Continuing our adventure into the realm of sour ale brewing, we designed a recipe to create an Upland version of a traditional Flanders Red. Melding flaked maize into a turbid mash and adding Belgian candi sugar during a long kettle boil, we prepared this ale for epic proportions. We then incorporated wild yeasts and other acetic and lactic acid producing microorganisms for a year-long oak fermentation in bourbon barrels, which had previously been utilized to age beer. The journey was worth the hardships.
The sour red/brown beers of Flanders can be considered as two different styles, or two ends of a single style continuum, depending on how you choose to view the issue. They are a clearly–defined sour ale subtype, one with strong historical traditions. Their character blends rich malt with tartness, and usually some fruity character as well. Oak aging is common in the traditional production of the style and therefore is often evident in the character. Many examples are also aged on fruit. At the red end of the style, the classic is Rodenbach at the brown end it is Liefmans, and there are several very good examples in between.