Belgium's Great Beers
Understanding the styles
The world-classic beers of the Rodenbach brewery, and several similar products from competitors, mainly in West Flanders, are a distinct style without a name. They are more sharply acidic, leaner, more reddish, half-brothers to the Brown Beers of East Flanders, with the additional difference that they are often filtered and pasteurised. Their sharpness makes them perhaps the most quenching beers in the world, and their acidity renders them very food-friendly. The sharp acidity, and some of the colour, derives from aging in large, fixed, wooden tuns. Rodenbach, in Roeselare, has ten or eleven halls full of these tuns. There is nothing comparable in any brewery elsewhere in the world, and the whole establishment is a temple of industrial archaeology. The brewery's Rodenbach Grand Cru (5.2-5.6abv) is aged for between 18 months and two years or more. The regular Rodenbach Bier (4.6-5.0abv) is a blend containing some younger beer. Rodenbach Alexander (5.2-5.6abv) is sweetened with cherry essence. The Rodenbach beers have a distinct passion-fruit character. Rivals include the more chocolatey Petrus Oud Bruin; the tart Bellegems Bruin; the smoother Bourgogne des Flandres; the slightly lactic Bios Vlaamse Bourgogne; the fruity Vichtenaar; and the rich Duchesse de Bourgogne.
Restaurant in producing area: In Roeselare, Den Haselt (53 Diksmuidse Steenweg, 12am-2pm and 6.30pm-10pm, closed Tuesday enenings and Wednesdays, tel 051-225240) is an haute cuisine restaurant, using the Rodenbach range as an accompaniment and an ingredient.