Madame Rose is a crimson colored Belgian style brown ale fermented with wild yeast and aged on cherries in wine barrels. Layers of malty complexity, sour cherry, spice and wood notes make Madame Rose an ideal beer to suggest to Bordeaux enthusiasts and beer drinkers fond of Belgian Kriek and Flanders Brown Ales.
It’s no secret that my favorite sour beers tend to be sour browns. From the drier American Style Sour Brown to the classic slightly malt driven Oud Bruin I find myself enjoying these most of all. For my tastes I can usually find a sour brown that is either more “funk” forward or one that has just enough acidity to let me know it’s there to go with most meals. Madame Rose seems to fall in the middle of styles and “funk” for me, but this is no middle of the road beer…
Appearance– Pours a hazy and murky copper-bronze. A little bit lighter than the color of a standard brown beer bottle. A thin off white/light khaki colored head that for the most part fades fairly quickly. A small bit of head creates a circle in the glass around the edge that stays on and provides a slight lacing during the drink.
Aroma– Malt sweetness and cherries are the first aromas I notice. Light vinegar and lactic sourness followed by hints of oaky vanilla. A slight breadiness on the nose.
Taste– Upfront on the taste is cherry and a perfect amount of subtle malt sweetness. The Brett flavor works well with those 2 providing an almost brown sugar flavor (not brown sugar sweetness). Near the end I pick up an acidic red wine/sherry flavor. Not really the flavor I would get from an oxidized beer, but a true wine/sherry flavor. A vinegar and oak finish rounds out the sip.
Overall– This is the first beer (besides my own) that reminds me of the old Liefmans Goudenband spirit. This beer is full of great balance. Even though there are tastes and aromas that come out first, Goose Island has done a fantastic job of keeping them all in check. There is not really one of the major components that vastly overshadows another. Usually I like to cellar a beer for sometime, but I believe this is one that you drink shortly after the release. The balance is so perfect, I think cellaring would turn a fantastic beer into just a good beer. To sum it up, this is an awesome beer that is very easy drinking, but somehow remains complex. I would recommend this beer to a novice or an experienced craft beer lover.
Recipe information per Goose Island
Alcohol by Volume: 6.5%
International Bitterness Units: 25
Color: Deep Crimson
Malt: 2-Row, Caramel, Wheat, Dark Chocolate, Victory