I can very clearly remember the first time I ever tried Rodenbach, a beer fermented by Acetobacter aceti — the same bacteria that converts wine into vinegar. At a tiny bar called 124 Old Rabbit Club in New York City's Greenwich Village, I ordered this odd-sounding Flanders red, which turned out to be sweet and sour, like my favorite childhood candy soaked in moonshine. The tart, tangy, slightly fruity beverage set me on a the path that eventually led me to become a beer writer, and Rodenbach remains one of my favorite breweries to this day.
Eight years ago, such an endorsement would have surely been met with confusion from my fellow Americans. Rodenbach was mostly unknown here. But following nearly two centuries of relative obscurity, one of the world's oldest continuously operating breweries is now – fairly suddenly – popular in the United States.
"Rodenbach has a very long history of being appreciated and respected – long before I was involved in the brewery," assures Rudi Ghequire, who worked his way up from Rodenbach purchaser to Brewmaster over the course of 35 years. "But as of late, there has been a wider appreciation [from] consumers who are exploring and enjoying our beers," he admits. Especially its rarer offerings—Rodenbach Alexander, made with sour cherries, for example, sold out instantly upon arrival in the US.