29 June 2009

Flemish paradox

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.

12 comments:

  1. Great beer an one I try to keep at bottle at home, it also great after a big meal to aid digestion.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Goudenband used to only be 5.5% ABV and I was a bit wary when they upped the strength so much a few years back. My fears were unfounded.

    My favourite beer of this type was Felix from Clarysse, also in Oudenaarde. But they've been shut for a while now. It was contract brewed for a while, not sure if it still is.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I had a bit of a party at my house just after Christmas. I cooked a Flemish beef stew (with Goudenband) and served it with Goudenband (to those who would try it! It was interesting to see people's reactions; most were positive. As you say; it's dangerously drinkable...

    ReplyDelete
  4. It's been years since I had one of those, and now I have an urge to seek it out again. They used to sell it in the Porterhouse at least eight years ago which, I think, was the last time I had it.

    ReplyDelete
  5. It was the €4 daily special a few weeks ago.

    ReplyDelete
  6. One of my all time favourite beers. I have one awaiting my attentions at home, as it happens. What temperature would you serve it at? I think it should be fairly cool but not cold myself. Maybe 10C?

    ReplyDelete
  7. That's what my beer fridge is set to, but I found it came out of its shell after a little bit of warming, so I'd recommend 12 or thereabouts.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I tried this years ago before I really knew owt about beer (Heckler: "You still don't!") and it was a classic case of running before I could walk. I didn't know what to make of it and my overriding memory is of whinging about the price. I must try it again now I've got my bearings.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Its a while since I tried Goudenband but it is a great beer and it makes a terrific carbonade, too.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Anonymous3:13 a.m.

    I have a Goudenband from 1987. Any idea how it might taste?

    ReplyDelete
  11. Not a clue. I guess it would depend a lot on how the cork has weathered. There's only one way to find out...

    ReplyDelete
  12. Love this stuff - it's sooo refreshing, and yet very rarely seen - if only places that stocked the Kriek would give Goudenband a go.

    ReplyDelete