Style Details

Fland­ers Red Ale
Euro­pean Sour Ale
BJCP Style Code
23 B
Deep red, bur­gun­dy to red­dish-brown in color. Good cla­ri­ty. White to very pale tan head. Avera­ge to good head retention.
Com­plex frui­ty-sour pro­fi­le with sup­port­ing malt that often gives a wine-like impres­si­on. Frui­tin­ess is high, and remi­nis­cent of black cher­ries, oran­ges, plums or red cur­rants. The­re are often low to medi­um-low vanil­la and/or cho­co­la­te notes. Spi­cy phe­nols can be pre­sent in low amounts for com­ple­xi­ty. The sour aro­ma ran­ges from balan­ced to inten­se. Pro­mi­nent vin­ega­ry ace­tic cha­rac­ter is inap­pro­pria­te. No hop aro­ma. Diace­tyl is per­cei­ved only in very minor quan­ti­ties, if at all, as a com­ple­men­ta­ry aroma.
Inten­se frui­tin­ess com­mon­ly includes plum, oran­ge, black cher­ry or red cur­rant fla­vors. A mild vanil­la and/or cho­co­la­te cha­rac­ter is often pre­sent. Spi­cy phe­nols can be pre­sent in low amounts for com­ple­xi­ty. Sour fla­vor ran­ges from com­ple­men­ta­ry to inten­se, and can have an aci­dic bite. Mal­ty fla­vors ran­ge from com­ple­men­ta­ry to pro­mi­nent, and often have a soft toasty-rich qua­li­ty. Gene­ral­ly as the sour cha­rac­ter increa­ses, the malt cha­rac­ter blends to more of a back­ground fla­vor (and vice ver­sa). No hop fla­vor. Res­trai­ned hop bit­ter­ness. An aci­dic, tan­nic bit­ter­ness is often pre­sent in low to mode­ra­te amounts, and adds an aged red wine-like cha­rac­ter and finish. Pro­mi­nent vin­ega­ry ace­tic cha­rac­ter is inap­pro­pria­te. Diace­tyl is per­cei­ved only in very minor quan­ti­ties, if at all, as a com­ple­men­ta­ry fla­vor. Balan­ced to the malt side, but domi­na­ted by the frui­ty, sour, wine-like impression.
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
A sour, frui­ty, red wine-like Bel­gi­an-style ale with inte­res­t­ing sup­port­i­ve malt fla­vors and fruit com­ple­xi­ty. The dry finish and tan­nin com­ple­tes the men­tal image of a fine red wine.
Typi­cal Ingredients
A base of Vien­na and/or Munich malts, light to medi­um cara-malts, and a small amount of Spe­cial B are used with up to 20% mai­ze. Low alpha acid con­ti­nen­tal hops are com­mon­ly used (avo­id high alpha or distinc­ti­ve Ame­ri­can hops). Sac­ch­aro­my­ces, Lac­to­ba­cil­lus and Brett­anomy­ces (and ace­to­bac­ter) con­tri­bu­te to the fer­men­ta­ti­on and even­tu­al flavor.
An 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.
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 (but never vin­egar-like) and the frui­ty fla­vors more remi­nis­cent of a red wine than an Oud Bru­in. Can have an appa­rent atte­nua­ti­on of up to 98%.
Com­mer­cial Examples
Cuvée des Jaco­bins Rouge, Duch­es­se de Bour­go­gne, Roden­bach Grand Cru, Roden­bach Klas­siek, Vich­ten­aar Fle­mish Ale
Ori­gi­nal Gravity
1.048 - 1.057 SG
Final Gra­vi­ty
1.002 - 1.012 SG
10 - 16 SRM
4.0 - 6.0 %vol
10 - 25 IBU