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Flanders Red Ale

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Flanders Red Ale is a unique Belgian beer style distinguished by its red color and by the sharp, sour, and tart flavors derived from a variety of yeast and bacteria used in their fermentation. Flanders Red Ale is one of the few beer styles in which an acetic acid character is appropriate to the style; most examples also undergo long aging in oak barrels and blended before bottling.

Contents

History of Flanders Red Ale

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Brewing Flanders Red Ale

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Competition Styles

The BJCP recognizes Flanders Red Ale as a separate category; the GABF has a single category for Flanders Red and Oud Bruin.

BJCP Style Guidelines

Flanders Red Ale

17B. Flanders Red Ale Vital Statistics
BJCP Style Guideline Definition (2004)
IBUs: 15-25 SRM: 10-16 OG: 1.046-1.054 FG: 1.008-1.016 ABV: 5-5.5
Aroma: Complex fruitiness with complementary malt. Fruitiness is high, and reminiscent of black cherries, oranges, plums or red currants. There is often some vanilla and/or chocolate notes. Spicy phenols can be present in low amounts for complexity. The sour, acidic aroma ranges from complementary to intense. No hop aroma. Diacetyl is perceived only in very minor quantities, if at all, as a complementary aroma.
Appearance: Deep red, burgundy to reddish-brown in color. Good clarity. Average to good head retention.
Flavor: Complex fruitiness with complementary malt. Fruitiness is high, and reminiscent of black cherries, oranges, plums or red currants. There is often some vanilla and/or chocolate notes. Spicy phenols can be present in low amounts for complexity. The sour, acidic aroma ranges from complementary to intense. No hop aroma. Diacetyl is perceived only in very minor quantities, if at all, as a complementary aroma.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied. Low to medium carbonation. Low to medium astringency, like a well-aged red wine, often with a prickly acidity. Deceivingly light and crisp on the palate although a somewhat sweet finish is not uncommon.
Overall Impression: Complex fruitiness with complementary malt. Fruitiness is high, and reminiscent of black cherries, oranges, plums or red currants. There is often some vanilla and/or chocolate notes. Spicy phenols can be present in low amounts for complexity. The sour, acidic aroma ranges from complementary to intense. No hop aroma. Diacetyl is perceived only in very minor quantities, if at all, as a complementary aroma.
History: The indigenous beer of West Flanders, typified by the products of the Rodenbach brewery, established in 1820 in West Flanders but reflective of earlier brewing traditions. The beer is aged for up to two years, often in huge oaken barrels which contain the resident bacteria necessary to sour the beer. It was once common in Belgium and England to blend old beer with young to balance the sourness and acidity found in aged beer. While blending of batches for consistency is now common among larger breweries, this type of blending is a fading art.
Comments: Long aging and blending of young and well-aged beer often occurs, adding to the smoothness and complexity, though the aged product is sometimes released as a connoisseur's beer. Known as the Burgundy of Belgium, it is more wine-like than any other beer style. The reddish color is a product of the malt although an extended, less-than-rolling portion of the boil may help add an attractive Burgundy hue. Aging will also darken the beer. The Flanders red is more acetic and the fruity flavors more reminiscent of a red wine than an Oud Bruin.
Ingredients: A base of Vienna and/or Munich malts and a small amount of Special B are used with up to 20% flaked corn or corn grits. Low alpha acid continental or British hops are commonly used (avoid high alpha or distinctive American hops). Saccharomyces, Lactobacillus and Brettanomyces (and acetobacters) contribute to the fermentation and eventual flavor.
Commercial Examples: Rodenbach Klassiek, Rodenbach Grand Cru, Bellegems Bruin, Duchesse de Bourgogne, New Belgium La Folie, Petrus Oud Bruin, Southampton Publick House Flanders Red Ale, Verhaege Vichtenaar

GABF Style Listings

Belgian Style Flanders/Oud Bruin or Oud Red Ale

60D. Belgian Style Flanders/Oud Bruin or Oud Red Ale
GABF Style Listing (2007)
This light- to medium-bodied deep copper to brown ale is characterized by a slight to strong lactic sourness and spiciness. A fruity-estery character is apparent with no hop flavor or aroma. Flanders brown ales have low to medium bitterness. Very small quantities of diacetyl are acceptable. Roasted malt character in aroma and flavor is acceptable at low levels. Oak like or woody characters may be pleasantly integrated into overall palate. Chill haze is acceptable at low serving temperatures. Some versions may be more highly carbonated and, when bottle conditioned, may appear cloudy (yeast) when served.
Original Gravity (ºPlato): 1.044-1.056 (11-14 ºPlato)
Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (ºPlato): 1.008-1.016 (2-4 ºPlato)
Alcohol by Weight (Volume): 3.8-4.4% (4.8-5.2%)
Bitterness (IBU): 15-25
Color SRM (EBC): 12-20 (24-40 EBC)