Vichtenaar | Brouwerij Verhaeghe

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Brewed by:
Brouwerij Verhaeghe

Style: Flanders Red Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.10%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
The "Vichtenaar" is a beer that is brewed on the basis of deeply burned malt, spicy and fruity hops, yeast and soft water pumped from a well with a depth of 172 m, which is a guarantee of the quality and the purity of the water. After the main fermentation and the second lagering the "Vichtenaar" undergoes a third fermentation in oak casks for several months. The oak casks are large vats with a capacity ranging between 5000 and 25000 liters.
The "Vichtenaar" is a traditional and typical beer for West Flanders, in the Northwest of Belgium. The taste of the "Vichtenaar" can be described as slightly acidic and complex and this through the long fermentation in oak casks. The fresh taste of the "Vichtenaar" makes it a particularly thirst-quenching beer, especially during the summer months.
The "Vichtenaar" is also one of the last old-Flemish red-brown beers which are matured in oak casks and is especially appreciated for its authenticity by the beer connoisseur. In 1958 “Brewery Verhaeghe” obtained for its beer "Vichtenaar" the first prize in the international contest for beers in Ghent.

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Reviews: 227 | Ratings: 444
Photo of nortmand
4.92/5  rDev +25.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours solid brown and clear with a lace forming white head.

Dominant smell is acetic vinegar. Also very vinuous. Chianti dark berry smells. Red wine smells.

Red wine vinegar flavors up front. Turns into a very pleasant tart berry flavor midtongue. Sweet young beer flavors on top of everything. Leaves a sharp pickle sour aftertaste. Funky!

Medium body is accented by the slippery acidity on the tongue. Very lightly tart and very refreshing, worth seeking out.

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Photo of Lnedrive14
4.84/5  rDev +23.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Thank the beer gods (and Bauer Wines) for this one.

It's color is chameleonic. It goes from red, to brown, to darker brown, depending on the light. Whatever it is, it is opaque - relatively thick looking for the style. 1/10" head that remains throughout.

I don't know that this the most complext Flanders out there, but in my opinion, I can't imagine one tasting better than this. Huge vanilla cherry sweetness up front with a strong malt character that keeps the sweetness in check. The oak and vanilla mix amazingly well. The back of the palate is the usual vinegar and wine astringence/tartness that you expect from the style. In that sense, it is no different than others, but it is that up front taste that really impressed me.

Thick, chewy, fluffly. Tough to nail it down, but it seems like a bigger beer than others of the style. Alcohol content is of course low, but this beer quickly penetrates every corner of your mouth and resonates there. The sensation remains for a while as you progress through the various tastes proferred by this sensational brew.

As much as I loved this beer, I don't think I would want more than 2 of them. It is that astringence that would just make it too difficult to drink too much of it.

Only the 3rd beer I have given a 5 in taste to. This one is near perfect once if hits your mouth and I can't imagine finding one i liked better. Sometimes, taste is everything.

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Photo of techdiver
4.8/5  rDev +22.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a clear deep reddish brown with modest head that dissipates quickly.

Nose of sour cherries and malt.

Taste of sweet malt and sour cherries is well balanced and refreshing.

Medium bodied and good carbonation, this style is great on warm days.

Great drinkability for the low ABV and qualities the better brews of this style have as noted.

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Photo of Phatz
4.77/5  rDev +21.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Thanks to beerbeing for recommending that I should try Vichtenaar from the tremendous makers of the Duchesse De Bourgogne, Brouwerij Verhaeghe. This may be even better than the Duchesse since it is all the sour with out the extra sweet sugars. It falls right in the middle of the sour style with plenty of sweetness but not nearly as much as it's sister beer. I must admit it does strikes a chord with me.

Appearance: Pours a burgundy color with a small white head and some lacing.

Smell: Cherries and oak with a caramel bread malt attribute and yeasty sour funk gets my glands salivating.

Taste: It has a pleasant but not intense berry sour with green grapes and brown sugar and nip of acidity in the finish. The long lingering aftertaste the cincher for me. Terrific.

