Beer Man: Castle's Kasteel Rouge is a Belgian beauty
Castle Brewery Van Honsebrouck, Ingelmunster, Belgium
8 percent ABV
Kasteel Rouge is a Belgian cherry beer that is unique even among the dozens available from that country.
The brewery is coy about how the beer is made. Information on the bottle states “Belgian ale with cherries and cherry juice added.” However, the brewery’s website specifically says, “Kasteel Rouge is a blend of Kasteel Donker and cherry liqueur used in the confectionary world.”
I’m inclined to believe the latter as the beer seemed to have something of the rich, oily body that fine liqueurs have and one-of-a-kind flavors that the regular Belgian cherry beers don’t have.
The basic Donker beer is described as creamy with chocolate, banana, licorice and raisin flavors. The fruit flavor overshadowed most of these with a dark cherry flavor and brown sugar notes ending with a buttery, rum-like finish.
The cherry added a deep, dark red color to the beer and the carbonation was solid without becoming spritzy. The sweetness was balanced by a slight tartness that prevented it from becoming candy-like.
I had no problem wrapping my taste buds around the cherry liqueur content — there are plenty of excellent cherry lambics and other ales from Belgium, with none of them having the flavor profile of Rouge.
Other ales in the Kasteel portfolio include a tripel, blonde and Cuvee du Chateau, an 11-percent ABV, 10-year aged version of Donker. The Van Honsebrouck company also makes St. Louis Premium Kriek Lambic, Brigand blonde ale and Bacchus Old Flemish Brown.
Kasteel is imported by Wetten Importers of Sterling, Va.; its website with distributor information is at www.wettenimporters.com. The site shows a map of the United States and visitors can click on the state of their choice to find distributor contact info in order to track down availability.
Also worth mentioning, but limited to Wisconsin residents, is Serendipity Happy Accident Fruit Ale from New Glarus Brewing Co., made in the style of its award-winning Belgian Red Cherry and Raspberry Tart ales. Poor weather conditions in Wisconsin this year (early spring wild temperature swings and then drought) resulted in bad harvests for both cherries and apples, so brewmaster Dan Carey made a blend of these with cranberries. The 4-percent ABV ale has a nice cherry-apple balance, with the cranberries adding a touch of sharpness. It is less sour than the cherry and raspberry beers, but is not a lesser beer for it.
Beer Man sez: Kasteel’s Rouge cherry ale is in a class all its own.
— Todd Haefer of Scandinavia, Wis., gets paid to drink beer and write about it for Weekend. He can be reached at email@example.com. Read past reviews at www.postcrescent.com/beerman.