Thankfully, to save me from my errors at the Belmont Station is the Duchesse. (Which I also got while buying Smithwick’s.)
What a fantastic beer. Apparently a traditional Flemish red ale, this beer has a plum color and a creamy velvet ivory head that seems to be borrowed from a Guinness that some bartender overdid. The faintly fruit sour nose made me think I was about to drink a lambic the first time I had this beer. There’s some red wine qualities here but mellowed out; the nose and the acidity all resemble red wine, though not a strong as wine can be. But the beer downplays the sour aspects, opting for a sweet tang that explodes everywhere, and then finishes pleasantly dry. It’s sweetness noses into the rest of the beer, making this much more complicated, and yet much more drinkable than most lambics might be. Some people are put off by the sourness in lambics, this Flemish ale provides the fruity punch of a lambic, but the sweet balance of a red, and goddamn if it doesn’t work.
It’s a bit pricey, so I don’t get to indulge in it often, but as the antidote to my hasty purchase of a very poor red it works perfectly.
I often think of my friend at Impy Malting when I drink this beer. On her last visit to Portland, I was able to introduce her to The Duchesse, in a pub in Southeast Portland where a hastily set up karaoke machine was hosting a group of revelers who insisted on singing Journey. We left shortly after drinking this beer, and had a great night overall, but I would have liked a little more time to sit there and enjoy this beer and her company.
But you know. Karaoke Journey. Gotta move away from that.
3 thoughts on “The Duchesse and I”
Did I tell you I found this beer at Whole Foods here? Probably not as unusual as I originally thought, given that people here really love Belgian beers– they are the “posh” option.
I have been saving it until I find appropriate glassware to drink it from. How geeky is that?
If that’s geeky than I have no hope.
I’m glad you found it there! It’s so good, it shouldn’t be confined to luckily stumbling across it at import markets.
That’s one thing about the Dutchesse. You can’t drink her from a bottle; she requires a glass.
Dutchesse reminded me of a well-aged balsamic vinegar: sourness and viscosity with sweetness to balance it all out. It’s a great beer.