Roeselare is a little tough to get too, but it us well worth the visit. Rodenbach is a beautiful brewery. The brewery grounds originally housed a malting facility as well. You can see the tall tower with an exhaust vent that rotated depending in the direction of the wind. They’ve since outsourced malting and converted it to a museum with a full “sound and light show” as they call it.
We were able to tag along on a tour in French. The tour was led by head brewer Rudi Ghequire. He was kind enough to translate in between stops. We were lucky to be able to ask all sorts of questions about their brewing process. A lot of the tours in Belgium are led by volunteers with limited knowledge, so we took full advantage of our opportunity.
At Rodenbach, the brewery is not the main attraction; it’s the 296 oak vats or “foeders.” They have two full time coopers to build and repair the oak vats, many of which are over 75 years old. The rows of oak vats are an impressive sight to behold.
Rodenbach gets it’s signature sour character from lactobacillus, which is added after primary fermentation when the beer is transferred to the oak vats. Check out the chart they created of all the different kinds of yeasts and bacterias – very educational.
Classic Rodenbach is 3/4 young beer and 1/4 three year old beer (we actually picked up a 4-pack of cans at a supermarket). Rodenbach Grand Cru is 2/3 aged beer and 1/3 young beer , so it is considerably more sour from longer exposure to lactobacillus. They actually served us foeder bier in a pitcher straight from the oak vat. We were able to track down a version of this beer on cask with a sparkler at De Zalm, one of only two bars in Roeselare (and the world) that serves it. The complex sour notes, intense oak character, and creamy mouthfeel are to die for.
Visit: Tours by appointment. Request an appointment via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on the web at http://www.rodenbach.be/en/rodenbachBezoek.php?page=feesten