Moulin Rouge, Baton Rouge, or Caractère Rouge? The choice seems easy really. A movie that was best known for its soundtrack, a city where guys wear white, long sleeved, button down shirts tucked into purple shorts while footballing and routing for the ghosts of Jamarcus Russel to come back, or a beer from Belgium with three different fruits aged in oak? Yup, definitely the beer. Rodenbach presents us a beer that is a limited edition Flanders red ale aged in oak barrels with raspberries, cranberries, and sour cherries. Sounds fantastic, but will it deliver? Time for the numbers…
Smell: Basement mustiness, wine, oak, tart berries, and a little candy. It’s a mix between a classic Flanders and sweeter, fruit forward brew.
Taste: My first impressions of this beer is that it’s remarkably complex. The initial sip is sour, however it is immediately balanced out by a sweet berry character. Sweet cherries, over ripened raspberries, and blueberries mellow out the tart, acidic taste pretty quickly. The finish on this brew leans toward the sweet side reminds me a V8 berry juice drink. I never was able to pick up fruit this distinctly in a sour beer; Rodenbach must have packed these barrels to the seams with fruit (as suspected based on color alone). As I continue to drink this bottle, the flavor profile shifts from being primarily sour to primarily sweet. The mouthfeel is a touch thick, especially considering the style, but it doesn’t take away from the brew.
The 7% ABV is absolutely undetectable in the taste and it drinks smoothly for the bigger alcohol. The most notable element of this beer has got to be the balance between sweet and sour. I feel that all sour beers mellow out as you get deeper into the bottle which might be why I get a heavy sweet, candy berried flavor on the back end of this.
Overall: While I am a fan of Caractère Rouge, I think it can be a bit too much. It’s a sipper for sure, so much so that Rodenbach would be better off putting this into a 375mL bottle and pricing it around 12 dollars (rather than $23 for a 750mL). The sweetness from the berries leaves too much of an impact on the palate, especially considering that it’s designed to be a Flemish sour. Because of this, I’d have to give the beer a B+/A-. A good beer indeed, but if I’m drinking a sour beer, I want it to be heavily puckered. I have a couple more of these and I am sure that with a few years of age, I will be a very happy camper. Even Miller
Light Lite wielding frat bros from Louisiana can appreciate that.