Review: Idle Hands Charlton Rouge

Review of Idle Hands Charlton Rouge from Idle Hands Craft Ales in Malden, MA.

Beer Type: Flanders-style Red Ale (Sour)  ABV: 5.5%  IBUs: 16  Tried from bottle.

Their Description: “On first impression, Charlton Rouge will remind you of the famous Flanders Red sour ales of Belgium. It is complex in both flavor and aroma with notes of vanilla, oak, plum, green apple and sour cherries. Tannins from the oak barrel aging add structure to the mouthfeel and balance the otherwise soft acidity. A light malt character lingers reminding you that you are still drinking beer.”

The Reality: This beer pours a cloudy reddish-brown color and has a strong funk scent with hints of sour cherry. When it first hits your tongue you’re thinking it’s a traditional Flanders sour red ale all the way, with a strong funky tartness and sticky fruit notes (as they suggest), but that lasts for just a moment until this beer transforms. You’ll then find it mellows into a super-smooth wine tannin filled experience with oaky tones and awesome mouthfeel. This beer has mild carbonation and finishes with a dark fruit tang.

Final Verdict: What happens when you take a Flanders Sour Red Ale and age it in red wine barrels? Amazing things, that’s what. The wine barrel aging does so much for this beer that it can’t be understated. It is so smooth and the acidity is so well balanced against the oaky fruity characteristics. It drinks like a cross between a sour beer and a red wine, because it feels like silky red velvet in your mouth with plenty of tannins to complete the experience. This achievement in brewing can be enjoyed by many types of beer lovers, as the sour level is not too great and the depth of flavor will appeal to many palates. Even a sommelier might enjoy this beer, but if they didn’t, who cares? They’re wine snobs not beer snobs.