Duchesse is one of my favourite beers from Belgium, so it was with great delight that I saw last year Verhaeghe had produced two new variants of this great Flanders beer.
This is the Duchesse Choco Cherry variant. To the normal Duchesse, 20kg of fresh Belgian cherries are added to the maturation barrels, along with some chocolate essence.
As always, the Duchesse starts with quite a sharp sourness, but that quickly fades with the softer, fruitier malt character pushing through as the beer opens up. The cherries add a nice fruity character as well as providing a different sour note to the usual balsamic vinegar character. The chocolate is subtle, almost more like cocoa powder than having any sweetness, but is does provide an extra layer of interest, and is balanced quite nicely.
I’m not even going to give the obligatory ‘sour warning’, I mean its almost like a dessert beer. For those still pulling the squint – time to harden up!