Vignette # 17: Rudi Ghequire (Rodenbach)

Until the 1970s, Rodenbach had a coolship and did spontaneous fermentation (which is what Ghequire is referring to in the first sentence). The brewery used to supply yeast to a number of area breweries, which is one reason a typical flavor developed among makers of wood-aged beer in Flanders.

“When you re-use the yeast culture that has formed during the spontaneous fermentation process, then you have the possibility of a very good culture. Then, when you reuse it, you have arrived at ‘mixed fermentation.’ In our [process] we work with a yeast culture with eight different yeast strains and also a little bit of lactic bacterias. During the first week, we have an alcoholic fermentation from the yeast cells, and after one week the lactic bacteria took it over during the lagering time. During the lagering time we reduce the yeast cells in the beer by precipitation, and then we go with a nearly bright, young beer to the wood."

The big difference between spontaneous fermentation and mixed fermentation is with spontaneous you go with wort on wood and we go with young beer.

"The beer has an alcoholic protection, so it is less risky.  After two years, you have a very acid beer. And then you blend that acid beer together with young beer to reduce the acidity in your blend. That is the philosophy of this brewery: it’s conservation by acidity.”

VignetteJeff Alworth