poured an 11.2oz bottle into a goblet. It was bottled on 3/15/12 making
it just over a year old at the time. Oddly enough, the beer did not
appear to be bottle-conditioned.
Appearance: Extremely dark ruby red that appears to be opaque purple or
black depending on the light. Forms a small, dark pink, soapy head which
mostly evaporates and leaves trace lacing.
Smell: Dark, tart cherries. Sweet aroma but it seems authentic.
Taste: Beer nerds tend to scoff at fruit ales, unless they’re from
Belgium and have a high alcoholic content - then they’re classy. If you
were to give someone Kasteel Rouge blind they might mistake it for a
flavored malt beverage or maybe even a soda, though it lacks any overt
artificial flavoring found in those types of beverages. This beer is
pretty much all cherry all the time and yet it’s delicious and highly
regarded (and that’s okay with me).
Rich, sweet cherry flavor opens up the palate. It’s of the dark cherry
variety and tastes natural, nothing like the cough syrup taste of many
cherry wheat beers. The brewery’s website says it’s actually just a
blend of their Kasteel Donker (a Belgian Strong Dark Ale) and cherry
liqueur. I really can’t detect the base brew, which is ironic
considering the age of the bottle (I’d think the cherry would be the
flavor to fade). Almost no bitterness in the palette, which is fine. It
finishes with a tart bite of cherry and a fading sourness as it goes
down and finishes clean. I think the clean ending helps keep the beer
interesting and prevents it from being cloying. The last swig is as
tasty as the first. I wish the palette was a little more complex, for
such a monotonous brew it’s delicious and never becomes wearing.
Drinkability: Though technically a big beer, Kasteel Rouge is amazingly
drinkable, especially for a Belgian beer. It does not have the typical
Belgian yeast character, so the mouthfeel is thinner and much more calm
than you’re used to. For 8% ABV, there is no alcohol presence
whatsoever, making it refreshing while in the mouth and doesn’t sit
heavy on my system. If it weren’t so expensive and hard to find I’d be
drinking this all the time.