First published in BEER July 2007 as part of a piece on French beer. For more French beers see previous post.
Beer sellers: Cave à bulles
ABV: 5.8 per cent
Origin: Esquelbecq, Nord, France
Like most place names around Dunkirk, the name Esquelbecq is originally Dutch – it means “acorn brook”. The village once boasted five breweries, all closed by World War II, but mash tuns steamed again in 1996 thanks to Daniel Thiriez. His is a determinedly artisanal operation producing bottle conditioned speciality ales made from entirely natural ingredients.
La Rouge Flamande is a superb example, named after the Flemish Red breed of dairy cattle and first brewed in 1999 to mark the unveiling of a statue of such a beast in nearby Bergues.
It’s a slightly hazy ruby amber colour with some yellowish bubbly head, and a malty nutty aroma with dense spice and a touch of hop resins. The palate is sweetish but beautifully biscuity with a sappy, meaty note of crystal malt and hints of red fruit and smoke.
A wash of hops heralds more roast and biscuity notes on the finish, with a very faint touch of coal dust in a soft, satisfying finish. Lovers of maltier, milder British bitters should find this very much to their taste – so do have a cow, dude.
Read more about this beer at ratebeer.com: http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/thiriez-la-rouge-flamande/12097/