Paardebloem: A Barrel-Aged Belgian Worth the Wait

Paardebloem - Utah Beer News

Paardebloem Single Bottle - Utah Beer NewsBarrel-aged beers are notorious for telling brewers when they’re ready, not the other way around.

And so it goes with Paardebloem, Red Rock Brewing’s highly anticipated Belgian-style ale featuring dandelion greens.

The beer, which usually ages in Chardonnay barrels for a year, took closer to 17 months this time around, says Shantel Stoff, Red Rock’s sales and marketing director, in a telephone interview.

“We try to release it in the spring when the dandelions start to pop,” she says. “But it’s one of those beers that’s not ready until it’s ready.”

And now it’s ready to drink.

The 2018 handcrafted small-batch release ($15/bottle) goes on sale Oct. 6 at 11 a.m. at the Red Rock Beer Store, 443 N. 400 West in Salt Lake City.

“I would expect if you’re not in line by 9 a.m., you’re not going to get any,” Stoff warns. “We only have enough for 96 people to buy two bottles each.”

If you miss out tomorrow, you’ll have a chance to taste the 9.2% ABV award-winning ale at Red Rock’s brewpubs. But again, you’ll want to hurry.

Red Rock expects its Salt Lake locations to sell out by mid-week. It might hang around its Park City pub a little longer since it’s the shoulder season and the resort town is relatively quiet right now.


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Paardebloem Frenzy

Paardebloem (/ˈpaːr.dəˌblum/) — a Flemish term for “dandelion” — originated more than a decade ago in response to a hops shortage. Red Rock brewers, seeking an alternative to hops for bittering the beer, turned to edible dandelion greens.

The first batch arrived in 2008 — the brainchild of Kevin Templin and Chris McCombs, a pair of former Red Rock brewers — and since then it’s become a favorite among craft beer enthusiasts.

It won a gold medal at the 2012 Great American Beer Festival (Experimental Beer), and has received several other accolades in the years since, including a prestigious The Federation University Australia Trophy For Best Specialty Beer in the 2014 Australian International Beer Awards.

Paardebloem features toasted pilsner malt, grains of paradise, fresh peaches, and, of course, fresh-picked dandelion greens. It’s aged in Chardonnay barrels, a champagne yeast is added, and it’s bottle conditioned at 78 degrees, Stoff says.

Once carbonated, Red Rock cools the bottles to halt fermentation and begins the laborious task of hand labeling and hand dipping each bottle.

Paardebloem Pre-Release Party

This year, a few Paardebloem fans got a chance to label and dip their very own bottle in the familiar green wax. Red Rock invited a handful of licensees, friends of the brewery, and Instagram followers to a “Build a Beer” workshop.

“It was a spur of the moment pre-release,” Stoff explains. “We had two cases left that we hadn’t dipped yet, so we allowed people to label, dip and buy one bottle early.”

This year, Red Rock produced 1,050 bottles (750mL) and 260 bottles (500mL), Stoff says. The smaller bottles are all going to Red Rock pubs, and the larger bottles will be available for purchase starting Oct. 6.