Brew Review

Beer Review – Ichtegem’s Grand Cru

Ichtegem Grand Cru

To further my education on sours, I have followed G-Lo’s lead and picked up the Monk’s Cafe Flemish Sour Ale, the Cuvée des Jacobins Flemish Sour Ale, the Duchesse De Bourgogne Flemish Red Ale and the Rodenbach Original. Some of this education has been met with great success (The Duchesse and the Rodenbach) and some has been met with a mixed review (The Monk’s was a little to cherry and the Jacobins was too tart for me). Recently, after meeting G-Lo for lunch, I stopped in the Foodery and found a bottle of Ichtegem’s Grand Cru and thought I would further my education. The Ichtegem’s Grand Cru is brewed by the Belgian brewer, Brouwerij Strubbe located in Ichtegem, Belgium. The brewer falls under the umbrella of brands within the B. United International portfolio.

While the first line on the label suggested that this was a Flemish Red Ale, I was intrigued by the Oud Bruin label at the bottom. A quick check at Beer Advocate confirmed that this was not the same as a Flemish or Flanders Red Ale but a different style.  Here is what Beer Advocate has to say about this style:

Oud Bruins, not restricted to, but concentrated in Flanders, are light to medium-bodied, deep copper to brown in colour. They are extremely varied, characterized by a slight vinegar or lactic sourness and spiciness to smooth and sweet. A fruity-estery character is apparent with no hop flavor or aroma. Low to medium bitterness. Very small quantities of diacetyl are acceptable. Roasted malt character in aroma and flavor is acceptable, at low levels. Oak-like or woody characters may be pleasantly integrated into overall palate. Typically old and new Brown ales are blended, like Lambics.

Here is what B. United International has to say about the Grand Cru:

Ichtegem’s grand cru is a Flemish red ale. This unique style of beer is brewed as two separate beers, that are blended together to form the final product. Similar to the lambic geuze, one beer is brewed to be aged in oak barrels. This beer is aged for two years, where exposure to oxygen, the wood of the barrels, and naturally occurring microflora alter its flavor, making it dry and sharp with an acidic tang. The second half of the equation is a sweet young beer, brewed before blending, that the brewer uses to balance the beer to his specifications. The Ichtegem’s grand cru is nutty, malty, and has a subtle dark cherry tang to it that balances it beautifully.

I found this beer to be…

  • Appearance: A ruby-tinged brown with lots of slowly dissipating, fluffy foam.
  • Aroma: Sugary sweet with sour cherries and balsamic vinegar.
  • Taste: Sweet malt and then a tart, tart blast followed by a sweet and slightly metallic dry finish.
  • ABV: 6.5%

The Ichtegem’s was pretty tart but I found this to be very drinkable. Either my tastes are expanding or this one was just balanced enough to give me enough sweetness to counteract the tartness. I think I liked the Rodenbach and the Duchesse better but this was a good effort.

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