Call Her Madame: Michiana Cherries Strut their Stuff in Chicago Beer
There are 50 pounds of Michiana cherries from Mick Klug Farm (Saint Joseph, Michigan) in every barrel of Goose Island Beer Company’s Madame Rose, a Belgian-style sour brown ale. The beer, produced in Chicago and coveted by craft beer lovers across the country, was released in May 2014 with national but limited distribution. If you are lucky, you will be able to find a bottle at your favorite liquor or craft beer store.
Fermented with wild yeasts and aged with Klug’s tart cherries in Cabernet wine casks for up to two years, Madame Rose is a dry, rich and malty sour with notes of brandied fruit, leather and wood. Elegant in taste and appearance (it pours a gorgeous crimson), Madame Rose references the Belgian masterpieces that inspired it—Flemish sour ales, like those from the legendary Rose Blancquaert-Merckx, Belgium’s first female brewmaster, the original Madame Rose.
Goose Island brewer Brian Taylor, who perfected the Madame Rose recipe and carefully tends the ale throughout its fermentation and lengthy aging process, says that Madame Rose requires time and nurturing beyond any other beer produced at Goose—more than the other barrel-aged beers in the brewery’s Belgian-inspired Vintage series, which include Halia (a farmhouse ale aged with peaches), Juliet (a sour ale aged with blackberries) and Lolita (a wild-fermented pale ale aged with raspberries).
But don’t call Madame Rose high maintenance; she’s more a labor of love. In fact, she’s Taylor’s favorite beer.
Asked how he likes to enjoy the ale, Taylor is quick to reply “with chocolate.” He remembers an especially delicious dessert pairing: a pastry chef ’s version of s’mores—chocolate ganache, sour cherry sauce and Madame Rose.
But the richness and intensity of Madame Rose also holds up well to savory dishes, including red meats. Taylor recalls how one chef paired Madame Rose with foie gras and sour cherries. “It was,” he says, “probably my favorite pairing of all time.”
Taste profile, color, and aroma: Madame Rose pours a deep crimson and smells of brandied cherries, leather and wet wood. ABV: 6.7%. IBU: 25.
Availability: Limited release nationally in 765 ml bottles and on draft.