Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Whale A Week: Goose Island Madame Rose 2012

Last week we finished up our series of Surly Anniversary beers from Four to Eight!  This week we take a trip back to sour territory with Goose Island's Madame Rose 2012.  This bottle was donated by Keith Brady from his cellar for our enjoyment!

Goose Island Madame Rose 2012

I've already discussed my love-hate relationship with Goose Island in my previous post about Bourbon County Coffee Stout, as well as my recent vitriolic post about AB-Inbev and their lack of understanding of craft beer fans.  So I won't go into that stuff again here.  

Madame Rose is described thus on the Goose Island web page: "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."  Made with 2-row, wheat, carapils, special B, and chocolate malt.  The web page also kindly has food and cheese pairing ideas.  The bottle claims that the beer will age up to 5 years.  The fermentation of this beer is much like that seen in Rodenbach and other Flanders Red and Flanders Brown style beers--using a mixed culture of lactobacillus, pediococcus, and brettanomyces.  

Madame Rose got its name from the first female brewmaster in Belgium, Rosa Merckx of Leifman's Brewery.  Currently 88 years old, she continues to have a hand in that brewery famous for its sour fruit beers.  Click HERE for a little more background on her.  Leifmans is known for their paper wrapped bottles, you know you've seen them at the liquor store and wondered about them!  Their Goudenband is an amazing Flanders sour that ages well--I got to try a 20 year old bottle of it at The Kulminator beer bar in Antwerp a few years back that was stellar!

The first release of Madame Rose was in 2010.  I won a bottle of this in a silent auction for a very special young lady with cancer.  The beer was wonderful and full of tart flavors, but I remember it not having enough cherry flavor for our tastes.  At the time my wife and I decided that we liked Juliet (blackberry) and Lolita (raspberry) of "The Sisters" the most.   After aging the next batch for nearly two years, the next release of this beer was in 2012.  This past year, 2014, they released their third batch, using some new techniques and sour cultures.  I have not managed to get my hands on the 2014 yet.  I'm unsure of the quantity of the beer being made, but the Madame Rose seems to be the hardest to find of any of Goose Island's sour ladies series.  Madame Rose has a current rating of 93 on BeerAdvocate and a 99 on RateBeer.  Both of these ratings are aggregate numbers including all three vintages.

Our bottle was one of the old style bomber 22 oz bottles from before Goose Island moved to the fancier wine-type bottles.  Bottled 7/31/2012.  ABV 7.1%.  Goose Island was bought by AB-Inbev in 2011, so this batch was most likely brewed prior to the buy-out but bottled afterward.  As such I can drink it with impunity and lack of guilt.  

This tasting took place at Mike and Kristin Lebben's basement bar.  Mike is a hardcore brewer with a fantastic Sabco brew system in his basement.  Kristin is not a beer expert, but has a great palate.  And Keith is one of the best homebrewers I know, who specializes in hoppy beers.  We all tasted separately and took notes on our impressions, with further discussion afterward.


Eric: Very tart acetic acid aroma, followed by a very classic funky barnyard Brett character.  Dark and tart cherry wafts out after that initial sour slap on the nose.  My mouth puckers just from the aroma.  Earthy, as well as almond, cinnamon, and cherry pit.
Keith: Tart, sour, cherries, touch of malt, spice, slight acetic aroma.  Very pleasant.  Honey.
Mike: Funky-good-horse blanket.  Cherry.
Kristin: Funk!  Fresh floral and old barn board.  Happiness :)


Deep copper to almost light brown in color.  Mike describes it as a very specific "Denny's decaf diner brown."  Very fine white head that leaves a faint lace.  Slightly hazy.


Eric: Up front crazy tartness!  Acid as well as complex aged and Brett flavors. Tart aged cherries like baked cherry pie, but more sour.  Has an almost salty note at times, but not in a bad way.  Tannic, woody, pit bite to it resulting in a dry finish. Somewhat oxidized with an almost metallic note.  Mouthfeel fairly thin.  Carbonation is appropriate. 
Keith: Robust, tart, sour up front.  Slight malt in the middle.  Whole lot of dried fruit sour on the end.  Acetic?  Dries the front of the tongue.  Mouthfeel a little weird.
Kristin: Nirvana.  Sour cherry funk.  Clean.  Crisp.  Dry.

Overall: Average rating 5/5!

Eric: A fantastic beer!  Quite complex with a character that changes with every sip.  Crazy different cherry notes from tart, sour, dried, cooked.  Much better than the 2010 I tried a few years ago that was somewhat disappointing.  This was anything but!  5
Keith: Wow!  Very nice sour cherries still come through well.  Hint of malt in the middle is nice.  Really wreaks havoc on your tongue!!  Pissed I didn't buy 5! 5
Mike: Complex!  Many different stages as you drink. 5
Kristin: Beautiful.  My tongue is doing the happy dance.  I can die now. This one was actually Brewed The Hard Way. 5

I think you can tell what we all thought of this beer!  Thanks go out to Keith for sharing this wonderful cherry sour.  I found the cherry character in this one to be well above that of the disappointing 2010 bottle, so I'm guessing that the brewery has increased the amount of cherry in the beer since that first batch.

Next week we move to the sweeter side with Lost Abbey Angel's Share 2013 Vintage.  Tune in!

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