Feature photo by ykjc9
February is a month of love and is gladly accepted after this cold and blizzardy Chicago January. This month is perfect for grabbing a beer to split with a loved one. So, my recommendation this month isn’t a big hoppy one; it’s a beer I believe even those who don’t drink beer will like. Very complex and appealing to even the most discerning palette, February’s Beer of the Month is Duchesse de Bourgogne by Brouwerij Verhaeghe.
This is a Belgian, what’s called a Flanders Red Ale. It’s also very old…literally. A Bud light is a very fresh beer. In fact, it is recommended to be drunk within 110 days of being produced. The Duchesse is produced and fermented, then aged for 18 months in an oak barrel. It doesn’t even leave the cellar shy of a year and a half!
After aging, it’s blended back with an 8-month-old beer and bottled. The aging allows the beer to absorb flavors from the oak. It also sours the beer. And when I say sour, I mean in a good way. Don’t think bad milk; think good cheese. The aging helps bring about complexity and adds the characteristic sourness tasted in a Flanders Red.
Topping itself with a small, off-white head, this garnet liquid fills your glass, indicating what sets this Red apart: aroma. Filling the air with hints of vinegar and a light fruitiness, the aroma might make your mouth water. At least it did for me, because I know what awaits for me.
Immediately you’ll notice the effervescence of this ale with a flurry of bubbles rising to the top. This level of carbonation increases the aroma, and it also provides a dry, prickly sensation on the tongue. Next is the slight malt flavor and a bit of candy sweetness. Tart, fruity, and acidic, this beer is one I love to drink.
To me, drinking sour beers is almost more a sensation than tasting a flavor. My taste buds explode with hints of sharp acidity and tartness, and the best ones even make my jaw ache.
This is a great beer, and what makes it most appropriate for February’s BOTM is how easily it can be shared with non-beer drinkers. The carbonation almost reminds me of a good prosecco or the sweet tinge of an off-dry Gewürztraminer. Although this beer shares many traits with wines, including it being red in color, it’s not quite as robust as a red might be.
These similarities make it the perfect beer to share with your loved one this Valentine’s Day. And at 6% alcohol by volume, this is a bottle that can be shared easily. Duchesse de Bourgogne can be found at most good beer stores priced at about $10 for a 750ml bottle.
Have you had Duchesse de Bourgogne? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think!