Beer Review: Duchesse de Bourgogne

In the bountiful world of beer it can be hard, neigh impossible, to be aware of all the varieties of beers! Duchesse de Bourgogne (think Doo-shay de bore-gone-a) is one such beer that escaped my notice for far too long. Luckily the fantastic Richard Dubé VP of Brewing Operations at Cincinnati’s own Christian Moerlein brought this beer to my attention earlier this year by proclaiming his love for it. I had it first at Wildflower Cafe in Mason and realized I must get a bottle for a review and spread the love!

Here’s the description courtesy of Brouwerij Verhaeghe’s web page:

“Duchesse de Bourgogne” is an ale of mixed fermentation. It is a sweet-fruity ale with a pleasant fresh aftertaste. This ale is brewed with roasted malts and with hops with a low bitterness. After the main fermentation and the lagering , the “Duchesse de Bourgogne” matures further for many months in oak casks. The tannins in the oak give the “Duchesse de Bourgogne” its fruity character. “Duchesse de Bourgogne” has a full, sweet and fresh taste : it is a ruby red jewel of 6.2 % alc. vol., that best is served in a chalice-shaped glass between 8 and 12°C [46 to 53°F]. A perfect beer .

  • Type of beer : West-Flemish red brown ale
  • Color : ruby red
  • Fermentation : mixed fermentation

Beer: Duchesse de Bourgogne
Brewery: Brouwerij Verhaeghe
Style: Flanders Red Ale
ABV: 6.2%

An aromatic combo of acetic vinegar sourness, dark fruits, and malt fills your nose as soon as you bring the glass close with a nice oakyness following after.

The color is an extremely dark red, much darker then anticipated. Though if you hold it up to a strong LED light you can see it’s more of cherry red. The head on here is a nice thick and creamy off-white that stayed around until the very end of the glass.

Flavor has a delightful tang of tartness along a touch of oak and some dark cherries. All of that action is on the more acetic/vinegar side of things but it’s balanced out by a nice malt body and some apple sweetness but the sweetness doesn’t linger which is cool.

Medium body and smooth carbonation with a long dry finish though there is some astringent prickliness left hanging around.

This is a delightful and complex beer that I love to have every so often. I wouldn’t advise drinking this every day, but if you haven’t had one yet you should really try it. It should be easily available at all better bottle shops around town and Richard Dubé keeps it on-tap at the Moerlein Lager House.

A Tale of Two Ciders

Hard ciders have been growing in popularity along with craft beer during this recent boom, though at a much smaller percentage. Years ago your selection was limited to old English brands then Woodchuck came on the scene and started to dominate. Now there are a plethora of companies making cider and 2 “local” ones that I’ll be trying tonight. My wife has been a cider lover for a long time now and I’ve been meaning to steal one of hers to review and that day has finally come.

The main difference between beer and cider is the source of the alcohol. Beer uses the sugar from malted barley while hard ciders rely on the sugar in apple juice. Don’t think this means hard ciders are light, or low alcohol, in fact the Oliver Original cider I’ll be trying tonight is 8%!

I have come to believe that there is a general perception that hard ciders are for women or something like that. Please note, I am not saying this is my perception nor am I trying to start any kind of sexist war, just stating something I’ve observed. Honestly, I think it’s nonsense and according to some facts from Angry Orchard it is equally consumed by men and women. Anything can be for anyone it’s just all about what their personal preference is. My hope is that this post will bring info about hard cider to our readers and encourage them to give it a go. That said, on to the reviews!

Brewery: Oliver Winery
Beer Cider: Beanblossom Hard Cider Original
Style: Cider
ABV: 8%
Calories: ~250

Fantastically clear and very pale yellow/gold color that honestly looks a lot like Bud Light. No head what so ever, though I’m not super sure if cider’s should have a head on them. It does look a lot like apple juice though.

Very fruity aroma with lots of sugary action and a noticeable amount of alcohol.

Pleasantly sweet taste that screams apple. I was concerned that this was going to be sickening sweet, like Georgia sweet tea, but am glad to find that’s not the case though It is certainly sweeter than most beers.

Very light body with an extremely crisp and refreshing mouth feel. This is probably my favorite part of this drink.

I digg this and can see myself drinking more of them after mowing the lawn on hot summer days, a spot usually reserved for a Rivertown Helles. Though the 8% this thing packs could make for an interesting afternoon, I’m about half way through and definitely feeling it.A few words on packaging before moving on to Angry Orchard. This is a very interesting can, bottle, canottle, cabottle? bottan? It’s a tall aluminum can, I dig the convergence of cans and bottles in this format and would like to see some beers packaged this way as well.

Brewery: Angry Orchard (Boston Beer Company)
Cider: Crisp Apple
Style: Cider
ABV: 5%
Calories: 280

Much richer golden yellow hue then the Oliver had. Also packs noticeably more “head” then Oliver did, it’s not really a normal head as much as just a ring of bubbles around the top rim.

Very strong apple smell with loads of sweet apples, but not much else.

Overly sweet apple flavor that is over done in my opinion. Like the aroma there is nothing else happening here except for the apples.

Nicely crisp, smooth, and light body feel.

Between these two the Oliver is the clear winner in my opinion. It’s got a much better overall experience and more alcohol, on the upside for this beer is that it’s cheaper, session-worthy, and massively available wherever any beer is sold.

I mentioned earlier how both of these ciders were “local”. I’m using “local” because Bloomington, Indiana isn’t in the greater Cincinnati area but is only 2 1/2 hours off. Angry Orchard claims to be from Cincinnati, Ohio. This threw me for a great loop when my wife first spotted it in Asheville, North Carolina of all places. I knew that no place making cider in Cincinnati could have popped up completely under my nose without me knowing at all. After doing a little digging online I quickly discovered that Angry Orchard is a Sam Adam’s product. So yes, it is “local” as it is brewed at Sam Adam’s facility in Over-The-Rhine.

Apple Pie a la Mode Moonshine

On the Halloween Special of The Charlie Tonic Hour, Charlie and I shared the fall-themed drink that I made for our Halloween block party. It turned out great and I am thinking of making something similar to give out for Christmas presents this year. If you want to drink along at home here is the recipe for our Apple Pie a la Mode Moonshine. I originally came across this recipe on Allrecipes.com and was delighted to find that my favorite cooking site also has a lot of other cocktail and liqueur recipes to be found there so I highly recommend you check it out.

Apple Pie ‘Ala Mode Moonshine

1/2 gallon apple juice
1/2 gallon apple cider
4 whole cinnamon sticks
4 whole cloves
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar

Bring these ingredients to a boil and then let them simmer for at least 20 minutes. Once the mix is cooled to room temperature or below add:

3 cups Everclear
2 cups vanilla vodka

Everclear or similar 190 proof grain alcohol is not available in Ohio or Kentucky but it is legal in Indiana. The best substitute is a 100 proof vodka. When I was making this that is what I used and I added an extra half cup of each vodka. You can drink right away but it’s best if you let the mixture rest at least 24 hours to allow the flavors to blend together. Pour the drink into pint mason jars for an authentic moonshine look and it would make an amazing gift.

This article originally ran on The Charlie Tonic Hour.