To be honest with you, I don’t have much experience with Belgian ales. Before I tried Biere du Boucanier, I hadn’t really had a beer with a sourness like that, but once I did, I wanted more. I bought this with that sourness in mind and, while I wasn’t thrilled with this beer, I got what I was looking for.
Kasteel Rouge is brewed and bottled by Castle Brewery Van Honsebrouck, Belgium, a brewery I wasn’t familiar with at all. The beer itself is a brune, or a brown ale, that has been aged in a barrel for six months, hanging out with some sour cherries. I’m not at all a big fan of fruit in beer (though Samuel Adams’ Blackberry Witbier was interesting and done well), so I was a little appprehensive. But I was counting on the cherries to give me a good dose of chewy sourness.
Poured into a pint glass, this has a loosely packed, one-finger thick pinkish beige head that rests briefly on a deep, red-tinged dark auburn beer. The head dissipated fairly quickly, and the beer itself is quite opaque in the glass, though light coming through the edges of the glass shows off the ruby tinged hue of the beer.
Before I even stuck my nose in the glass, looking for the bouquet, I was greeted by a slightly fruity alcohol aroma wafting out of the glass. Once I actually got my nose down in the glass, I was greeted by a massive tart cherry nose. There are subtle hints of chocolate and molasses there as well, but there is no mistaking the cherry in this beer. It doesn’t smell like a cherry cough syrup though. Here’s hoping it doesn’t taste like one either. What’s nice about the nose is that as you finish the glass and the beer has had sufficient time to warm, the higher alcohol and the fruit combine to make the nose similar to that of a fruity red wine.
This beer is quite carbonated, and medium-full bodied. Chewy, tart cherry flavors make themselves known immediately and for some time, though there are also the subtle chocolate and molasses hints making an appearance. There’s also a slight sourness throughout, which is exactly what I was looking for. The sourness is more noticeable on the finish, and it becomes more prominent as the beer warms. The sourness almost gives the beer a clean finish.
From the strong cherry nose, I was concerned this was going to be a complete bust of a beer. It ended up being a beer I probably won’t purchase again, but I do appreciate it’s craftsmanship and character. It could have come across like cherry cough syrup, but instead was more like a sour cherry soda with touches of beer. Be careful though…the higher alcohol is not that noticeable most of the time you are drinking it, so a few minutes after you finish the alcohol sneaks up and says hello!
It’s well crafted, but unless you want a beer that tastes more like a cherry soda than a beer, I would say no.
Price: $4.99 / 11.2 oz bottle
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