Brew Review

Beer Review – Duchesse De Bourgogne Flemish Red Ale


I’m sure I’ve seen the Duchesse De Bourgogne on the shelves during one of my many beer hunting adventures, but it wasn’t until I read our friend Don’s review of this beer that I made the decision to actually buy a bottle. Since I absolutely enjoyed the Monk’s Cafe Flemish Sour Ale (yet another Don recommendation), I was looking to dive deeper into the beers of Flanders.

Here is what I was able to find out about this beer from D&V International (they import this beer into the US):

Duchesse De Bourgogne from Brouwerij Verhaeghe is the traditional Flemish red ale. This refreshing ale is matured in oak casks; smooth with a rich texture and interplay of passion fruit, and chocolate, and a long, dry and acidic finish. After the first and secondary fermentation, the beer goes for maturation into the oak barrels for 18 months. The final product is a blend of younger 8 months old beer with 18 months old beer. The average age of the Duchesse de Bourgogne before being bottled is 12 months.

It sounds like alot of love goes into the making of this beer. Let’s see if all of their time and effort is worth the trouble…

  • Appearance: Clear, reddish brown color. Half inch head with big, bubbly foam that dissipates slowly. Moderate lacing.
  • Aroma: Sour cherries. Carmelized sugar. Balsamic vinegar reduction.
  • Taste: Well carbonated, with oodles of tiny bubbles that pop and fizz on your tongue. That first taste reminds me of a cherry flavored Sour Patch Kid, i.e. quickly dissipating cane sugar sweetness, followed immediately by ripe, sour cherries. Lots of red wine like tannins take over at mid-palate and lead you to a tart, mouth coating, and somewhat astringent finish.

The Duchesse De Bourgogne is one seriously flavorful beer! I really enjoyed how the sweet and sour elements went back and forth on my palate as I slowly finished off the bottle. And here’s the best part: the flavors actually improved as it came up to room temperature. Overall, I found this to be a well balanced and very session worthy beer. I will definitely be buying this again.

21 replies »

  1. Duchesse was my introduction to sours and I’ve loved it since the first sip. Such a great beer, and not too over-the-top sour like some I’ve had. Very well balanced.

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    • Delightfully weird is the way to describe it. Happy to hear that I steered you in the right direction. Which reminds me… I have a bomber in my father in laws fridge which I must drink. Will be there for dinner tomorrow. Curious to see what he thinks. He’s branching out for sure, though this might be pushing it a bit.

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  2. I’m so glad you just posted this! I had Monk’s Cafe this summer and was so enthralled, and I keep glancing at the Duchesse each time I return to my local liquor store. I was hesitant to get it because (A) I heard it was on the sweet side of sours and (B) it’s really hard to make the jump to get a sour, as they are usually quite expensive compared to other types. I’ll definitely be picking it up now due to this and Don’s post.

    I really like hearing about the finish of sours as well, because I think that’s when some really shine, and it’s really helpful to know how each differs in that respect. (I personally love the very intensely tart ones) I think my next one after the Duchesse will be an Oude Kriek – I was only able to try a few sips of it, but was quite taken aback by it (in a good way).

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    • Thanks for the comment! I too am intrigued by this beer style. It’s just soooo different. Rodenbach Grand Cru is pretty fantastic as well. It’s fun to experiment and find out what you like and don’t like.

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