Duchesse De Bourgogne: where beer, cider & wine meet
You probably haven’t heard of Brouwerij Verhaeghe Vichte but, like many Belgian breweries, that’s because its beers are much more famous than the place that makes it.
Verhaeghe Brewery, found about halfway between Ghent and Lille, is one of two world-famous producers of the Flanders Red. This barrel-aged style is still almost unique to Belgium and is little understood. Found at the place where cider, red wine and beer all collide, it is a fascinating beer and way of brewing.
The beer is lightly hopped so there is almost no bitterness, and brewed with plenty of caramel-tinged malts for a sugary sweetness. Once fermented the beer is piped into giant oak casks and left to age. Here, the wild bacteria in the wood slowly sours the beer. Some beer is aged for eight months, and some for 18. The older the beer, the more sour and complex it has become. These two vintages are then blended to create a complex red ale that has notes of caramel, cherry and balsamic vinegar.
Not only is this beer a fantastic sipper, it’s unbelievable with food. Try cutting through a hearty beef stew with it, or using it like a chutney with some soft brie or goat’s cheese. The latter is even better with Echt Kriekenbier, a version of their base beer refermented over Belgian cherries.
These two beers have been made at the brewery for over 50 years, but they haven’t always been the focus. During the First World War, the brewery closed in protest to German rule and was therefore dismantled. It was rebuilt shortly after peace was declared, only for France to be occupied again. This time the brewers were forced to make Pilsner for the Germans, and they still brew the beer today despite being known for more adventurous beers.
The success of the Duchesse De Bourgogne has assured the future of a brewery rich inexperience and dedicated to producing unique, delicious beer.To try the beer or buy it for your pub, bar, restaurant or shop, contact your rep or call 01622 710339 to set up an account.