This beer is a Flanders Red Ale, named after Duchess Mary of Burgundy, the only daughter of Charles the Bold. Charles was also known as Charles the Rash, apparently for his propensity to corner dermatologists at cocktail parties with awkward questions.
In his later years, he became Charles the Batshit Crazy. After getting his ass handed to him twice by the Duke of Lorraine and some Swiss mercenaries, he returned with a fresh group of unwitting subjects to strut right up to the walls of the Lorraine capital. In the ensuing unpleasantness, he became Charles the Open-Minded after his head was cleaved by the business-end of an halberd. As his only heir, Mary became the Duchesse de Bourgogne, but died shortly thereafter in a horse riding accident. Why did Brouwerij Verhaeghe name a beer after her? Hell if I know.
This beers pours like a cherry Coke. It smells like a red wine cork left on the counter for a couple hours (slightly sour with a musty, earthy funk). There are also some malty notes floating around in there. It tastes like a cranberry fruit roll-up and a glass of Pinot noir that has notes of cherry, with a little oak occasionally stopping by unannounced. All this, against the background of perfectly-balanced caramel sweetness, reminding you that this is, in fact, a beer. And for its last feat, it finishes surprisingly dry and clean, considering its sweet, sour, and tannic qualities..
I love this beer. Wine drinkers who think they don’t like beer, try it. Beer drinkers interested in dipping their toe in the sour beer pool, try it. Everyone else…try it, and, like Charles, remember to keep an open mind.
The Haybag: This post is giving me a splitting headache. See what I did there?