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Duchesse De Bourgogne | Brouwerij Verhaeghe

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1,508 Reviews
Duchesse De BourgogneDuchesse De Bourgogne

Brewed by:
Brouwerij Verhaeghe

Style: Flanders Red Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Belgian top-fermented reddish-brown ale, a blend of 8 and 18 months old beers following the careful maturation in oak casks.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 10-15-2001

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Reviews: 1,508 | Ratings: 4,130
Photo of NeroFiddled
4.3/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Carefully poured from a long-standing bottle it's a surprisingly clear, reddish-brown with orange-ish highlights. The light tan head rises up full at first, but thins shortly. The thin cap, however, holds to the end of the serving - no doubt buoyed by effervescent carbonation - and leaves some noteable lace. The aroma is soft with sugary sweet dark fruit (cherry, raspberry, plum) and an array of gentle lactic notes including vinegar, leather, and barnyard. It's also a touch of vegetal character, and the combination of sugar sweet and vinegar leaves it with a note that's oddly similar to ketchup. It's not bad, but it's sweeter, more chalky, and much less sour than many of the examples from the historic town of Oudenaarde. The body is light but with some dextrins, and offers a crisp and zesty mouthfeel from a very fine, effervescent carbonation. The flavor starts with a combination of tart, sharp fruit (raisin, raspberry, prune, currant, sour cherry) and sweetish caramelized sugar at the front of the mouth, leading into a more winey character with a big woody note and sweet maltiness at mid swallow. It finishes a bit chalky and dry, with a light stickiness throughout the mouth and a sweet & tart note on the tip of the tongue - sometimes followed by an earthy, musty and acidic burp. A very good beer in the Oud Bruin style, posessing a solid oak character and good fruitiness, but possibly a touch sweet. Overall, quite enjoyable.

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Photo of chinchill
4.06/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

On tap in Asheville.
I'm surprised to find I haven't rated this before. It's certainly been too long since I've had this. While the strong aroma is no more or less appealing than I recall, the flavor and mouthful are superb and better than remembered.
Mild-moderate tartness with loads of sweet and sour fruits, including cherry and raspberry.
Lively and fairly high but soft and appealing carbonation. Excellent large and dense head.
Overall: a joy.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.58/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Hazy cinnabar with orange highlights and a considerable amount of uprushing carbonation. The small, airysoft, golden beige head has a featureless surface and a less than impressive lifespan. A thin ring of delicate lace indicates the high water mark of the head, and a series of vertical streamers run down to the deflating cap. Although the color of the liquid is great, not much else impresses.

Duchesse is the most vinegar-like beer that I've ever smelled. It isn't overwhelmingly vinegary, but if I caught it in the midst of deterioration, I wouldn't have wanted to pop the cap much farther along. There's also a funky, sour cherry aroma that I find appealing. On repeated sniffs, the cider vinegariness isn't all that bad. If it's that dominant on the palate, though, I smell trouble.

Vinegar is still noticed... and still stops just short of being a deal breaker. I would love to taste DDB fresh so that I wouldn't keep flashing back to coloring Easter eggs as a kid. This bottle is still more than a month away from its 'best by' date, so maybe it's supposed to taste like this. It's puckeringly sour and acidic with sour cherries still running rampant. I'd be amazed if cherries didn't play some role in the brewing process.

As I get deeper into the glass, I can appreciate a fairly significant sweetness that's all the more noticeable because of the medium-full, lightly viscous mouthfeel. The seltzer-like carbonation feels out of place, but it does keep things from bogging down and becoming overly syrupy. It also eliminates much in the way of mouthcoating; the finish is surprisingly clean.

I'm conflicted about Duchesse De Bourgogne. I can taste the outlines of what must be an incredible Flanders red, but this particular bottle tastes like it's on the cusp of the point of no return. Even though it's still drinkable, I'm convinced that the Duchesse and I haven't met in the most optimal of circumstances. I'll keep an eye out and will give a younger, more vivacious version a second review.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.1/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Best Before: 05-12-09.

Appearance: Pours a clear, dark mahogany brown body with a full, frothy, light khaki-colored head. Fair amount of lacing deposited on the way down.

Smell: Sweet-smelling, sugar-coated fruit nose with a big, hearty dose of malt vinegar. Light whiff of an unidentified herbal component.

Taste: Sweet dark caramel maltiness precludes a fruity dose of raspberries and a sugary, lightly tart cherry juice character and with an addition of both aged balsamic and malt vinegars. Squirt of fresh lemon juice. Tiny pinch of cocoa powder. Mild woodiness throughout. Undercurrent of tart acidity, particularly at the end. Long, fruity, crisp finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium-plus carbonation.

