Flanders reds are considered sours. When you look them up in the BJCP style book there they set under the European Sour category. Tasting the Rodenbach Alexander 2017 makes me question the nomenclature used to describe these beers. This was beer tasted off draft and not from a bottle.
When well made, Flanders reds aren’t sour. They are tart and maybe slightly puckering like a wine, but they aren’t sour. At least not sour in the way people expect sours to be after the introduction of kettle sours to the American craft beer landscape.
The Alexander pours a nice reddish-brown color. It has a little haziness to it and a thin off-white head. The carbonation is not obvious on the pour.
The aroma wraps around you. I get cherry, oak, and hints of vanilla, apricot, and apple. There is enough vinegar in the aroma to remind you it is supposed to be a sour, but it doesn’t overwhelm the nose.
This isn’t a beer trying to hide anything, so the taste runs right along with the aroma. There is the cherry, oak, vanilla, plum, and hints of apricot and apple. The acid gives it a tartness, not a puckering sour taste along with a welcome dryness that works with the carbonation to make you want to explore the complexity in the next sip. That is the beauty of a complex beer like this, each taste provides you something different. This is a beer that benefits from “breathing” outside of the bottle. It changes ever so slightly as it warms in the glass and in your mouth.
This is one of the beers you drink to remember how wonderful and interesting this thing we call craft beer is.
Suggested food pairings from my trusted tasting partner: anchovies, spicy ramen, dashi broth, or Korean barbecue.