Brouwerij Rodenbach - Vintage 2012 Barrel No. 170
- ABV: 7%
- Serving Temperature: 50–55° F
- Suggested Glassware: Tulip, Flute, or Pinot Glass
Brewmaster Rudi Ghequire was kind enough to personally sign each bottle that we’re importing of Vintage 2012 as a thank-you specifically to you, our Rare Beer Club members. The result of more than two years of aging under Rudi’s watchful eye, Rodenbach Vintage is unique among Rodenbach’s beers as it is drawn exclusively from one foeder. In the case of this release, it’s lucky barrel number 170, which had been maturing since 2012. Each foeder is its own ecosystem, a mixture of yeasts, funky bacteria, and old wood saturated by the devil’s cut of every beer that came before – which, with as much as 150 years of age on each foeder, is a very long list. When crafting their more common beers, Rodenbach’s brewers blend threads of aged beer from multiple foeders with various quantities of young beer to arrive at a finished product that is remarkably consistent month to month, year to year, decade to decade.
But, Vintage is something special: a snapshot of one beer from one foeder, after more than two years of maturation. Thus “Vintage” is the perfect descriptor for this most individual of products from the producer of the world’s most wine-like of beers.
Expect an attractive, deep, brownish-red color on the pour, capped by plenty of fluffy beige foam. Acetic, vinegary notes are obvious on the nose immediately, with the tart impression melding beautifully with a soft maltiness, prominent wood notes, sour cherries, apple, caramel, and hints of brown sugar and honey. The sharpness of the balsamic-like acidity never seems too sharp as there’s a balancing underlying sweetness apparent as well, creating a sort of sweet & sour sauce impression. The oak foeder has certainly made its presence known, too; the beer presents a refined and somewhat musty woodiness that in some ways seems older than its two years of age—no doubt attributable to the advanced age of the maturation vessel. You can almost smell the brewery’s history.
The beer opens on the palate with a profound fruity tartness that lasts from start to finish. Expect strong notes of apple cider vinegar, sour cherry with a ghostly wisp of raspberry, and a moderate residual sweetness that leads into a mild, vaguely caramel-like impression—all enrobed in an undeniable old, wet, oak-barrel character. Perceived hop bitterness is low to non-existent, with the tannins and tart, wine-like acidity providing more than enough balance to the residual sweetness. This brew finishes with an interesting and lingering grain quality, and at full warmth, the final sour note comes across so incredibly satisfying and mouth-filling it can only be described as savory—while begging you to take another sip.
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