Pfriem Family Brewers has been making large strides in the beer scene since opening in 2012. The ever-growing list of excellent beers focused on Belgian styles, from sours to wits and not to mention some stellar food offerings, has been winning over the casual visitor and the beer connoisseurs alike. The Hood River, Oregon brewery’s ongoing success has led the brewery to expand its operation earlier this year. With a new line of barrel-aged brews and beer by the bottle for the first time, Pfriem covers the spectrum from year-round staples to small-batch seasonals.
Their first of their barrel-aged beers to be available by the bottle is the Flanders Red Ale, a Pinot Noir barrel-aged ale, made in the old tradition of West Flanders in Belgium. This beer represents the culmination of years of appreciation and mouthwatering envy from Pfriem founder Josh Pfriem. “Although I was a fan of the style for some time, it wasn’t until I went to Belgium and was able to walk the halls of Founders at Rodenbach that I was truly inspired,” Pfriem says.
While the Flanders style may be common in Belgium, it has had rather a more troubled life here in the States. “This is a rarer style in the U.S., it’s a harder beer to master,” says Pfriem. “One thing that saddened me is that a lot of commercial operations are pasteurized and back-sweetened. I wanted Pfriem’s Flanders’ to represent what these beers once were, rather then mimic current commercial operations.”
On the first pour of the Flanders Red, you’ll note the lighter red tones with a healthy head of foam and aromas of cherries, orange zest and just a hint of tobacco. The use of French oak barrels makes its presence felt in a big way on the palate. Round-bodied flavors of leather and wine are prevalent, along with a strong tart cherry presence, brought to you by a wild yeast fermentation that followed the traditional Belgian ale and Brettanomyces yeast strains. The 18-24 months the beer spends in oak barrels, which includes some minor interaction with oxygen, adds a Sherry-like feel to this interpretation of the Flanders Red.
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