Beer Style of the Month (April 2022)

Flanders Red Ale

The beer style of the month for April 2022 is Flanders Red Ale. Flanders Red is a sour ale historically brewed in Flanders, Belgium. It is co-fermented with other organisms, typically Lactobacillus, to produce its characteristic sour flavor. As the name implies, Flanders Red typically has a burgundy to reddish-brown appearance with a pale tan head. Malt and hop flavor and aroma are usually very minimal, giving way to fruity esters and lactic bitterness.

“Malty flavors range from complementary to prominent, and often have a soft toasty-rich quality”

The Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) describes the flavor as, “intense fruitiness commonly includes plum, orange, black cherry or red currant flavors. A mild vanilla and/or chocolate character is often present. Spicy phenols can be present in low amounts for complexity. Sour flavor ranges from complementary to intense, and can have an acidic bite. Malty flavors range from complementary to prominent, and often have a soft toasty-rich quality. Generally as the sour character increases, the malt character blends to more of a background flavor (and vice versa). No hop flavor. Restrained hop bitterness. An acidic, tannic bitterness is often present in low to moderate amounts, and adds an aged red wine-like character and finish. Prominent vinegary acetic character is inappropriate. Diacetyl is perceived only in very minor quantities, if at all, as a complementary flavor. Balanced to the malt side, but dominated by the fruity, sour, wine-like impression.”

A few fine examples of Flanders Red Ale…

While I could find a couple hundred examples of Flanders Red Ale available around the world, below are a few authentic, commercially available examples:

  • CuvĂ©e des Jacobins Rouge
  • Duchesse de Bourgogne
  • Rodenbach Grand Cru
  • Rodenbach Klassiek
  • Vichtenaar Flemish Ale

It’s probably safe to say that Flanders Red Ale may not be suitable for everybody, though if you’re a fan of sour beers this style will certainly be appealing. I personally like that the sour flavor isn’t the “funky” variety you might find in a saison or farmhouse style, but it’s also not overly fruity like the kettle sours that have exploded in popularity. Sometimes it’s nice not to drink an alcoholic smoothie in a can and a Flanders Red Ale fits the bill nicely!