Mouthfeel: A light and lively body apropos for a sour brown.

Drinkability: Down right DANGEROUS! I have to drive a long way to find it for $76 a case but it is worth it. Mmm, gotta love it.

Hope this is helpful.

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Photo of pweis909
4.72/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appears brown, translucent enough to see my fingers grasped around my glass. Thin foam disappears rapidly.

Aroma is initially acetic, vinegar, giving way to malic, apple cider.

Taste is sour up front, sweet in the middle, and sour gain in the finish. The sour notes are definitely reminiscent of cider, only a bit sharper, especially in the finish. The fleeting nature of the sweetness makes it difficult to nail down. It is caramel, almost seems very rich, except for that sour finish.

Mouthfeel seems perfect for this beer, and seems to change in the mouth, thin initially, than begins to feel like it coats the mouth, only to be cleansed by the sour finish, that creates a lingering burn on the tongue.

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Photo of mtrentm
4.67/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a snifter.

A: This flanders red pours a nice coffee brown with hints of red tones to it when held to the light. The head disipates leaving a nice tannish white thin layer of foam with great lacing.

S: The aroma on this beer is amazing! I get a hint of burnt sugar, tones of sour cherries, a little hint of vinegar, & a bit of musky woodiness in the background.

T: This is probably the most flavorful beer I've had in awhile. A very complex beer with flavors of granny smith apples, raspberries, sour cherries, with a nice spicy, woody finish.

M: The mouthfeel on this beer is almost like a champagne...nicely carbonated leaving your palate dry and clean.

D: This is a very drinkable flanders red, if you're into these styles of beer. I like the fact that there isn't a whle lot of vinegar flavors, just a hint in the nose.

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Photo of TheEclecticGent
4.63/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I’ve had this beer many times in bottle at the Brick Store in Decatur, GA. This is my second favorite beer in the world, followed only by Duchesse de Bourgogne. It pours from the bottle into a tulip glass a dark medium brown with a quickly fading head that leaves a fairy ring and a bit of pattering on the top. It has moderate lacing for the first half of the session. The smell is a very sharp vinegar and musk. The smell, however, is much more sour than the flavor. The flavor is a very complex cascade of sweet, sour, carbonation, with brown sugar and dried fruit overtones. The mouthfeel is light to moderate with serious carbonation pricking. It isn’t as drinkable as Duchesse de Bourgogne but it’s a very close second. If Green’s package store would carry this beer I would stock it at my place.

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Photo of evianIPA
4.6/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

11.2 fl oz bottle
Best before 12.02.2016
Opened 26.06.2017

Pours like black currant juice and cola with a white head that disappears to just the rim.

Smells of black currant and strawberry sour candy.
Thick and luscious mouthfeel that coats the mouth with sweetness and some booze in the finish. How isn't this rated higher? Some nail polisher remover in the finish, but hot damn the complexity! Less black currant and strawberry in the taste, and a near perfect balance between sour/sweet/carbonation/intensity.

Roden-what? If you see this, but it!

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Photo of brdc
4.6/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Small capped bottle.

Poured into my Rodenbach Grand Cru tulip, it is clear, dark red, shiny when held against the light, with a nice tan creamy head with great lacing.
Aroma is fruity, yeasty, sugary malts and caramel, and suggests a lot more sourness than you will find.
Perhaps the best balance in all Flanders reds, this one is neither sour and puckering as La Folie, nor sweet as the Duchesse.
Starts fruity and sweet, evolving into caramel, and then some tartness and acidity, as mentioned balancing it quite well but not puckering.
Goes incredibly easy, pleasant and quiet along with the sun coming down; picture perfect!

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Photo of SkeeterHawk
4.58/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I just picked up a 4-pack of this beer at Knightly Spirits in Orlando. I'll review this one and hoard the rest...woo hoo!

Appearance: Pours a clear caramel brown with a off white head of small bubbles that was rather dense in the beginning and was about half the size of its initial height about 30 seconds after the pour. Minutes after the pour, the head was still there and never completely faded into the beer. After drinking the beer, there is a significant amount of lace left on the glass.

