It's one of those legends of the beer world that, up until recently, had never crossed my path. I had absolutely no idea what to expect from Liefmans Goudenband: lots and lots of people have told me it was brilliant, but no-one ever said why.
Here, for the record, is why it's brilliant:
The sour notes start early, hitting the nose as soon as the cork is disgorged, with only a slight pop. There's not a whole lot by way of fizz or head, and the body is a brackish red-brown. The first sip reveals that yes, it's definitely a Flemish sour ale, with Rodenbach being the most obvious comparator. We're talking tart summer berries balanced against mellow vanilla and caramel. But there's more. I'm guessing it's the added sugar that makes it bigger and meatier in the taste department. It's certainly stronger, at 8% ABV, but that extra alcohol hasn't made it boozy or heavy or sticky -- it's dangerously drinkable, in fact -- rather it seems to have added an extra dimension to the slightly woody sour Flemish flavour: ripe cherries, soft sticky toffee, that sort of thing. Decadent luxury, yet with buckets of zing.
A sparkly refresher at tramp-juice strength? It would appear so.