Brouwerij Timmermans - Bourgogne des Flandres Brune
Serving Temperature:45-55° F
Suggested Glassware:Tulip, Chalice, or Flute
Note: Even if you usually like drinking from the bottle, this is a style that requires a glass, like a wine. In fact, Bourgogne des Flandres means "Burgundy of Flanders", and the comparison to wine is appropriate as Oud Bruins and Flemish Red Ales are often considered the most wine-like of beers due to their prominent acidity and complex fruity notes, and this brew is no exception. On the pour expect quite a dark brown hue with reddish highlights topped with a robust crop of foam. Fruity notes abound on the nose; look for a somewhat candied cherry and apple character with touches of cola, grape skin, and port wine. We got notes of caramel and hints of brown bread, along with an ever-so-slight vinous acidic impression and a lightly phenolic, spicy edge. On the palate things get even more interesting as the beer opens with a pronounced sweetness, but remarkably the lambic tartness begins immediately to envelop the beer, starting at the sides of the tongue and building until the sweetness is balanced out and even overshadowed. Expect prominent fruity esters along with hints of oak and light sherry-like oxidation notes from its extended stay in barrels. The brewery recommends serving at about 40° F, but we really prefer this style much less cold. This writer prefers 50-55° F, but try it at different temps and see what you prefer. Try pairing this brew with red meat - especially game - perhaps with a fruit reduction sauce. Roquefort and Camembert are excellent too. Cheers!
Brouwerij Timmermans began in 1702 in the town of Itterbeek, not far from Brussels. Known at the time as the Mölleken, or the Mole Brewery, it also boasted a malt-house, a farm, an orchard, and a café. In the early 1900s, 6th generation brewer Paul Van Cutsem renamed the brewery after his father-in-law, 5th generation brewer Frans Timmermans - who coincidentally also served as mayor of Itterbeek and served his post not from the town hall, but from his brewery. In 1985, Timmermans took over the brewing of Bourgogne des Flandres, a recipe of the Van Houtryve family whose brewing legacy in Bruges dates back to 1765.
In 1993 the John Martin Company took control of Brouwerij Timmermans and added their beers to Martin's "Finest Beers Selection". Started by British master brewer John Martin around 1909 upon his settling in Belgium, the company has always had a focus on fine beers, with traditional Belgian artisan ales like Timmermans not surprisingly a focus.
At over 300 years old, Timmermans is today the oldest lambic brewer in the world. Lambic is a beer style that many Americans associate with heavily fruited versions such as Lindemans Framboise (raspberry), Kriek (cherry), and Pêche (peach). However, lambic is not specifically a fruit beer style and many iterations exist that are not fruited. The key to lambic production is spontaneous fermentation, whereby the unfermented beer is left open to the air, which inoculates it with two strains of wild Brettanomyces yeast which lend a somewhat funky and tart (in fact, sometimes quite sour) character to the beer. The region around Brussels is unique in that these yeasts are found just floating on the wind, lending a sense of terroir to the beer produced there that is unlike anything else in the world.
Today, Timmermans' flagship beers are its Oude Gueuze, a traditional blend of aged and fresh lambic, which is then aged some more and is capable of 20+ years of cellaring, and the aforementioned Bourgogne des Flandres, our featured beer this month. Bourgogne des Flanders is crafted in the Oud Bruin style, and is a blend of lambic aged 2-3 years in oak casks and fresh brown ale (a technique they call "lambic infusion"). The blend is left to age for six more months in oak before bottling.
For more information on the brewery and their lineup of traditional ales, visit www.anthonymartin.be.
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