Brouwerij De Leite - Cuvée Oncle Pol
Serving Temperature:50–59° F
Suggested Glassware:Tulip, Chalice, Goblet, or Pinot glass
Brouwerij De Leite’s Cuvée Oncle Pol is described by the brewery as a “soft-sour Flemish red-brown,” and we think it does just a beautiful job of combining the elements of an oak-aged dark beer with those of a fresh pale beer. Cuvée Oncle Pol has never before been sold in the U.S. and is being packaged in 750-ml bottles and imported exclusively for Rare Beer Club members.
At Brouwerij De Leite, brewer Luc’s father was the 7th of 9 children in his family. Luc’s uncle Pol was the 8th in that family, and Luc and his Uncle Pol ultimately built a deep friendship. As he was making a tribute beer to his uncle, Luc and his other family members kept it a secret until the final unveiling day. Uncle Pol arrived at the brewery thinking he was there to just sample a beer—and Luc was able to present him with a bottle of Cuvée Oncle Pol.
Cuvée Oncle Pol pours a deep burgundy. This Flemish Red Brown includes malted barley and wheat, plus oats, which contribute to the well-formed tan foam, showing good retention and lacing that coats the interior of the glass. Ripe, tart cherries and assorted dark fruits lead the aromatics. The sweet-tart impact feels quite fresh, leading with bright red-fruit character.
This is an exceptionally good Flemish sour ale, packed with deep fruit and dynamic tartness. Dates, raisins, and hints of balsamic vinegar lead the secondary notes, to start, and this is just packed with character from the blended beers and the oak-barrel influence. There’s a touch of caramelized sugars throughout, but this still feels on the young side. A velvety, plush feel overall, loaded with mouthwatering acidity, and rich accents of dark caramels, brown sugar, lemony citrus, and plenty of cherries. This is one of the most lively examples of this style we’ve tried in recent memories. Delicious, easy to get into, with a satisfying acidity.
Cuvée Oncle Pol is fit for a bit of additional aging, though we find it rather nicely rounded with just the touch of caramelization as is. For food pairings, it’s hard to go wrong with pork cheeks made with Cuvée Oncle Pol itself (should you have an extra bottle). The brewery has a recipe under the Food Pairings section of their website incorporating dried apricots, thyme, bay leaves, cinnamon, star anise, and cloves: deleite.be/en/foodparing/detail-9.html
Brouwerij De Leite brewer and founder Luc Vermeersch is very much into traditional crafts, at one point installing a bread oven and 30-liter brewery into his garden house in the late ‘90s. He had bought the brewing equipment from a manufacturer in Finland, who had given him one weekend in training before setting him off on his own. After ten years of self study and perfecting test batches, Luc enrolled in a one-year brewing program, during which time he’d also be developing plans for a larger brewery and ordering parts for the eventual installation. Brouwerij De Leite would ultimately be established in April 2008.
In fact, the first brewery installation was finished before Luc finished the brewing course. At the time, the brewery could produce a very modest 500 liters of beer at once (or a little over four U.S. barrels, i.e. eight full-size kegs), with a system that included a brew kettle, hot water tank, and a yeast and lagering tank. Early on they’d brew two batches, once or twice monthly for the first three years, as demand gradually increased. The brewery expanded in early 2011, adding a larger kettle and major upgrades to their tank storage—a significant boost.
Brouwerij De Leite would continue to improve and expand its operations in the years that would follow: adding a new 11,000-liter boiler and fermentation tanks, plus a new bottling line in 2018. The latter allowed the brewery to now bottle on-site instead of having to use an outside bottling facility. 2011 brought the delivery of fourteen 220-liter wooden wine barrels from France’s Médoc region, allowing Luc to fulfill his dream of producing a series of cuvée beers on-site—including this month’s featured Cuvée Oncle Pol. The brewery has continued to expand its barrel program in subsequent years, yielding some exceptional sour releases.
Should you be visiting the delightful country of Belgium, you should swing by to sample the latest releases at Brouwerij De Leite. You can find the latest visitor and tour-reservation info at the brewery’s website at www.deleite.be, or by contacting the brewery at [email protected]. Guided tours with brewery tastings are available if you’re traveling as part of a larger group.
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