I'm not a big fan of the Belgian sour beers. Although I have, over the years gained an appreciation for the unique qualities that they offer, I still find that it is a rare occasion that I imbibe in the funky offerings of that region of the world.
As a new brewer I was perplexed at the pure joy that would appear on the faces of fellow brewers that considered these beers to be among the best the world had to offer. I would turn up my nose in disgust at the thought of sampling a bottle and beg them for a simple explanation for their odd preference. At the time, they couldn't provide me with a satisfactory answer. Mostly because I wouldn't listen. Now, I think I understand. Over time I have sampled an odd assortment and what I like about the sour beers is the complexity of the flavors, the unique dimensions that the bacteria brings to the blend and how these beers surprisingly satisfy and quench my thirst.
In the case of the subject of this post, the Duchesse De Bourgogne, I look beyond the initial "in your face" apple vinegar, acidic flavor. I can enjoy the way my glands release a dose of saliva with that initial tart cidery sip and the dark dried fruit and caramel sweetness comes to the forefront. My mouth soon dries out and asks for another sip to repeat the experience. The barnyardy, wet horse blanket flavors of gueuse are not present in this beer but for some inexplicable reason my tastebud search it out like flashlights in the darkness of the sour.
This is a good beer to offer the uninitiated, although my wife's face puckered up with aversion when I asked her "taste this and tell me what you think!".
In the beer tastings that I conduct, I like to begin with a beer like the Duchesses when sampling the Belgians before advancing into the depths of something like a gueuse. It has just the right amount of the unusual balanced with the familiar, that can introduce someone into an entirely new region of the beer kingdom. A door opener into the realm of funky.
For more on this beer and the brewery it comes from go
Are you a sour beer fan? Leave a comment.