Brouwerij Bockor’s Cuvee des Jacobins is an outstanding example of a Flemish Red, a type of Sour Ale that originated in Flanders. Brewing traditions in Belgium extend back before it was known that yeast was what allowed wort (unfermented beer) to develop into beer. They simply knew that if they brewed wort and allowed it to sit out, that eventually it would become beer. Modern brewers typically use only Brewer’s Yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae for ales) in their beer and guard vigilantly against contamination by unwanted yeast strains or bacteria. With open-air fermentation, however, those wild yeast strains and bacteria are allowed to inoculate the wort, letting it to ferment into a brew quite unfamiliar to the vast majority of American beer drinkers.
Though called a Flemish Red, the beer pours a deep maroon, bordering on mahogany. The white head quickly disappears into the beer, due to its high acidity.
A fair amount of funky, barnyard aromas waft up from the beer, a common characteristic of ales brewed with wild yeast and, in this case, a bacterium called lactobacillus. You can also pick up sour apples, tart cherries and bit of bittersweet chocolate.
The first thing you’ll notice about the beer is its high acidity. It’s fairly light-bodied with a good amount of carbonation. It is an extremely tart beer, and quite sour. You can expect your mouth to pucker a little bit when drinking this one. Sour apple and cherry flavors are in abundance. The beer has something of a cider-like quality to it. The mouth-feel is similar to many hard ciders and the sour fruit flavor reinforces the connection. There are some lemony, citrus notes, as well, but they’re fairly subtle. The bittersweet chocolate, though not as noticeable as it was on the nose, gives just a hint of sweetness underneath the beers of overriding tartness. The oak barrels the beer was aged in give it a hint of vanilla that blends well with the bittersweet chocolate.
This is an extremely complex beer and one that any serious craft beer aficionado should seek out and enjoy. Those just starting to explore the world of craft beer may find it a little too extreme. If you try it and don’t like it, that’s fine, but cellar a bottle (sours age extremely well) and keep trying new and different craft beers. In a year or so, come back to it. I can almost guarantee that your efforts to expand your beer horizons will make you much more receptive to this brew. If you’re ready to enjoy this beer now, consider yourself lucky for this is a truly world-class beer and one to be appreciated. If you have friends who are predominantly wine-drinkers, have them try this and show them that beer can truly rival wine in complexity and depth.
Beer Buyer Overall Rating: 4.5 Out Of 5 Pints
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