Rodenbach Grand Cru

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old faithful
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Postby old faithful » Fri Dec 10, 2004 9:16 pm

I would not call any beer dead unless it is heat pasteurised. Perhaps Rodenbach is, but it has enough character to jar Jupiter (phrase courtesy M.F.K. Fisher), so the question is moot.

Another feature of Rodenbach, which seems somewhat odd at first blush, is it contains corn in the mash.

Belgian beers are so unpredictable and idiosyncratic that cranky country classics like Rodenbach reserve the right to surprise in ways both unpredictable and counter-intuitive.

Gary
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Postby dhurtubise » Sat Dec 11, 2004 9:54 am

old faithful wrote:Another feature of Rodenbach, which seems somewhat odd at first blush, is it contains corn in the mash.

Belgian beers are so unpredictable and idiosyncratic that cranky country classics like Rodenbach reserve the right to surprise in ways both unpredictable and counter-intuitive.

Gary


It is interesting that most of the belgian ales contain adjuncts in one form or another, yet are extremely flavourful and complex. You definitely cannot judge the character of the beer based only on the ingredients. For example, Rochefort 6,8 and 10 are all laced with sugars, corn and wheat cereals; Belgian wit beers usually weigh-in at 4%-5% and contain more than 40% of it grist as unmalted wheat and they are still much more interesting than light american lagers which feature roughly the same proportions. Lambics contain usually 30% of it's grist of the same cereal.

In the UK, many of the revered pale ales, bitters, browns and porters contain significant amounts of sugars.

I guess the point I am making is that in many cases, so long as there is enough substatial malt, or other brewing periferals such as the use of a more complex yeast (or bacteria) or spices, adjuncts won't necessarily cause a downgrade in the beer's quality.

American lagers are bland and tasteless because they add as little low quality malts as they can get away with, mash at lower temperatures which significantly reduces the beer's eventual body and then on top of that use extremely highly attenuating neutral yeasts. YUMMY :wink:
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Postby Wheatsheaf » Sat Dec 11, 2004 1:25 pm

old faithful wrote:I would not call any beer dead unless it is heat pasteurised. Perhaps Rodenbach is...


That's exactly what it is. As I said before, Rodenbach Grand Cru is filtered and pasteurized (the latter of which implies an application of heat). That's been the case for many years.

As for the corn, it comprises around 10-20% of the mash. We've had this discussion before, and I agree with dhurtubise: ingredients alone don't determine the quality of a beer. There are certainly breweries out there whose reliance on cheap ingredients has had a profoundly negative effect on their products (one famous Belgian brewery immediately comes to mind). But then there are others who also use adjuncts or hop extracts but manage to brew beers that are without fault (Rochefort is an excellent example).
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Postby old faithful » Sat Dec 11, 2004 2:54 pm

Thanks for the statement earlier (which I missed) about Rodenbach being pasteurised. It does not taste heat-treated but I accept that it is yet note at the same time that its character is so big pasteurisation, evidently, can't really hurt it. After two years in microflora-influenced wood one wonders what else can happen to Roddy after bottling and why, therefore, it is felt necessary to pasteurise but I digress..

And of course the same general idea applies for the use of sugars and adjuncts, i.e., they can't hurt if used carefully. I know sugars have been used for years in Belgian beers of quality (y compris le sucre candi, n'est-ce pas?) but was surprised to see corn on the label. Wheat is different in that it is a European grain plus it gives beer a good and interesting taste, but corn in beer seems unlikely to enhance taste and is hardly native to the soil of Belgium or even Europe. I assume it is used in small quantities but then why bother..? I heard Chimay might be using corn adjunct and if it is true I think in that case at least it has not assisted the product which seems less good than I remember it 10-20 years ago. The Blue is still good (well, the White too) but the Red, which used to be my favourite, seems diminished in recent years and also the cork-finished version seems always to taste of cork to me no matter how fresh the product. Anyway my point was the whole idea of the traditional (and some new!) Belgian beers is idiosyncracy and this must be taken to include use even of foreign adjunct.

Still, one wonders what a non-pasteurised, all-malt (or at least corn-less) Roddy would be like..

Gary
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Postby dhurtubise » Sun Dec 12, 2004 4:33 pm

old faithful wrote: After two years in microflora-influenced wood one wonders what else can happen to Roddy after bottling and why, therefore, it is felt necessary to pasteurise but I digress..


