Mr. Ghequire has been Brewmaster at Rodenbach for more than 30 years and is caretaker of Rodenbach Grand Cru, a beer that the late great beer writer, Michael Jackson, referred to as a "World Classic" and "the Burgundy of Belgium."

My Proof:

Comments: 108 • Responses: 22  • Date: 

pricelessbrew23 karma

This is interesting.

Belgian brewers have a rather notorious reputation for being vague and closed off in regards to their techniques and process. How true do you find that to be, and how much of an impact has that had in your decision to host this ama?

RodenbachUSA30 karma

I can't speak for other brewers, but at Rodenbach we are open and we are delighted to talk to our fans about how we make our beers. So, I'm happy to be here today.

pricelessbrew10 karma

Awesome to hear. Thanks for taking the time to do this.

I know you guys have your own culture of yeast and microbes that has been used to inoculate the foeders. Have you experimented much with incorporating new strains into the mix or do you mostly keep to the traditional recipes and cultures?

What are the biggest issues you've experienced with the sour brews and how have you overcome any bad batches?

RodenbachUSA20 karma

Great question - thanks for asking. I can't speak for something that's happened over a hundred years ago, but since I've been brewing, we haven't had any bad batches. We stick with the traditional recipes for the most part, and we rely our own "zoo" of bacteria to inoculate the foeders and ensure consistency. My opinion is that you also have to respect your consumer, who expects this balance every time they drink a Rodenbach, so we brew with them in mind and stick with traditional methods.

pricelessbrew4 karma

Thanks for the info. That's amazing consistency, great job!

I've only ever seen grand cru available in michigan, USA, and it was amazing.

RodenbachUSA10 karma

There is also a beer finder widget on Hopefully you can find it in your area, but don't be afraid to ask your local beer store to carry it!

SirFancyMcFancePants11 karma

What is the best Geuze in Belgium and why is it an old Geuze Boon?

RodenbachUSA15 karma

You are correct - Geuze Boon!

Seabrew10 karma

Hello, thanks for stopping by to answer some questions! Does Rodenbach bottle condition its beer with the yeast it ferments with? I assume the beer would pick up other yeast and bacteria from the barrel aging process while it matures. Thanks for the reply.

RodenbachUSA16 karma

No, the beer is not bottle conditioned.

pricelessbrew6 karma

Are your beers pasteurized and force carbonated then, as I believe is the typical process for Flemish sours in order to prevent them from getting too dry or risking overcarbonation?

RodenbachUSA14 karma

Yes, you are correct. This ensures we are able to bring our beers all over the world in the best condition.

categorialNovum10 karma

First off, Rodenbach grand cru (espcecially the vintage bottles) is one of my favorites, so thanks for that :) Anyway, I've heard that breweries like Cantillon spray their walls with beer to maintain their culture and use open fermentation. What processes does Rodenbach perform that are unique or give it a house character?

RodenbachUSA11 karma

Thank you for being such a fan! We age our beer in oak vats (foeders) in which we find back our typical culture that matures the beer.

Mad_Ludvig8 karma

Hi Mr. Ghequire!! I have a Flemish Red inspired beer that's been fermenting for about 3 months with a variety of sour microbes. I'm planning on adding a small amount of oak to the batch for another few months, and then bottling after that. Any tips so I can take things to the next level?

Also, I'd love to try your beer but the nearest store that has some is about 600 miles away. Any chance you'll be expanding distribution in the US any time soon?

RodenbachUSA14 karma

Best tip I can offer is to take your time to achieve balance, which may require trial and error. If you have the benefit of time and can do it, I'd also suggest you bring the beer to the oak, and not the oak to the beer. As for distribution, so sorry to hear this - we are always looking to increase distribution, but please don't be afraid to ask your local store to carry it as well.

fractalsoflife6 karma

Thank you for your wonderful beers and this informative AMA.

Do you think Flanders Red and Bruin should be protected appellations like champagne or Trappist ale? Would a Flanders Red brewed in California be a Flanders Red?

Have you come across non-Belgian drinkers who confuse Rodenbach products from others in the style, as if Belgian beers are interchangeable? I have unfortunately seen this happen at craft beer bars, fortunately not specifically with Rodenbach but with other Belgian beers, where bartenders and patrons alike treat products that are less-well-known styles as interchangeable, when they definitely are not.