Aroma: I initially get a whole lot of complexity from even the cold beer. There is a defined sweet caramel aroma in here as well as noticeable sour notes coming out a clean "sour black cherry" (if there was such a thing). The aromatics are really inviting in this. I get lots of dark fruit like figs and such and in fact there is so much going in in here, I am just going to skip the rest of the aroma for now and come back to it once the beer warms up a bit.

Taste: The flavor follows the aroma pretty closely in that it has lots of toffee-like flavors in here contributing substantial sweetness to the flavor to round out the sourness and make the whole thing support each other. The sourness is there, but with the bold malt-bill, it only enhances the whole experience rather than being the predominant flavor. The finish is slightly balanced toward the sweet in the finish and the flavor left on your palate is almost like you just had a bite of some exotic dessert. The carbonation is definitely spot-on for this beer and makes the beer skate across your palate with enough resonance to let you taste it, but not come across as heavy in any way.

Opinion: This is an outstanding beer! I really like the Duchesse from this brewery and this beer is no slouch by comparison. This one is a bit sweeter than the Duchesse, but the Duchesse is really about the only other beer that I could compare this to. If you like Flanders and sour ales like I do, you will respect the raw intensity of like a Rodenbach, but this beer is significantly more subtle. It is a very well blended beer and I would drink this beer all the time if it was available in my area. We have the Duchesse in Texas now, so I can't complain. Give this one a shot if you like sours or won't be disappointed.

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Photo of dreadnatty08
4.57/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Best by 1/19/09, jeez this thing can age!
Pours a dark ruby red color, borderline mahogany with a nice quarter inch of tan head. Aromas start out richly acetic, lots of vinegar, candy sweetness, vanilla, chocolate, oak, cherries, it's gorgeous. On the palate, things continue to develop. The sourness starts out rich and oaky, fruity, spicy phenols, finishing dry and mellow without being overly tart. Enough sweetness there that the tannic astringency in the end is buffered. Overall its an excellent beer, but I think it still falls short of my other favorites in this style.

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Photo of corby112
4.52/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Serving type: bottle.

Pours a dark brown with burgundy edges and a thin head. Aroma is a bit funky/ sour with lots of oak, wood and vanilla. This is an extremely well balanced beer that is very smooth. The againg in oak gives the roasted malts a perfect balance of sour and sweet. Flavor also consists of oak, vanilla, cherry and berries. Slightly dry refreshing finish.

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Photo of azorie
4.52/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

ahh its sour day at the old homestead:

Poured into a tulip/triple glass at 45f Nice dark ruddy brown, and about 1/4 head that did not last very long , its oak aged and that is what its supposed to do.

Tart and wine like sour blackberry's. Sharp malt and yeast bite. as it warms i get a sour apple note

taste like a oaked aged red wine but more sour. Love the apple/cheery/currents like blend very nice and complex, with the yeast and malt it balances out perfectly in the STYLE. its like a duchesse but more sour.Buttery blend.

low carb, as its Oak aged, medium to thin body

easy to drink paired, with some cheese, we choose a triple cheese brie, its just heaven in a bottle.

One has to have the taste buds for the style of beer. NOT a beer for the non belgain yeast and oak aged, red wine lover.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.5/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Verhaeghe's Vichtenaar nestles nicely between some of the more sour and overly-sweet examples of the Flander's red style. It pours a clear, dark chestnut robe with orange-ruby highlights and a thin head of creamy tan foam. The head drops readily yet somehow manages to maintain a wide collar and whispy surface covering. A few splashes of sticky lace about the goblet add to its appearance. In the nose, a combination of delicate but somewhat sharp, vinous fruit and sweetish malt greets you. It's delicately effervescent on the tongue with a very fine bubbled, slightly elevated carbonation, and it becomes somewhat airy as it crosses the palate. Muted caramel and soft, subtly tart dark skinned fruit (figs, plums, raisins/dark grapes) combine in the flavor, leaving it quite sherry-like. It's fairly intense upfront before fading slowly and seamlessly away into a long-lasting aftertaste that is again, not unlike that of a glass of sherry or port. And that's the beauty of the Flander's red style, the push and pull between the tart and the sweet.. the way the sourness lingers on your lips but the sticky, dull malt lays on your teeth and at the back of the throat. It's quite nicely done and certainly worth trying, although it doesn't have quite the breadth of character that some other examples do.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
4.5/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear but very dark ruby with a light tan head off an aggressive pour. The head falls fast. Nose is a beautiful combination of wood and cherries. Flavor is a great sweetness combined with firm cherry tones. The wood character really meshes with everything else so well that it provides the perfect punctuation. Feel is great. The bubble still kicks me in the back of my mouth after it’s lingered in my mouth for a while. Overall a great drinking experience. Elegant and smooth and well made. Very well worth trying out and having more beyond.

