Friday, November 4, 2011

De Proef Brouwerij and Terrapin Beer Company Monstre Rouge

Over the past year, I have reviewed a couple of collaboration beers, such as the El Camino (Un)Real Black Ale and the Saison du Buff.   These beers involved the collaboration of American craft brewers, who banded together to test the limits of craft brewing and to produce a beer that has not been seen before. 

This time, the collaboration goes international, with brewer Brian "Spike" Buckowski from Terrapin Beer Company in Athens, Georgia and Dirk Naudts from De Proef Brouwerij in Locristi, Belgium.  These brewers decided to test the limits of not just any beer style, but the Flanders Red Ale.

The Flanders Red Ale is a Belgian sour ale from West Flanders.  The beer is aged for up to two years in oak barrels, where the resident bacteria work their magic to "sour" the beer.  In the past, it was common for Belgian brewers to blend in some younger beer with the old beer to balance the acidity and sourness.

The Monstre Rouge -- or Red Monster -- is an Imperial Flanders Red Ale.  According to the label, the Monstre Rouge is based off of Terrapin's Big Hoppy Monster recipe.  This particular beer also uses Spike's favorite ingredient (rye malt), along with a lot of crystal and Munich malts, and a Brettanomyces yeast strain.  After the brewing process, the beer is aged with toasted American oak. 

Both the aroma and the taste of this beer prominently feature cherries and dark cherries.  The taste of the beer also heavily emphasizes the alcohol and, as the beer warms, it hearkens to wines or liqueur.  In terms of the taste, this Flanders Red Ale is very similar to a barleywine.  Only the sourness provides a casual reminder that one is drinking a Flanders Red Ale rather than a British barleywine.

I found this beer at a local wine and beer store. Beers from Terrapin and de Proef are a little hard to find around where I live, but, if you like trying different beers, it may be worth the search.


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