Drinkability: Recommended. An enjoyable, tasty, relatively smooth Flemish Red jam-packed with rich fruity complexities.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.41/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from an 11.2oz. bottle into flute glass.

A: The beer is a dark reddish brown color with a medium off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is mostly sour with apples, dark fruit, some chocolate and elements of creaminess and smokiness.

T: The taste is very fruity with a heavy burst of sourness. The initial taste had a nasty metallic bite, but it disappears. The malt character is thin and there’s a mild hops presence. The after-taste is slightly sweet and very tart.

M: Smooth and crisp, light-to-medium body, medium carbonation, dry and sticky finish.

D: Tasty, goes down ok, not very filling, it’s not the type a beer that I could drink consistently, but it’s a good to drink casually if you like the sourness.

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Photo of mikesgroove
3.28/5  rDev -20%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

My very first sour ale. I was not sure what to expect going in, but definatly knew what it was about when it was done!

Poured a deep dark brown, with lots of reddish hints to it, making it almost seem a dull burnt orange in bright light. A huge billowing white head faded quickly, but left a nice film of lace about the top for most of the glass. The smell was probably the strongest I have ever smelled in a beer. Almost knocked me over. Huge flavors of sour grapes and apples, lots of fruity hints in there, and very very strong, really like nothing I have ever smelled. The taste was unbelievably sour. Like sour candy sour, huge flavors, too much for me. Actually made my eyes water with every sip. Very light mouth feel, and great carbonation were nice, and helped it go down smoothly, but was not really my cup of tea. Flavors were big, grapes, apples, peaches, raisins, plums, very very complex and fruity. Overall I did not enjoy it, but I am not sure if this was due t o the style or this particular brew. I will have to try a couple more to get a better feel, but this one was rough on me. I could see how someone would like its deep complex character, just not me.

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Photo of Slatetank
4.57/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I had this at Crush in Lancaster. Served chilled in a wine glass.

A - Dark burgundy w/ small beaded pale tan head. The color has some ruby accents

S - Smells like a mix of sweet and sour w/ worcestershire some wood and spice w/ a sweet cherry and light currant. There is a subtle raspberry note w/ mild dark sugar aroma

M - The feel is slightly candy-like at first w/ a subtle sour and mild fruit texture, slight berry w/ vinous elements and moderate carbonation. The beer finishes on the dry side.

T - The taste of dark and sweet cherry w/ hints of sour berry notes and light brown sugar like a dessert beer quality. The taste has mild lemon rind acidic flavor w/ mild vinous dark grapeskin notes and wild berry w/ mild spice and earthy hints. The taste is complex to say the least with even a tinge of leather and oak.

D - This is a fantastic flanders w/ subtle smooth sour blended with the fruit and sweet notes. The Duchesse stands alone as I have not had a beer quite like her, very drinkable sweet/sour blend and I find this an easy ale to drink but prefer to save it for occasions.

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Photo of womencantsail
4.25/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: The pour is a dark, rich, red color without too much carbonation or head formation.

S: Loads of dark fruit, specifically sour cherries and currants. There is a nice lactic sourness along with a mild vinegar aroma.

T: Almost identical to the nose. A wonderful tart/sourness, but not overpowering. The cherries really come through here as well as a touch of sweet malt.

M: Medium bodied with a high level of carbonation and a crisp, dry finish.

D: I'm still getting used to these sour ales and this is a great one to start on. Nothing overly intense about it, but a nice beer nonetheless.

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Photo of russpowell
3.96/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours garnet with 4 fingers of off white/sand colored head. Insane lacing &healthy head retention

S: Sour, vinergary notes up front that dissipates to not much of anything & then comes back

T: Sweetness & sourness do battle up front, along with serious dryness. Currant/raspberry taste surface along with hints of vinegar and oaky dryness (squared) as this warms. Finishes tart, uber dry, with a tinge of vinegar & a touch of berry sweetness

MF: Sticky with low carbonation.

Drinks all-right would pair well with many meats & fish & even salads. Just not a session ale, but one to ponder & savor by a fire or in a dimly Belgian pub. I prefer rodnebach's grand cru to this, this is a beer universe expander & well worth a try

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Photo of Jason
4.05/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Deep brownish red colour with some haze from both the chill and yeast, tight off white lace with a half decent lace. Soft and slightly sour aroma, dry woody almost nutty back ground. Biting crispness within the light yet effervescent and smooth carbonation. Puckering twang of sourness hits the palate, fruity flavours ride along with this and give suggestions of ripe currant and apple peel. A woody dryness sneaks up and dries the mouth is a split second and clear all residual sweetness. Quite the enjoyable Flemish Red …

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Photo of dbrauneis
4.32/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours an amber to brown with a finger high light tan head that included several large air bubbles in it. There is pretty good head retention and some moderate lacing present on the glass.