It would continue to increase in sourness. The grand cru is almost certainly blended in some capacity to achieve a semblance of quality control. I personally would like the affect but many others probably would not. It would also allow you to age the rodenbach klassik which is a tame little red ale with nothing more than an inuendo of lactic acid. That little beer would be able to develop the same kind of complexity we find in the Grand Cru. Simply put, pasturizing the grand cru assures that the flavour does not get out of hand for most palates.

old faithful wrote:
(y compris le sucre candi, n'est-ce pas?)


Absolument, autrement connu sous le nom de sucre inversé (inversed sugars). Though the use of inverse sugars is mostly due to the fact that it was the easiest form of sugars to use in a brewery since it comes in liquid form at known concentrations and therefore do not need to be dissolved. It is also widely available in belgium because of an established economy based on production of sweet candies, and chocolates of course.


old faithful wrote:
but was surprised to see corn on the label. Wheat is different in that it is a European grain plus it gives beer a good and interesting taste, but corn in beer seems unlikely to enhance taste and is hardly native to the soil of Belgium or even Europe. I assume it is used in small quantities but then why bother..?


It is actually used in quite some substantial proportion, as wheatsheath has indicated, up to 20% of the mash is composed of maïs. As far as wheat is concerned, much caution must be practiced in order to avoid having a very cloudy beer. In Hefe Weizens and witbiers for example, it is the protein in the what that provides the cloudiness, not the yeast, although this last one can contribute to it. More than 10% of the grist basically guarantees a cloudy beer unless measures such as filtration or sedimentation are used to counter this tendency. Corn is used because it can be mashed so that it introduces no more proteins than barley malt does. It is also dirt cheap (higher yields/acre than wheat and less demand since wheat is used worldwide to make bread and corn has much more limited applications).

old faithful wrote:
I heard Chimay might be using corn adjunct and if it is true I think in that case at least it has not assisted the product which seems less good than I remember it 10-20 years ago. The Blue is still good (well, the White too) but the Red, which used to be my favourite, seems diminished in recent years and also the cork-finished version seems always to taste of cork to me no matter how fresh the product.


By all acounts, all of Chimay's beers have diminished in quality. It may be due to changes in recipe formulations (ie. increase in adjunct usage) but it is more likely due to major changes in production processes due to major increase in production which forces them to rush the primary and secondary fermentations. I don't remember the exact numbers but the production of Chimay has increased at least a couple folds over the last 10 years.
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Postby old faithful » Sun Dec 12, 2004 4:45 pm

Thanks for these thoughts. It is hard to think Roddy can increase in sourness, but maybe they don't want uncontrolled further fermentation, i.e., introducing tastes that depart from the "profil" they want. I have more thoughts on Roddy but wish to turn attention, under the appropriate rubric, to Samual Smith Imperial Stout, of which a glass is to my left as I type.

Gary
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Postby esprit » Sun Dec 12, 2004 5:44 pm

dhurtubuise, we have been representing Chimay for some 6 years now and, in that time, the increase in production has not been significant so I challenge your comments. The Trappist fathers refuse to put on a night shift as it is their feeling that their employees should be with their families in the evening. As there has been no significant expansion of the brewery plant, how is it you think that they have dramatically increased production? As for speeding up the process, today I must still wait as long as I did 6 years ago for an order of any of the Chimay products. If they've sped up the process then I guess they must just sit on the beer for no reason rather than ship it to us in Canada. If you're going to make such comments, please have some facts to back them up as such speculation is unfair to Chimay.
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Postby dhurtubise » Sun Dec 12, 2004 9:08 pm

Source: Abey de St-Rémi (Rochefort) , June 2003, masterbrewer who was justifying his 11% increase in production which was mandated by the engineer they hired. In order to do this, they cut time for secondary fermentation, a move he said was small compared with what Chimay had done, though without elaborating on the statement.

As for your waiting time: is it not possible that you are simply in a bigger line-up (more demand). That would definetly account for the wait being the same as always, that and the LCBO red tape.

Tim Webb, as I remember, also indicated an increase in production and pointed to it as the reason for the reduction in quality. Chimay is by far the most available of the Trappist biers. It's increased presence is in new markets (north america) which are just waking up to quality beers, it stands to reason that production has indeed increased to fulfill the new demands.

