The King of All, Sir DUC. Introducing Le DUC (Flanders Red Ale, 7.2%)
Our passion for sour beers is no secret. Since our opening in 2016, we’ve seen a vast array of different sour beer styles, everything from our kettle-soured Gose (Wizard of Gose) to a dry-hopped sour (Blanc). What IS a secret (well, I guess not anymore) is that we’ve spent the last few months working on a particularly special release. This time around, we decided to take a big leap and brew one of our favourite Belgian styles: the Flanders Red Ale, a complex sour known for its oaky character, notes of red berries and wine, and a signature tartness akin to a fruity vinegar. We are psyched to announce that after a full-year in production and some incredible teamwork, this weekend finally sees the release of DUC (Flanders Red Ale, 7.2%).
Helmed by Bandit brewer Stephane, this beer required constant care, a ton of planning, and total dedication from our brewing team. Our brewers’ excitement over this beer has been steady over the last 12 months, with countless tastings and meetings to ensure the final product was nothing short of remarkable. “I remember the very day I first tried a Flanders beer,” Stephane tells us. “It was a Duchesse de Bourgogne that I ordered at a beer bar in Kortrijk about 15 years ago," he adds. So, was it love at first sip for Stephane? "Well, at first I was taken aback by the very round and unusually big bubbles that accumulated on the surface. It was a very unusual sourness for my palate and I really wasn’t into it. Soon after, I had a Rodenbach while on a brewery bike tour, and, not shockingly, I hated it,” he replies. So, what made him want to brew a style that he initially strongly disliked? “I’m a big fan of any food or beverage that your palate learns to appreciate. I believe that people and taste change drastically over time. There are so many things that I love now that I hated as a young man! Over time, I became wild about Flanders Ales and since then I’ve always wanted to brew my own version.”
The brewing process began just over a year ago, with a fairly standard mash that involved a wide array of malts to give the beer its deep amber/ red colour. The beer is fermented not only with the use of Saccharomyces, but also with an addition of other wild yeasts such as Brettanomyces, Pediococcus, and Lactobacillus, which provides the beer with its very distinct sourness. The beer comes from two separate batches that were aged in oak Cabernet barrels for 6 to 12 months. The end result is a blend of three different barrel aged Flanders, some of it comes from a secret "special" and older barrel that adds a layer of "wine vinegar" complexity, and a bit of “fresh” Flanders to smooth out the sourness of the final product. The blending process was challenging and sometimes tedious, but our brewer’s teamwork and daily involvement in the beer’s fine tuning is what makes this beer extra meaningful for us. Well, that and the fact that it's a complete delight to drink.
DUC is a deep dark amber sour beer with strong notes of oak, ripe red fruit, and a slight wine/vinegar complexity. It is available now on tap in our brewpub as well as in our bottle shop.