Petrus Aged Pale Ale

If you are unfamiliar with the beer craze that has swept the United States over the past several years, sour beers, through a variety of styles, have made a significant comeback.  Most people will agree that there is nothing more refreshing on a hot summer day then a cold, tart, Berliner Weisse or a salty, sour Gose.  Originating in Western Europe, sour beers used to be standard procedure, in that all beers were sour to some degree.  Before commercial brewing yeast was even an idea and Louis Pasteur gave us an understanding of micro-organisms, brewers trusted wild yeasts such as Brettanomyces, Pediococcus, or Lactobacillus to ferment their beers.  Belgian monks were known for raising great troughs of wort (pronounced “wert” (pre-fermented beer)) high up to open windows and let the Belgian breeze work its magic.  In fact, it is Belgium in which most sour beers tend to originate from, home to the likes of the Flanders Red Ale, Lambic (fruity beers typically under 4% ABV) and Oud Bruin.  While these bacteria remain popular today, giving beer lots of funk, the effects can still be achieved using modern brewing techniques, which brings us to the origin of the Petrus Aged Pale.

In 1894, a farmer by the name of Adolphe De Brabandere was granted permission by the town of Bavikhove, Belgium to start the Brouwerij De Brabandere.  That same year Adolphe’s son Joseph began his first brew.  Known particularly for the Oud Bruin, the De Brabandere family continued to expand the success of the brewery throughout the second half of the 20th century.  This was achieved by reaching out to different market segments, including restaurants, department stores, and even sponsoring a local football team.

Despite the brewery’s success, the Aged Pale was not a product until nearly 100 years after the brewery’s start.  It took several visits in the late 1990’s from the legendary “Beer Hunter”, Michael Jackson.  Originally, what is known as the Aged Pale began as a base beer for the brewery’s Oud Bruin.  Not only was it an expensive beer to make, being aged in enormous oak barrels, called foeders, but it was considered too sour to market.  After Jackson’s third visit to the brewery, he finally convinced current owner, Ignace De Brabandere to let him purchase some of the base beer on two conditions: that he must purchase 75 hectolitres (equivalent to nearly 2,000 gallons) and he must name the beer.  Given the color of the beer and the two and a half years it spends in the foeders, Jackson named the beer Aged Pale.  It was first available to Jackson’s exclusive beer clubs in England and the United States before becoming available in Belgium.  After people had tasted the beer it became immensely popular, coming on to the market in 2001.  Even 14 years later, it continues to be highly regarded and sought-after worldwide.

Petrus Aged Pale

Petrus Aged Pale

Appearance: Light amber/yellow, clear.  Big lacy white head, some retention.

Smell: Straight Brettanomyces.

Taste: The Brett yeast hits quickly, followed by a slight bitterness.  Finishes malty with noticeable oak.

Mouth: Light to medium body.

Overall: A nice sour beer, not the best I’ve sampled.  Bitterness is a little strong for my taste but very nice for sticking to tradition.  Keep this beer in mind when warmer temps return.

-Douglas, Divine Wines