This is a repost of an old piece I did last year. God bless Belgium.
“My legacy is my beer. I hope that it will continue to live.”
– Rosa Merckx, former Head Brewmaster of Brewery Liefmans
This week I’m highlighting Brewery Ommegang‘s delicious Rosetta, a Belgian Kriek (“kriek” meaning “cherry”) blend named after Rosa Merckx, the first female brewmaster of Belgium’s Brewery Liefmans. Brewmaster Rosa goes by the moniker ‘Madame Rose,’ which is also the name of Goose’s Island Beer Company‘s wild-fermented Belgian style brown ale, aged on cherries in wine barrels; Merckx truly is an influential figure in the realm of Belgian beers.
Rosa began her career at Liefmann’s as the brewery secretary, and when the head brewmaster asked her to taste his beer, she told him that it was much too sour. Based upon her recommendation, the brewmaster changed the recipe and before she knew it, Merckx was taking mid-brew measurements and then brewing alongside him. She eventually took his place, and held the title of Brewmaster for 46 years at Liefmans. You can watch more of Rosa’s story here.
Brewery Leifmans is located about an hour’s drive west of Brussels, in Oudenaarde. Rosetta was brewed and blended at Liefmans per the recipe and instruction of Brewery Ommegang’s head Brewmaster, Phil Leinhart. In making this beer, Leinhart set out to create a concoction that was more fruity than tart. In his own words, “To me Rosetta is a very well blended, balanced and drinkable beer…..”moreish” as they say.” And it definitely kept me coming back for “more,” with a fruity nose, balanced body and flavors, and a dry finish.
Rosetta is a blend of Leifman’s Kriek Brut (a cherry ale) and their Oud Bruin (a sour brown ale). Kriek Brut was aged for 18 months on Gorsem cherries, a fruity variety cultivated specially for Rosetta by the Briffoz family of cherry farmers, in Belgium itself. Another interesting note from Leinhart, Liefmans uses no wood in their beer-aging process. A defining characteristic of sour brown versus sour red beers, “the absence of wood in the process creates a very clean, lactic sourness.”
Note: My illustration depicts the flavor and aroma notes I detected in Rosetta, not necessarily the ingredients.
Ommegang Rosetta Tasting Notes
Appearance: This 5.6% ABV kriek is a clear, reddish-brown with ruby red and copper highlights, and an effervescent head of bubbles that fizz and dissipate quickly
Aroma: Strong cherry aroma with toffee, caramel, and hints of toast and lemon peel
Mouthfeel: Effervescent, medium-thin, scrubs the palette dry
Flavor: Tart cherries mingle with notes reminiscent of lemon peel and pomegranate. A late caramel sweetness rounds out this layered blend as it finishes with a teensy hint of malt backbone
In my opinion, Rosetta absolutely achieves Brewmaster Leinhart’s goal of a fruit forward, balanced beer. It’s safe to say that Brewmaster Merckx’s legacy will live on for a long time.
Santé, and many thanks to Brewmaster Leinhart and to Duvel for your input about the making of this beer.