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Photo of DrainBamage
4.49/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours very dark brownish-red color. There is a very thin layer of head that mostly clings to the side. Hard to see the carbonation as it is so dark. The aroma is very strong and is that of whiskey, but with a little fruit. The flavor is extremely complex and is hard to distinguish all the flavors, but has a little whiskey that is a little fruity and tart too. Mouthfeel is smooth and it is lightly carbonated. Drinkability is very high, because you'll have to drink several of these before you can figure out all the aromas and tastes.

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Photo of avalon07
4.47/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured from a bottle to a flute. Had a brownish-red color and a clear consistency. There was a quarter inch of foamy, quickly dissipating head. Good lacing.

S: A strong aroma of cherry, grapes, and a sour vinegary quality.

T: A lively flavor of cherry, a little malt, that same vinegary quality, and an almost champagne-like aspect. The sourness isn't nearly as prevalent as you'd expect. This is a surprisingly fruity beer.

M: Lots of carbonation with a slightly slick finish. Light-bodied, crisp.

D: Drinkable very easy going down. Surprisingly refreshing.

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Photo of DCon
4.47/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bought a 11.2 FL. OZ. bottle of this from The Publican in Chicago, IL for $9. Poured from the Black Labeled bottle w/ Lions & a Crest on the front into a 12oz Tulip Glass. Has Best before 09/03/2013 on the back.

Aroma- Very nice and complexed! The cherries I found in this one were very distant and then had a huge tart punch on the nose. Perfect acidity it seems so far!

Appearance- Pours a 1 finger head that dies fairly quickly. Has a deep and dark reddish/brown colored body with good clarity. Leaves light suds but no lacing.

Flavor- The cherries stayed very distant in the taste as well. Light vanilla flavor and then a ton of tartness on the finish. Bitterness was light and had a extremely dry finish.

Mouthfeel- Medium Bodied, Light Carbonation, Prickles the tongue with acidity but never a sour punch (great characteristic to have in other Sours but not in a Flanders Red). Cherries were left lightly on the palate.

Overall Impression- A very nice Flanders Red! There was never too much sourness or cherry flavor and so this one was easy drinking and I could definitely present this one to anyone of my friends. I could have had another one to see if there was any difference in complexity or flavors. Go for it if in stores! I would like to see how much this one really costs at the retail price.

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Photo of Doomcifer
4.47/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - clear, reddish amber color with a decent off-white head that sticks around, leaving nice lacing along the glassware after each successive sip.

Smell - Balsemic Vinegarrete, green apples, vinegar, tartness, yet sweet, grapes, ...very complex.

Taste - More balsemic vinegarette, and a wide array of fruits from cherries to tart green apples, to raspberries. Sweet and tart but nothing overpowering. I love the Duchesse but this beer is definitely a tad bit better and a lot more easy drinking than it's cousin.

Mouthfeel - Dry finish, tart, not overly carbonated, medium bodied.

Drinkability - Such a delicious and complex beer and @ only 5.1% abv, I could enjoy a few of these very easily. This beer surprised me because I thought the Duchesse was the cream of the crop when it came to Sour Red Flemish Ales, but I actually enjoy this one more. SUPERB.