What was the most memorable (for good or bad) that you drank so far this year?

RodenbachUSA9 karma

This is a great question. Personally, I think it should be connected to its original region much like wines and spirits.

chinchillakilla6 karma

What does Grand Cru mean to you?

RodenbachUSA9 karma

A superior drink. Much like a super premium wine, something that you can enjoy and gives you something to talk about.

fishpup96 karma

Hello Mr. Ghequire. Can you tell us a little more about Rodenbach Alexander? Why did you decide to bring it back after such a long time? What makes it so special?

RodenbachUSA7 karma

Thanks for asking. We brought it back in large part because there was a large demand in the US and the response to its upcoming arrival has been very positive. We believe it's special because it carries the name of one of our founders and is celebration beer that honors the legacy of our brewery. Hope you enjoy!

Goobeeful5 karma

What's your favourite thing about your job?

RodenbachUSA15 karma

Thanks for asking - I'm actually a "foodie" and so I count myself lucky to work with a food. But, I love meeting so many people who enjoy the beer and food pairings.

Hargules4 karma

How did you first begin brewing? What was your first brew? Was it a success or an utter failure?

RodenbachUSA5 karma

I took over responsibility from Jacques Lambert who took it over from his father - at that time, I was 23. My first brew was Rodenbach and I've been brewing that ever since!

fierceflossy3 karma

Did you start out homebrewing or was your first brew on the commercial scale?

RodenbachUSA7 karma

My first brew was on a commercial scale, but I've experimented by brewing at home as well.

MattBaster4 karma

What flavors have you brewed and instantly knew, upon first taste, that you'd never make a batch like that again?

RodenbachUSA12 karma

We've stayed true to the types of beers we've brewed for centuries, and have in recent years experimented with various fruits which we knew would be a great compliment to the beers.

rmckenzie7213 karma

What advice would you give to a person looking to open their own brewery in the US?

RodenbachUSA12 karma

Consistency, quality and originality are key. Don't rush the product - make sure it is balanced and correctly brewed.

kadozen13 karma

Are there any beers that you love that would surprise us?

RodenbachUSA6 karma

I love the story behind the beer - a beer with real history, not something made up to sell or to market. Something complex and well-balanced that has a consistent taste. I always look for something unique as well.

suaveitguy3 karma

Cans or bottles?

RodenbachUSA17 karma

Most of our offerings are in bottles right now, but stay tuned....

mujtabaq3 karma

If Rodenbach Grand Cru stopped becoming available, what other beers like it would you enjoy drinking?

RodenbachUSA6 karma

Is there something you know that I don't? We expect Grand Cru to continue brewing for many generations to come, but I'm sure you would also enjoy trying a vintage Rodenbach from time to time...

TransitJohn3 karma

I used to brew professionally here in the US. What do you think about how US craft brewers are changing the styles brewed in Europe? I've seen "American IPAs," "American Belgians" etc. Thanks in advance!

RodenbachUSA9 karma

I think it's great they are inspired by European / Belgian styles and that they are making something that is unique to their area as an expression of their place. So, I think it's great that more brewers are listening to their audiences and brewing beers that will be well received by them.

sp8ial1 karma

Howrjhd doijn Rudi Ghequire. I am a lover of ales. I think I have an allergy or something because when I drink Belgian ales I get a headache and a hangover. Any theories? Weird ingredients? I know they are fermented at a higher temperature, thus creating a more complex array of phenols. Thank you!

RodenbachUSA2 karma

So sorry to hear this. Does this happen with all ales? Has it happened when you drink Rodenbach beers?

SirFancyMcFancePants1 karma

There are a lot of great breweries around the world, probably more than there are Belgians. What do you think separates (in the most general sense) the style and diversity of Belgian beer from the rest of the world? Do you think it will remain that way for many more years, or are Belgian breweries at risk of being outclassed in good beer? (Tons of different beers in other countries, so a lot of them are bound to be excellent)

RodenbachUSA2 karma

It's great there are so many breweries giving consumers what they want and crafting terrific, complex beers. Like any brewer, they have to defend their position - but I think it's important for brewers to continue to innovate and create consistent, balanced beers. If they do that, their fans will keep coming back.