S: Aromas of tart dark fruits, sour cherries, and a slight hint of vinegar. Minor amounts of funk are also present as would be expected from the style. Very pleasant overall in aroma.

T: Very complex flavors are present in this beer including sour cherries, apples, pear, and some candy sweetness. The sour flavor persists even after you have finished in a very pleasant manner.

M: Light to medium bodied with quite a bit of carbonation. The sourness makes you tongue pucker.

O: Nice and complex with wonderful tart and sour fruit flavors, extremely enjoyable and a beer that I would highly recommend. I might just have to go out and purchase a couple more of these to keep in the fridge.

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Photo of mdaschaf
3.97/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Review from notes 3/12/11. Thanks to THECPJ for sharing the Duchesse.

A: Color of this beer changes with depth in the glass, there are layers almost, orange, red, and ruby. Small off white head that dissipates quickly and leaves no lacing.

S: Sour and tart, lots of apples and grapes. Also sort of spicy

T: Very tart, some sour cherries, the apples and grapes take sort of a back seat. Some caramel and a little chocolate on the finish.

M: Medium bodied, has a nice crispness, with a dry finish.

O: Good flavors, but it is over the top sour for me, a good sipper, but certainly not something I seeking out to have again.

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Photo of smcolw
4.03/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very red and very clear

Deep malt aromas, lots of cherries. Very close in aroma to a Framboise.

The taste has lots of cherries, quite sweet. So much so that I re-read the bottle to see if it was infused with fruit. Again, this is very much like a Framboise...without the lip-smacking sourness. Tastes more potent than the alcohol indicates (6% abv). The body is full, carbonation is moderate. The aftertaste is a light tartness that diminishes slowly.

This is an unusual Belgian in that it doesn't have the typical flavors/aromas. Still, it is very good. Think heavy lambic with less tart.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
4.37/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Ruby red brown with a nice caramel tan head leaves appitent amount of head leaves lacing that's beyond my belief. Aroma: Clear caramel malt with massive amounts of amber tones that left me in a frenzy solid looking flemish ale. Taste: Sharp cherry taste with an incredible amount of sourness that is somehow still enjoyable sets your spirit free excellent taste that can'e be let go. Tart fruit flavor that brings any oud bruin competition. Mouthfeel: Heavy carbonation medium bodied ale nice. Drinkability: Excellent solid array of flavors that proves this is a classic staple of the oud bruin or flemish style ale tradition good stuff.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
4/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear brown with a reddish hue. Flavor is sour. Hoooie! I love it. Kind of an antiseptic edge to it. But it's nice and smooth. Feel has a fairly biting carbonation that hits quickly and leaves. Liquid is kind of sticky yet smooth. This is a pretty good example of this style. If you aren't ready for the sour, don't bother coming at all for this one.

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Photo of stakem
3.61/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

750ml corked and caged offering that I have cellared for several years. In fact, ive held on to this too long as I see I have surpassed the best by date by 3 years. September 2012 is stamped on the cork. The brew is mahogany in color with a white cap. Ruby clarity is seen along the edges and spotty lace sticks to the glass

The aroma comes off like cider vinegar with some malty sweetness and hints of fruit juice. The taste is tart and fruity like apple cider and cherry juice. Very mild vinegar and residual sweetness with hints of oak. The sweetness here seems more sugary feeling than the typical malt character.

This is light bodied and moderately carbonated. An easy drinking brew but lacking a bit in body/complexity but otherwise quite refreshing.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
4/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into a goblet.

Appearance - Pours a deep mahogany with hints of red and a vigorous khaki head. The head bubbles away quickly leaving a thin layer of foam on the surface.

Smell - Sour cherries through and through. Some sweet aromas come through behind.

Taste - Surprisingly, the first flavor is sweetness and a lightness that I would expect in the finish. The sweetness, happily, is gone very quickly fading to a slight tartness. Not puckering, but enough to overcome the sweetness and give it a even a little bitterness.

Mouthfeel - I'm no sour expert, but what makes this one better than what I've had is that it doesn't have a sickly sweet finish. It's not dry, but the sourness holds out till the end.

Overall - As stated, I am no sour expert, but this is tasty, if not very complex. Single flavor going through, but a good flavor.

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Photo of jwc215
3.08/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

11.2 oz. bottle:

Pours deep mahogany (nice color) with very little head.

The smell is vinuous - dark grape.

The taste is of grape and pomigranite. Slight oak. Wine-like (Manishevitz comes to mind). Sour with a fruity sweetness (subtle hints towards a chocolate, but more in that you would find in some wines). Aftertaste of grape soda lingers. Sweettart. Sweet and sour dominates, but more towards the sweetness. Dry finish.

