Let’s take it back to the old school. The year is 2000. Your mom just dropped you off at the mall on a Friday. It’s late. 6:30pm. You are with good friends, and that kid who sits next to you in social studies class who is part of your group, but not quite a friend. You’re ready to catch up with your homies and throw some high fives. Allowance nowadays is only 5 bucks, but maybe your report card came in and dad threw you a 20… all A’s and a B+. Money is still tight, especially if you really want that new Offspring CD at Record Town. You also need to budget some cash to hit up the clearance rack at American Eagle. To save money, you walk by the food court and grab as many free samples of General Tso’s chicken as you can. You’re ready to be the coolest kid in the mall. On your first stroll down to Filene’s, you see some rough and tough juniors… don’t make eye contact. To make matters worse, the dude with the Walkman speed walking just bumped into you… thanks guy, I spent 30 minutes getting ready and you just ruined the scent of my Nautica cologne. To cheer yourself up, you decide to kick it in the most famous candy store in the world, Sweet Factory. You load yourself up with those blue gummy soda bottles, some sour tape, and of course, no trip would be complete without some Mega Warheads Extreme Sour Hard Candy. You know what I’m talking about. Just thinking about those things makes your mouth water.
Wait, I thought this was a beer review? Well friends, if you want a grown up taste of that nostalgia, I urge you to buy Rodenbach’s Grand Cru. This beer packs a punch, not really in its alcohol content, but with its bold sour taste. The brew itself is 6% ABV from Belgium and is aged in oak… for two years! (It’s actually a combination of that super old beer with some younger ale). The beer got me all riled up… and that was just from reading the bottle. After I popped the cork, I was enchanted. Let’s do to numbers:
Appearance: The beer poured a dark drown/deep red color with a light khaki head. Retention of the head did not last for very long, and the beer itself was pretty murky and not all that translucent. Two very similar beers (taste wise) are Petrus’ Aged Pale and Lady of the Woods from Cisco brewers; both of those beers are aged in oak, however are much lighter in appearance than this guy. Two full years in barrels had done a number on this brew, especially in its appearance. The aforementioned beers from Cisco and Petrus tasted quite light, but from the color of this brew, I was curious to see if it would have more body.
Smell: The smell emitting from this Grand Cru was very interesting, but predictable of sour, pecheish beers. The first thing I picked up with the schnoz was intense sour cherries, vinegar, and white wine. Some oak was there, but to be honest, it was very muddled and stifled by stronger scents – its presence was not very strong whatsoever. The beer also gave off some lingering vinegar, mustard, lemony, and very fruity smells. Overall, very tart, very sour.
Taste: Sour. The beer was extremely tart. It had and incredible lactic taste to it, and as in the smell, I could not really get any oak out of the brew at all. Surprising seeing it was bathing in it for two years. The beer tasted like drinking warheads. It had the character of a champagne, but was more tart, and a little more carbonated. As seen it the color, Grand Cru had more body than similar beers like Petrus, the Woods, and Dogfish Festina. It filled you up and was satisfying. Not too many other flavors made their way through, but it truly is a unique beer.
Overall: With its fruity, sour character Rodenbach delivers a brew that will taste unfamiliar to many. If you are expecting a nice malty, hoppy, rich beer, go with something else. I can definitely see people buying this and being let down in a grandiose fashion expecting a yeasty, wheaty Belgian – not the case. For what it is, I give it very high marks. It would make a great summer beer, something more refreshing to remind you of corner stand lemonade. All things considered, I’d give this brew an A-. Certainly, it’s not a beer that I’d bring to a large gathering because it will not have a universal appeal, but it’s one to give those more daring drinkers. The dude with the Walkman would totally be down for a cold one.