Their beers are still world class, but I have definitely notice a reduction in quality since I started drinking them about 10 years ago. I still wish that the brewery had more presence in Ontario and am truly happy you are bringing the product to us. I enjoy each and everyone of the three beers.
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Postby old faithful » Mon Dec 13, 2004 8:44 am

The Chimay I beers I like best at present are the Blue Capsule and White. I prefer the Blue as presently offered at LCBO, i.e. in the small glass bottles. The Chimay White is very good on draught too, I had this once in New York but (unless mistaken) have never seen it in this form in Ontario. I laid in a supply of Blue following its release at LCBO recently and will make some comments shortly under a separate heading. Certainly as a beer fan I find it interesting to know how any beer is made (especially Belgians because of their acknowledged quality) and whether it is all-malt, uses adjunct of some kind, uses a particular kind of fermenter or whatever. At the end of the day though, all that matters is the taste. If it tastes good I will buy it. Any committed beer fan wishes Chimay well, I visited the monastery once (well, the adjoining restaurant where the beers are offered to the public) and it remains a highlight of my beer quests and travels. I wil never forget seeing local people (many were farmers in blue smocks) knocking back, at lunch, multiple bottles of Chimay White!

Gary
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Postby Belgian » Wed Dec 29, 2004 1:30 pm

Rodenbach Grand Cru... 2.25... can't be that good! Ahh, try two, that's the rule.

Got it home. Tried it. Hmm. Brie mold flavor? Stuck the other bottle in the fridge.

Few days later, try again. Wow! This is punchy sour like a good Gueuze, but really different in flavor nuances!! In fact (and no dis to Peter) I like this WAY better than the recent case of Mort Subite Gueuze!

Off I go, to secure a 24 pack for my cellar. What a nice deal for such a wicked beer. It is truly something special, and really from another time, a dusty era of Europe long forgotten. That's the only way to understand this beer, perhaps, it makes me think of the oldest places I've been.

(I can't take home more than a case, gotta leave some stock for others.)
In Beerum Veritas
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Postby dhurtubise » Wed Dec 29, 2004 11:39 pm

glad you stuck it out Belgian.

Cheers.
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Postby El Pinguino » Sun Jan 02, 2005 6:23 pm

Greetings beer enthusiasts. I forced myself to register today and stop lurking around the Bar Towel as there seems to be somethign wrong.

I have a 1/2 empty glass of Rodenbach Grand Cru staring at me, and I want to throw it out. It seems that this has happened to others, and I hope the the other bottle I have will not cause the same feelings.

Now I have never tried Cantillon Geuze, and am curious if perhaps my palate just does not appreciate the sourness/tartness of such beers? The only other time I have been faced with the decision to dump 1/2 a glass was with Rochefort 10.

I fear there could be something wrong! I shall take another sip and wish for the best, and hope that the Rodenbach does not meet the same fate as that poor glass of Rochefort 10.

Hass anyone else had the same reaction to these 2 beers??
:o
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Postby dhurtubise » Sun Jan 02, 2005 10:28 pm

Those are two of the most wonderful beers in the world. True world classics, both of them.

A little palate training should take care of all of that :) enjoy the training!
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Postby Jon Walker » Mon Jan 03, 2005 1:59 pm

dhurtubise wrote:Those are two of the most wonderful beers in the world. True world classics, both of them.

A little palate training should take care of all of that :) enjoy the training!


Wow! It's your opinion these two beers are two of the most wonderful in the world. In the case of the Rochefort I would agree (IMO) and Ratebeer would seem to back you up (it's #5 in the top 50). But the Rodenbach, as this entire thread speaks to, is much more a topic of debate. I hope you don't mean to imply that liking the Rodenbach means having a trained palate versus not liking it meaning we don't. That would be arrogant and more than a little condescending...IMO
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Postby esprit » Mon Jan 03, 2005 4:24 pm

There was a time when I first got into this business that I couldn't handle many of the products I sell. That is to say, I simply did not enjoy drinking them. Having said that, I never poured out a beer and, with regularity, tried them over and over again even though it was sometimes a less than thrilling experience. As a result, my tastes have changed dramatically in the past 15 years and today there are very few beers I simply cannot stomach. Up until about 5 or 6 years ago I couldn't stand Belgian wheat beers...a case of Brussels White consumed over a an 8 week period changed that completely and now I absolutely love the style. I have never liked Rodenbach Grand Cru but I did buy a couple over the holidays and drank both...didn't really enjoy them but I drank them and did start to appreciate at least some of their nuances. Orval is considered one of the world's great beers and I sell it yet it's taken me about 15 years to start appreciating it and, even still, it's not the first beer I'd pick to drink but I never give up on it and yank out a bottle every once in a while.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that if you're going to pour out anything that doesn't tickle your palate on the first try, your life in the world of beer will be a very sad and limited one.....it's like being 50 years old and still drinking only Mateus Rose cause you don't like dry red wines? If people poured out every wine they didn't like from the time they were 18, Mateus would probably be the only wine brand listed at the LCBO.

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