When I finally opened Rodenbach's Caractère Rouge, an iteration of the brewery's classic aged Flemish red resplendent with cherries and raspberries, for some reason I was expecting something not unlike the Rodenbach Vintage.
However, there are no such thick chocolatey malts and no leathery, woody evidence of age. In fact, this is a bright and pretty beer packed with clean, fruity raspberry jam. There's the lovely sweet and tart to-ing and fro-ing I particularly enjoy in regular Rodenbach, with perhaps more sour berries playing off sweet cereals than in that youth-heavy blend. In any case it represents a fairly good return for the investment of money and fruit.
Refreshing and eminently drinkable, I would love more of this.
...which is good, because Alexander from the same producer gives you something quite like it. As far as I can tell the main selling point here is that cherries are are the sole added novelty, and they are evident from the beginning; a fresh, sweet and Double Dip-like sherberty thing. After this start it simply reverts to good ol' Rodenbach loveliness; more fruit and cereal-sweet tartness with added leather and a touch of balsamic reminiscent of the Vintage but remaining bright and fun throughout.
Good stuff, but, even more so than the Caractère Rouge, I don't know if the price gets you anything much better than the Grand Cru or even cheap tinny extraordinaire Rodenbach. I guess that's the problem with having a good lineup.