Imagine if “The View” was a Beer…


I was in the beer aisle of my favorite store the other day, when one of the employees breathlessly raced to the shelf and grabbed at a bottle of Duchesse De Bourgogne.  He saw that I noticed his exuberance and probably felt he needed to explain himself.  “Have you tried this one?” he asked, his face beaming as he held up the bottle, “we’re opening another one out back!”  I hadn’t, and I asked him what it was like.  He didn’t know where to start.  It’s sour, but sweet, fruity but still like beer; he really struggled to sum it up.  The best he could manage was “you just gotta try it” before hurrying back to the storeroom. And I agreed.  Any beer that is so complex and unexplainable must be sampled.  In the cart it went.

That night, my buddy Frank arrived with an armful of the beers he received from his mother-in-law for his birthday.  (I have to remember to thank her for bankrolling this week’s reviews, by the way).  Anyway, Frank brought over some must-try beers, but I was determined to get this one into the mix – I had to see what all the hubbub was about and wanted as many reactions as possible, especially from our wives…

photo-4Duchesse De Bourgogne is a Flanders red ale from Belgium.  It poured dark reddish-brown in the glass and had a lovely foamy head that quickly dissipated.  It smelled strongly of a caramel maltiness, and I could detect a hints of raspberry and apples as well.  Upon the first sip, I was greeted with a lot of flavor; first sour, then sweet caramel, then a raspberry finish.  It struck me that it tasted EXACTLY like a raspberry caramel out of a box of Russell Stovers chocolates, especially after my brain compensated for the sour taste.


That's Better, Babs!

Let’s cut to the chase here.  The easiest way to classify this beer is probably not the most politically correct, but I’ll do it anyway.  Instead of the lovely Duchesse of the label, they should have a picture of Barbara Walters.  Because this is the biggest chic beer I’ve ever tasted.  And before you come down on me for being small-minded about this brew or for being sexist, wait until you hear how the ladies liked it.

Actually “liked” isn’t the word – they LOVED it!  They gushed about.  The pitch of their voices went up and their words came quickly as they expressed their delight to one another.  Their eyes twinkled and they held their tulip glasses with loosely bent wrists, smiling, smelling and tasting their new “fave” beer.  Basically, the room transformed into juicy gab session right before our eyes.  All we needed was Whoopi and Joy and we would have been ready to roll tape.

Meanwhile Frank and I couldn’t finish ours and quickly pawned them off to our ladyfriends, who gratefully accepted.

So that was my experience with the Duchesse De Bourgogne Flanders Red Ale.  As you may know, I’m not a big lambic fan, so that might have played into my reaction.  I know this beer is highly rated, but I really can’t tell you why.  But I’m pretty sure my wife can.  At length.

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16 Comments on “Imagine if “The View” was a Beer…”

  1. Don
    October 1, 2009 at 12:19 pm #

    So do you think the store clerk that went gaga over the bottle in front of you was say batting for the other team (not that there is anything wrong with that)…? Or perhaps his palate just ran to the sweeter side of things. I think a lot of people who like the idea of beer but not actually the flavor tend to gravitate towards sweet frufru beers. I once had a woman describe a fruit flavored Belgian beer as “wonderful…It doesn’t even taste like beer!” No thank you.

  2. Jim
    October 1, 2009 at 12:23 pm #

    To each there own, but this one was definitely not to my taste. I’m not big on fruity beers, but I imagine the guy at the store was, as he was really pumped up about it. He said the guys really liked it to, so this might be a case of a beer that a lot of people enjoy, but I do not. Happens.

  3. October 1, 2009 at 2:11 pm #

    Jim, does your wife read this blog? That last line is going to bring you some grief! Bob reviewed this one over on The Brew Club, and rated it highly as well. I haven’t had it myself but generally liking Lambics I’ll give it a whirl someday.

    • Jim
      October 1, 2009 at 2:22 pm #

      I keep telling her to check the blog out, but she has no interest so I’m probably safe.

      It was really striking how the ladies responded to this one. Both of them are not girly-girls; they are mellow, fun ladies that can just hang out. That’s why their transformation into the cast from Sex in the City was so startling to us.

      Please give this one a try sometime. As I’ve said before, I’m hit and miss with fruity beers, and this one was a miss for me. I think I’m in the minority, though, as all I’ve heard are good things (from men and ladies alike).

