Drunken Speculation

“Eau Rouge” Flanders Rosella Ale

hibiscusIt’s time for the big reveal folks: Drunken Speculation’s beer for the Bacchus Beer Bloggers’ Series (#bacchusbeerbloggersseries). Drum roll please…

It’s there, in the title.

Yep, we jumped on the sour bandwagon but since it normally takes 12 plus months of barrel aging to make a Flanders Red, we’re also dabbling in a bit of enterprising ‘cheating’ under the expert guidance of Ross Kenrick at Bacchus Brewing Co. But just a little bit.

The Flanders Red Ale style is a sour ale, traditionally brewed in Flanders, Belgium. To quote Wikipedia:

Long periods of aging are employed, a year or more, often in oaken barrels, to impart an lactic acid character to the beer Special red malt is used to give the beer its unique color and often the matured beer is blended with a younger batch before bottling to balance and round the character.

Perhaps the most recognisable example, and most easily (a relative term) available here in Australia, is Rodenbach. The sour flavour is caused by a process of mixed fermentation, as explained by I think about beer:

At this point, Rudi explained “Mixed-Fermentation” to me. Standard fermentation is what takes place in the vast majority of beers world-wide where the brewer pitches a controlled culture of lager or ale yeast. Spontaneous fermentation involves letting the ambient yeast settle into the chilled wort to start fermenting on its own. In Mixed-Fermentation, the main fermentation is done with a pitched culture that is a symbiosis of top-fermenting yeast and lactic acid flora.

The interesting tannin notes that come through in Rodenbach comes from sitting in an oak barrel but we – and more importantly, Ross and the five other Brisbane-based Beer Bloggers – weren’t content to wait a year for the beer to be ready so to get things moving, a little lactic acid is required to produce the acidity requisite for our chosen style. Ross also threw in some smoked oak malt, which should add an additional dimension.

pitchingyeast

To further add to the sourness and acidity of the beer, not to mention giving it an Aussie slant, we requested some native flora in the form of rosella (or roselle) be added. Unfortunately, it hadn’t quite arrived by brew day so we steeped a load of hibiscus during the boil instead. To taste, hibiscus is also decently tart and had the added benefit of giving our beer a nice-looking pink hue.

Supposedly our sought-after rosella was to arrive later that day and Ross or Bill would throw it in on our behalf. We’ve not heard anything to the contrary so we’re kinda taking it as gospel that that’s happened. Nevertheless, we’ll throw in the caveat ‘rosella yet to be confirmed’, just in case.

Finally, the name is French for “red water” and borrowed from a famous corner at the Spa Francorchamps motor racing circuit in Belgium. I am aware that Spa is located in Wallonia and the Flemish tend not to speak French but if Cuvée des Jacobins can get away with it, why not us?

In any event, you can look forward to a tart, sour and pretty-looking beer when this baby goes on tap. We’d also like to point out that Flanders Red Ale is hard to find in Brisbane (we’ve found one at Wine+Beer in the CBD) but you can sample ours sometime very soon at a venue near you*, for one night only. As if we needed to sell you any more, right?

*if you live in Brisbane.

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