Petrus Oud Bruin
Brewery: De Brabandere Brewery
Flanders Oud Bruin
It’s not common to come across a business that has been owned and operated by the same family this long, especially in a part of the world that was in the center of two world wars. In 1894 beer enthusiast Adolphe De Brabandere and his son Jozef started the brewery in Bavikhove, Belgium. The brewery withstood the wars and family tragedies. The small operation stayed afloat by selling their pilsner beer to local cafés and direct to consumers until 1950 when Albert De Brabandere was old enough to lead the company. It was Albert who started working with wholesalers to grow the brewery’s distribution and in 1975 his son Ignace began to focus more and more on export, even sponsoring sports teams and events to expand brand awareness internationally. Now in its fifth generation of De Brabandere leadership, the brewery is one of Belgium’s most important independent brewers, exporting to more than 55 countries.
Flanders Oud Bruin Style
This centuries-old style is often looked at as a “gateway sour” because it has a lightly sour taste combined with a richer, sweet maltiness. This balance is achieved in a simple but time-consuming process of aging a purposely sour beer with a freshly brewed malt-forward beer, then aging the blend a bit more. The sour side of the equation is sour and tart but not exactly bitter like an IPA. Just for context, let’s use the International Bitterness Unit as a guide. A typical aged sour will have IBUs in the low 20s while a typical IPA will be in the 60s. What aged sour brings to the blend is that bright, fruity, and mouth-watering sour flavor. After aging, the brewmaster blends in a percentage of young brown ale; this brings the malty sweetness to the resulting Oud Bruin, which translates to Old Brown.
How’d you get so sour?
The key to this intentional souring of the beer is in the massive foeders or oak barrels. In the case of De Brabandere, they employ 27 foeders. Each foeder holds over 5,800 gallons of Petrus Aged Pale. The Aged Pale is the mother beer for the entire Petrus range. After production, the beer is aged in these foeders for 2 years where the micro-organisms that live in the barrel convert the sugars that remain after the initial fermentation into acids, more alcohol, and esters. The resulting beer is a deliciously sour and refreshing beer with a 7.3% alcohol content. The interesting thing is that before 2001 De Brabandere was only making this beer in order to blend it into their Oud Bruin. It was at the behest of famed beer writer Michael Jackson that the Aged Pale came to market as a standalone product. It has been winning gold medals since its release, and the brewery has been forever grateful to Mr. Jackson who passed in 2007
Your own blend
Recently the brewery has released the Sour Power Sampler Pack with the goal of having you, the consumer, make your own blend. Let’s say you have the Petrus Oud Bruin but think, “This beer would be even better if it was 10% more sour.” Using the Sour Power Sampler Pack, you have all of the ingredients to make your own version of the Oud Bruin!
The Oud Bruin, true to its name, pours into a deep brown color and on the nose delivers notes of yeast, cherry, sour fruit, and a bit of oak. While its color may tell you that it is a heavy and malty beer, the truth is that it is quite crisp and refreshing with the malt sweetness only coming in to balance the sour fruit and soft spices.
Cigar Pairing: Diamond Crown Maximus
The Diamond Crown Maximus Delivers a ton of cedar and cinnamon that complements the beer’s malt, yeast, and fruit core. The bodies of the cigar and the beer and perfectly matched so that one never dominates the other. As the beer warms up, the malt becomes more and more present while the cigar takes on more cream and nuts.