  4. Katie Pizzuto
    February 18, 2010 at 6:56 pm #

    OK, so I realize I’m late to the game on this post, but better late than never. Dude, are you nuts?! I say that in the nicest way possible, but GEEZ! I know a lot of guys that swear by this ale and I’m pretty damned sure they aren’t light in the loafers. Perhaps it’s not a matter of a “guy beer” or a “girl beer” and simply a matter of preference. I’m reminded of men that have absolutely no interest in white wine, proclaiming it a “girl’s wine” and yet I know dozens of others who would gladly pick up an intriguing white wine over an insipid red wine, no matter how sissy they come off looking. What I will say is that this fantastic beer does tend to find fans in the wine world. It is, if anything, a wine-lover’s beer….that I’d capitulate. But I find room in my life for loving both “manly” hopped-up, 120-minute IPAs and cask-aged stouts, AND the mind-bending sour beers and Lambics of Belgium. That being said, Don is now my favorite to get the truffles….you are officially on the shit list until you change my mind 🙂

    • February 18, 2010 at 7:08 pm #

      I’ve tried, Katie, I’ve tried. Since this post, I purchased the Duchesse and served it with beef for Christmas dinner. It was still too sweet for me and I found it difficult to finish the bottle.

      I also gave a bottle of this to a friend who is a big wine lover as a holiday gift, along with an Allagash Victoria and Trade Winds Tripel from the Bruery, to show just how sophisticated beer can be.

      So I get that people love this beer and I have tried to love it myself. But alas, no such thing. I’ll capitulate on the girlie stuff though – it just struck me in that moment that all the women in the room loved this beer and the guys couldn’t finish it. Not because it was girlie, just because it was sweet.

      But it did sent the ladies right into chick mode. That I can’t deny, even if truffles are on the line! 😉

  5. Katie Pizzuto
    February 19, 2010 at 9:21 am #

    Oh, I’m not saying you should “learn to love it”. By all means, that’s what differences in tastes are for. I’ve just always found that Duchesse manages to balance the sweet/sour aspects well. Did your friend like it? Also curious….you sure the women all loved it simply because it was sweet? Is that what they said, or are you guessing that’s why?

    • February 19, 2010 at 10:14 am #

      My friend thought it was awful and actually poured it out after a few unsuccessful attempts to warm up to the taste.

      My wife tends to go for the bigger flavored beers, just like me. Her favorite is Victory Storm King Stout, which should give you an idea of what she likes in a beer. So a beer doesn’t need to be sweet or wine-like to appeal to her. Her friend Lisa, on the other hand, goes for sweet wines, so I could see why the Duchesse was a hit with her.

      What I tried to capture in the post was the transformation this beer brought upon the women in the room. Both my wife and Lisa aren’t girlie-girls, they are smart, practical, strong and beautiful ladies who usually have very low key and meaningful conversations. But as they sipped the Duchesse, they went into “gossip” mode, like they were with a group of women at girls night out. It was quite a difference from a few moments before, and I think it was the Duchesse that brought it on. meanwhile my friend and I grimaced back a few sips and he poured his out and I gave mine to my wife, which she happily accepted.

      And they both said things like “this is so sweet and delicious” and :it’s like raspberry candy,” so I’m confident that it was the sweetness that won them over.

      • February 19, 2010 at 1:32 pm #

        Wow, just goes to show you how radically different palates can be….I got absolutely NO “raspberry candy” out of it at all. In fact, I gave it to my 11-year-old son to sniff (I always do that with beers and wines) and the first word out of his mouth was “prunes” followed by “raisins” both of which I completely agree with, and though I got cherries out of it, I certainly wouldn’t have said candy….lots of sour brews have that cherry aspect to them. Oh well, more Duchesse for me, I guess!

        • February 19, 2010 at 1:37 pm #

          More for you indeed. Just stay away from my Dragon’s Milk! 😉

          I do the same thing with my kids. It’s cool when they pick out certain aromas. They’ll only be drinking the best warm beers in the woods when they’re 15!

  6. February 19, 2010 at 2:39 pm #

    Can’t say I’ll stay away from that…LOL. No doubt my kid will be right there with them….probably disagreeing with their tasting notes 🙂

    • Don
      February 19, 2010 at 3:31 pm #

      Just remember Katie to send the truffles to Idaho…I don’t know about you , but I haven’t heard anything from Jim in this discourse that would take him off of your Shit List.

      • February 19, 2010 at 3:58 pm #

        Hey, wait a minute! Katie and I are solid – our kids are future warm- beers-in-the-woods drinking buddies!

      • February 19, 2010 at 4:08 pm #

        True enough, Jim, but at least Don came over and commented on my Duchesse post. Brownie points, bub.

        • February 19, 2010 at 4:21 pm #



  1. Duchesse De Bourgogne: Or How My Brother Jim Is An Idiot | Beer & Whiskey Brothers Blog - November 29, 2011

    […] and his feelings about this beer are  no exception.  Jim’s thoughts about the Duchesse are well documented here, and I couldn’t disagree […]

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