5 Sources of Inspiration for Rodenbach Caractère Rouge

6 Degrees of Fermentation by | Jun 2016 | Issue #113
Illustration by Brett Affrunti

Rodenbach Caractère Rouge | 7.0% ABV | 8 IBU

As the brewmaster at Brouwerij Rodenbach for the last 22 years, Rudi Ghequire has arguably made more sour beer than anyone else in the world. In 2011 he sought input from Michelin-starred chef Viki Geunes of Antwerp’s ‘t Zilte to create a new beer: Caractère Rouge, a Flanders Red aged for an additional six months on cherries, raspberries and cranberries.

From Ghequire:

Growing up, my family was always in the kitchen cooking, so I’ve developed a deep appreciation of food and, of course, sitting down to a good meal with a complementary beverage. For me, beer has always been an essential part of a good meal; a good beer complements the food, taking the whole dining experience to a new level. Rodenbach has many characteristics of a fine wine, not just in how it’s aged, but its complex taste and how well it pairs with food, so when setting out to make Caractère Rouge, we wanted something that would be both refreshing and enhance the dining experience. In keeping with Rodenbach’s history and traditions, we partnered with chef Geunes to craft a unique and flavorful beer that would be welcomed on any table—either at home, or in the finest restaurants—and serve as a “missing link” between beer and wine.

Rodenbach Vintage
We first introduced Rodenbach Vintage to show an expression of the beer from a single year, demonstrating how the beer can evolve depending on when it was brewed. Each vintage is different, but as a whole, the beer becomes somewhat iconic. In creating Caractère Rouge, we started with Vintage liquid as the foundation and built from there.

Indigenous Beers
In many ways, creating Caractère Rouge was a new canvas on which to paint, much like the early brewers before hops were discovered. Flavor was gained from the addition of fruits, herbs and spices. We felt that was great inspiration for Caractère Rouge.

Domaine de la Romanée-Conti La Tâche Grand Cru
Arguably one of the finest wines in the world, Romanée-Conti produces perfectly balanced wines in limited quantities. Pinot Noir grapes typically have sour cherry and raspberry notes in their taste and a clean, refreshing look to them, something we wanted in Caractère Rouge.

Marchesi Antinori – Tignanello
The Antinori family has been crafting wines since the 14th century and has a history of innovation in Tuscany, especially for blending Sangiovese with Bordeaux grapes. Sangiovese is reminiscent of the taste of sour beer; it has great depth of character and a fruity expression that can be found in Caractère Rouge.

Laurent Perrier Cuvée Rosé
Champagne is a sparking wine that evokes a romantic tone as well as a celebratory one, all wrapped up in an elegant package. Laurent Perrier was founded by a cooper, and is one of the original makers of rosé champagne. The coloring and quality of the champagne, along with the elegant feel and taste is what we tried to capture in every bottle of Caractère Rouge.