It has certain unique characters, however, it doesn't stand out as anything above average for the style, IMO. Too much like grape soda for me.

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Photo of johnnnniee
4.45/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a beautifully clear red/brown with a bubbly off white head that starts off strong but leaves us much too soon but sticks much lace on my glass. Smells of horsehair, must, oak, some berries, tart acidic. Taste is filled with all the wonderful things I smelled. I pick up the funk sweet and sour dried fruits, some vanilla, even a faint bourbon in there as well. Mouthfeel is syrupy, sticky, smooth. Body is medium, carbonation is low but ample. I wish I had tried this sooner as it is a fantastic sour and seems to be readily available in my area.

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Photo of Gagnonsux
4.21/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Color is maroon with a ruby glow. Head is tall and light brown. Aroma starts with an initial blast of sour funkiness, which gives way to a sweet dark fruit smell. Interesting, but relatively weak. A sip starts with plenty of tartness. Soon, sweet dark fruit flavors take over until a sugary sweet finish. A slight edge of what I believe to be oak flavor is noted as well. A constant theme here is that of sweet and tart flavors volleying for my palate's attention. The overall flavor here is excellent, very complex and layered, making this beer almost too easy to drink. Highly recommended.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.15/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

750 ml bottle.
Sits in the snifter a a clear, deep ruby hue, nearing on brown, with a toasty, fizzy head holding down the fort.
Spicy aroma, and plenty sour, replete with associations of dark fruit, grapes, dates, blackberries, and a twisted hint of licorice. Wicked mix in this nose. I like it.
Oooo, puckeration! Mega-hit of sour on first sip! Backwash of sweetness, cherries and plums, but the tart stays on top. Next sip: Ooooweee, it's at it again! Molasses-like, and treacly in the taste, thinning out by the time the flavor leaves the palate and I'm ready for another swallow...ooo, quit doing that!
Around this time, the intense tartness mellows a bit, and the brew plays a little lighter in the mouth. Sweetness glides arm in arm with sour, and they play a tight ping pong match.
body is medium, lightly fruity, long-lived finish. Tasty thing, despite the challenges that must be met in approaching the brew. I'm going to relax with the remainder.

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Photo of smakawhat
4.07/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a tulip glass. Best before September 9th 2012, and ready to roll.

A nice somewhat foamy head that is sort of cream and off red/white in appearance. Sits on a dark brown/red body resembling almost pancake syrup like in color.

Bouquet is very unique. A faint brown sugar, smoked wood chips, sour fruit and yeast all combine to make a real interesting nose. Hints of brett"y" saison quality. Real nice.

Taste is a very tolerable sourness, and what feels like maltyness and brown sugar on the finish. Both sour and sweet at the same time. A little bit of tight prickly carbonation though, and a bit of a wet mouthfeel.

Even still drinkability is pretty solid. I would have this more often if it wasn't so pricey.

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Photo of BeerForMuscle
4.18/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A - Medium brown toned body with a foamy beige one finger head.

S - Tangy and tart, also fruity and fresh. Some grainy scents are there too.

T - Alot of fruit tartness like cherries and possible red grape/apple. This beer is also acidic and has wine like qualities. The alcohol is smooth and crisp. The back of the tongue gets some wood aftertaste and the beer has some sour dryness to it as well.

M - Very effervescent and clean mouthfeel. The beer has a lighter-medium body and is very smooth and refreshing.

Notes - I enjoy sours and this is one of my favorites of the type. Its always good, easy to drink and just an overall quality choice.

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Photo of GarthDanielson
4/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750 cork and cage into a snifter, the beer is a deep, ruby-red color. Very vibrant in the light, with a steady flow of carbonation feeding the tall, bubbly, foamy, off-white head. Nose of tart cherries, dry Merlot notes, earthy highlights, and subtle sourness. Flavors are smooth and sweet cherry forward, followed by rich berry blends, tart grape, earthy highlights, woody notes, and some sugary sweetness lingering about here and there. The sour notes are very mellow (this bottle has a couple of years on it). Smooth and light bodied, with a dry and crisp finish. Solid cherry sweet aftertaste, again with hints of sourness. Very drinkable.

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Photo of Billolick
4.32/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at the Ginger man NYC, Pours dark ruby reddish, cloudy and murky. Nose of must and old feet. Classic Belgian puffy head and leaves nice sheets of lacing. Not for the faint of heart or those lacking a sense of palate adventure. Intense flavors of sour cherries and sweet malts give this one excellent complexity. some nuts, some stinky cheese and some of this stuff and you're all set up for a flavor extravaganza!

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Duchesse De Bourgogne from Brouwerij Verhaeghe
4.1 out of 5 based on 4,130 ratings.
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