Cantillon: Rose De Gambrinus (Belgium: Fruit Lambic: 5% ABV)

Visual:  A burnished red colour, pinkish froth that comes up easily into a large head.

Nose: Dry wine. Tart raspberry. Cheese. Lightly acidic. Brambles and blackcurrant. Strawberry. Ice cream topping sweetness.

Body: Acidic to almost vinegar levels. Dry cheeseboards. Very tart. Raspberry. Red onion. Gooseberry and vanilla.

Finish: Dry wood boards. Acidic. Red onion. Apple. Yeasty. Tannins. Strawberries.

Conclusion: This I found one of the more challenging of the Cantillon beers I tried back when I first encountered them. For anyone who knows Cantillon knows that means something fairly damn challenging.

Initially I tried it this time quite chilled down and while the aroma boomed with rich fruit in a range far beyond just raspberry and a wondrous dry cheese touched background this did not follow through to the mid body. The body came in far too full and acidic for me to make much out from.

So I took my time, rolled the beer around the glass a few times and wondered about the odd onion edge to the character.  I remember comments some where from the official set about it looking the colour of onion skin, and so I considered the possibility that my memory of these was affecting my judgement.

This little diversion of thought gave the beer just enough time to warm slightly, bringing out sour fruit flavours. The beer seemed wine like, but much fuller of body without losing that trademark dryness of finish. For sheer range of flavour and complexity it reminded me of New Glarus fruit beers, but brought to tart lambic style rather than New Glarus sweetness. They definitely both share that lovely cheese board backing to the flavour.

It did take time to get accustomed to this beers charms. At first sip I was darn near ready to write it off, but the more I drank it the more I grew to find it the most open and revealing of all Cantillon beers I have tried so far. So dry and challenging but definitely rewards the effort.

I’m sure that a nigh vinegar touched beer in acidity is not to everyone’s tastes but if you can hold with it then it gives a hell of a lot back. Finally a Cantillon I can say without reserve that I enjoyed.

Background: Me and Cantillon have quite the history now. They are always heavy going and challenging beers, and I tend to find them intriguing more than completely enjoyable, but I keep coming back to them.  Each time they seem to be more enjoyable than before.  Gambrinus is apparently the name of a legendary king of Flanders and patron saint of brewing. Very cool.  This is listed as best enjoyed in the first year after bottling, it was drunk at one year and a few weeks after. I think it still held up fine, but I’m guessing younger version may be more pronounced in the fruit.   This was picked up from Beers Of Europe.