01:27 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mccann51 View Post
We actually had the Zuur alongside the Duchesse, and that one was definitely more of what I'd expect from a sour. La Roja was my first SOUR, and it kind of typifies the style for me; Duchesse shared so little with either of those. I'll keep my eye out for La Folie.

Is the date anything to consider?
I'm still fairly new to sour beers, but I wouldn't consider that date to be a problem.

I had La Roja for the first time several weeks ago, and I loved the nose, but I felt that it was too "bretty" and lacked real sourness. Just my opinion though.

Have you had Rodenbach Grand Cru? That's probably my favorite.
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