Sour Times: The Flanders Red

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Destihl Flanders Red, from the Wild Sour series (brewed in Bloomington, IL)

Aaaaaaaaand…welcome back. Been on a bit of a sours kick lately (as attested by the jubilant candy-ness pictured above.) Last two weeks I’ve covered gose and Berliner Weiss – time now to move into the Low Country of Flanders to partake in some rewilded ales. None of that pasteurized stuff here, though lately that’s been a tactic some brewers deploy to keep balance between the austere tannins that multiply the tartness factor, and the sweet, winey notes of the Flanders Red style. It’s a complex, love-or-leave gambit.

First, there’s this:

In addition to being found in the taste buds, the researchers discovered that the sour protein receptor, PKD2L1, is also found along the entire length of the spinal cord in nerve cells that surround and reach into the central canal. Because sourness is a reflection of the acidity, or the pH of a solution, the researchers suspected that the spinal neurons with PKD2L1 might be responsible for monitoring the pH of the cerebrospinal fluid.

Time to swap out some of those free radicals, and clear the fridge out of boring, oxidizing lagers.

Then there’s this – Hyperallergic’s “Beer with a Painter” series. Cool stuff. Incidentally, the painter interviewed, Henry Taylor, is seen at the Getty Museum focusing on James Ensor’s masterwork.

Ensor’s from Belgium. West Flanders, actually – home of many of the breweries highlighted in this post. Raise a glass (of sour ale, naturally) and sit and stare; understand the man.

Cuvee des Jacobins, out of Bellegem-Kortrijk in West Flanders, Belgium. Poured into the trusty forever-simultaneously-half-empty-and-full Mets glass in July 2012.

Reminded of those Canadian sour key candies I used to stuff in my mouth while playing NARC in the arcades as a kid. Should come riding on the ducking shoulders of easy drunks as warning – it’s fairly punchy, and almost as puckersome as an LIT at Barfly’s in Austin, TX.


Vaanderghinste Bruin, also out of Bellegem-Kortrijk, liquidating cravings on the back deck of our old haunt on John Street (Bound Brook, NJ.)

Tomorrow, I graduate (This was back in May, ’13). The feeling is pleasant, to be done (It…took a long time). The beer is to celebrate the moment by quickening the blood. It is an unexpectedly tart beer, in the best of ways. Refined pruniness, tartened fruit roll-up glossiness, if only the glossy side were reproduced in liquid, spontaneously fermented form – though what the hell was I thinking, charring meat with this? An unlikely pairing.

Silly Sour Ale, forgettable from early 2015.

Putrid. Like when kvass repeats on you. That’s inescapably personal; y’all probably have no idea what I’m raving about.

No thanks, silly sour people.

New Belgium La Folie (Fort Collins, CO), lipsmacked in October, 2015 (Lincoln, NE)

Been waiting for an evening by the backyard firepit to crack open this bomber…cheers to the subtle dislocations of October, to the malty, vinegary, malt vinegary tenebrism of the wood-aged sour style. The stuff of mahogany bar tops and waning evening light.

Mikkeller Spontan Beetroot, brewed somewhere, enjoyed here (Thanksgiving, 2015.)

Beetrootbeer, improved by the presence of wild yeasts from oak barrels.

Or…in my quest for weird niche flavors, this is the nicest nichest niche I’ve tried yet. Basically a lambic version of earthy, turnip juicy şalgam beer. I’m over the moon. I must be from Shelbyville.

Ichtegem’s Grand Cru (Brouwerij Strubbe, Ichtegem, Belgium), sipped on in February 2012 (Bound Brook, NJ)

The beer is called Ichtegem’s. And that’s somewhat onomonopoeic word. Deep internal muskiness, lacto schooled and barrel matured.


5 thoughts on “Sour Times: The Flanders Red

  1. Enjoy your descriptions of the many different beers. I cannot believe I have not had any. I’ll go to Beverage Mart when I want something different. They have the most varity of brews I’ve ever seen, they let u taste before you buy. I am positive they will have most of these sour beers. I enjoy the descriptions, a good writer puts you there. I get what you what you mean about the Silly Sour ale…..I think. Well done Jim!


    1. Awesome site yourself! You’re out in Astoria, huh? I grew up in Flushing, and ultimately wound up here in Lincoln, Nebraska. A few years ago, my wife and I were living in NJ, and we’d put together city walks of the outer boroughs and Manhattan. Astoria’s a weird, cool place. If there’s anywhere to load up on third rate sub-regional Ukrainian beer and cevapci, that’s the place!!! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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