Meaning the ‘Duchesse of Burgundy’, this beer is recognized as THE regional ale; the benchmark for all beers of that style. Flemish Red Ales are colloquially known as ‘sweet and sours’, or more stylishly described as the ‘Burgundies of Belgium’.
It is made with roasted malts and low bitterness hops. After initial fermentation, the beer is aged in oak barrels. The final beer is a blend of beers aged for 8 and 18 months.
The Duchesse pours ruby red, and the aroma jumps out of the glass. Balsamic vinegar, over-ripe cherries, and sweet caramel malt.
The beer is intended to be consumed at 8-12 degrees, so allow it to warm a little to open up and develop to its full potential. It is a sipper – just like a big red wine.
There is initial fruit sweetness, which is enveloped by the sour vinegar nature. The flavour intriguingly swaps between these two profiles. It is a divisive beer that many will absolutely love, and others will find hard to swallow. There isn’t usually an in between with this style, but it is a staple Belgium style, so one that should be experienced at least.