So you know how when you go to museums the best exhibits are behind the velvet red rope? That’s because they are special. They are different. They are VIPs so to speak of the entire establishment. And they deserve more care than those other shabby pieces tacked onto the wall. In the world of beer, I think the same holds true. Certain brews are hard to come by and do in fact sit behind a velvet rope. De Dolle Oerbier is not one of those brews that gets special attention. I have reviewed this beer before and killed it. It was just plain terrible, however I gave it a second chance recently and I honestly do not think in a blind taste test I could discern it from Westy XII. Talk about going from 0 to 60. Recently, I found a “reserve” brew of Oerbier and thought I had to pull the trigger. Would it be as awful as my first go around, or does it reserve the Reserva title? Time for them numbers…
Appearance: In the light, it has a beautiful red color, however in the dark, it resembles more of a deep, dark mahogany color one would find in Westy XII or the unbarreled aged version of this brew. Head was light khaki in color and stuck around for the majority of the drinking experience. It was also quite frothy like a nitrogen beer would be.
Smell: When I first pried off the cap, the initial waft I got from the bottle was dark candied sugars very similar to Oerbier. When it was in the Teku, completely different story. A large sour and lactic smell emits from the glass with red wine, apples, sour grapes, and lemon zest all making an appearance. Undertones of raisins and dark fruit are in there, but the star is the sour.
Taste: Wow. This brew is really interesting. You first get a big tartness from it, but it’s not mouth puckering sour. The fruits I get are granny smith apples, cherries, sour grapes, and maybe a little raspberry. Those fruits would suggest that this brew is refreshing – and it is to an extent, but there’s a lot behind the initial sour charge that makes this beer a little more interesting.
The body is much more robust than any other sour I’ve had. You can tell that the base beer is one that is heavy on its own and that certainly transfers over into this brew. While I do not get any of the typical flavors from Oerbier in this brew, I do get some lingering sweetness right after the sour charge. The finish on Reserva is very dry and quite oakey, reminiscent of an aged red wine.
Like a wine, the ABV in here is quite high – especially considering this is a sour. At 13%, I have yet to see a sour approach this level. I know Consecration is in double figures as well, but this still has 30% more booze in it than its American counterpart. At the conclusion of the bottle, you do feel it. The carbonation on this brew was just right and complemented not only the sourness, but also the depth of the beer as well.
Overall: I like this beer a lot. I have three more downstairs aging in the cellar – I think that age would just make this beer unreal. I sense that the alcohol would mellow out in its flavor and perhaps more of those dark fruits would come out too. I applaud De Dolle on their efforts with this beer and give it a solid A. This is a sour that’s flying under the radar, but I suggest that you stock up if you see it, even if it’s behind the velvet rope.