After making sours for nearly two centuries in Belgium, Rodenbach will be spending some time Delaware.
With the emergence of craft beer, America has come a long way in developing its own unique beer culture over the past five decades, but in Belgium, their beer culture dates back centuries. For instance, Brouwerij Rodenbach was founded in 1821 — a full eight years before “America’s oldest brewery,” Yuengling — and, to this day, it still makes acclaimed and distinctly Belgian beer like the “Classic” Flanders red sour and the cherry-spiked Alexander. In all that time, Rodenbach has apparently never made a collaboration beer — in part because today’s massive collaboration scene is mostly a modern construct. But just because the brewery uses traditional practices doesn’t mean it's averse to change, so Rodenbach has announced plans to release its first ever collab brew with Delaware’s Dogfish Head Brewery.
For now, details on the actual beer are scarce. Unlike most beer styles which can be churned out in a couple weeks, traditional sours typically require plenty of aging. As a result, Dogfish Head and Rodenbach explain that this project is only “in its early stages” with the results slated for an American release early next year. One thing is certain, however: The beer will be a sour. “We spoke a lot about how Rodenbach’s traditional methods of brewing and blending, dating back centuries would heavily influence the direction of the beer, and that began the foundation for our collaborative brainstorming,” David van Wees, President of Swinkels Family Brewers Imports, Rodenbach’s North American importer, said in the announcement. “It was amazing to watch these two icons work so closely together and see the magic happen as wheels started spinning about what a final product could look like.”
“We intend to take our time and get it right for a beer of this magnitude, and in order do that we have to go to where it all began — to Roeselare, Belgium,” Dogfish Head Founder Sam Calagione added. “The brainstorming will continue overseas, as [Rodenbach’s Master Brewer Rudi Ghequire] and I explore the region together, explore the area’s culinary influence and experience the legendary brewery and cooperage which undoubtedly will serve as a huge inspiration behind the beer we create.”
But regardless of the outcome, Ghequire sees even the announcement of a collaboration as a huge step. “This is an historic moment for our brewery,” he said. “Not only is the time right for this partnership as sour beer has become more popular than ever before (thanks in large part to Dogfish Head’s SeaQuench Ale), but we found an incredible partner and kindred spirit in Sam Calagione and the Dogfish Head brewing team.”
Interestingly, despite Dogfish Head having produced plenty of sour brews, most of the discussion in the announcement is around the brand’s popular SeaQuench Ale — which is on the tart and thirst-quenching side of the sour spectrum. Meanwhile, Rodenbach’s signature Flanders red ales are ruby-hued and malt-driven with a touch of natural sweetness — a significantly different flavor profile than Dogfish Head’s popular creation. So which direction will the collaboration head? It’s would seem that maybe even the brewers themselves aren’t yet sure.