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Photo of Erdinger2003
4.45/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The head isn't thick, but it doesn't go away completely. The lacing is beautiful and sticks really well. The color is dark to reddish brown. Smell is fruity and sour, very enjoyable. Taste is slightly sweet and less sour. It's almost like sour fruit juice. Mouthfeel is soft and well carbonated. Overall this was very drinkable and nice to have. I will enjoy more of these.

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Photo of Onibubba
4.44/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Cannot believe I am just getting around to reviewing this...Beautiful tawny pour with a nice beige head. Beutiful presentation in my chouffe tulip. Malty sweet sour smell, with a subdued balsamic. Taste is of butterscotch, with just enough of that tart balsamic to prevent it getting too sweet. Light carbonation, very smooth, very drinkable. Possibly my favorite from this brewery.

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Photo of WesWes
4.42/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a ruby red color with a thick frothy offwhite head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is great. It has a smooth, oakey scent that blends well with the sour aroma. It seems to have some maltiness to it. The taste is great also. It has a wonderful malt complexity that is complimented with a refreshing sourness as well as a slight woody finish. It goes down easy and finishes smooth. The mouthfeel is good. It is a medium bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This beer is a real treat. I love the flavor as well as the aroma. It has a subtle sourness that is very enjoyable, unlike some that are too sour to drink.

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Photo of alexgash
4.42/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Rusty amber with caramel brown highlights. Spritzy, rocky, light dirty sand head. Nose explodes with malt vinegar, dates, leather, rotten fruit, and molasses. Is it weird that I like the vinegar and the rotten fruit? Light caramelly sweetness on the periphery; fruity sweet, sorbet-like palate soon turns sour and acidic. Finish is fruity again, with accents of oak and vanilla. The vinegary, sour tang stays a long time though. Light-bodied, highly carbonated/spritzy feel. Very good beer. Thanks to my Boston pals for recommending this one to me!

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Photo of Malted
4.42/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served from a 11.2 oz bottle into a tulip glass.

I recently acquired a small treasure chest of Belgian beers and have become somewhat tired of them after being overexposed to sours and Belgians the last couple of weeks. I opened this one up expecting more of the same… I was happily surprised with this beer.

Appearance- Dark brown with cherry red/brown hi-lights. Thin head that dissipates quickly and leaves little trace it existed down the sides of the glass.

Aroma- Rich with a pungent sour overtone. Smell of fruit and a bit of farm like qualities.

Taste- Surprisingly complex and tasty. The sourness dominates, but it is a mellowed longer acting sourness than some. It hits you over the head lightly with its sourness and you love every second of it. There are also complex finishing notes of oak, spices, and fruit (cherries?).

Mouth feel- Creamy and full.

Drinkability/Overall- A very happy surprise. I could drink a couple of these easy. Overall a very well crafted and balanced beer. The way everything comes together in this beer to give your taste buds a roller coaster of an experience is a work of art. I am hoping I find another Flemish ale in my treasure chest. To keep with the treasure analogy: this was a gem.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.42/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The first sour of the night hits the table. I was not expecting a few of these to show and to be quite honest ended up really rounding out the crowd quite nicely. Served in a nice little tasting glass and consumed on 06/09/10.

The pour was a nice dark ruby color with a small head of off white that sits on top of the glass just right. Settling down after a minute or so reveals a nice little bit of lacing and a well rounded coating of the glass.

Aroma is tart cherries, nice notes here. I love that aroma, not that huge horse funk, but the nice cherry and oak notes that still offer touches of sweetness in them. Really rounds it out nicely and makes for a tremendously pleasing aroma. Had this very close to consecration and the both of them really stood out from the our sours with the nice sweet notes tucked around inside of the deep tartness. Really nice light spices in here now. Currant maybe with touches of grape skins and a rich, subtle tone that is simply to die for. Really well done I have to say. Each sip became easier and easier to drink and I watched the bottle vanish in no time flat.

Overall a really solid ale here, really nicely done with a tremendous bouquet and also depth of flavor. I would love to have this one again any day.

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Vichtenaar from Brouwerij Verhaeghe
Beer rating: 3.92 out of 5 with 444 ratings