Cantillon: Gueuze Lambic Bio(Belgium: Gueuze Lambic: 5% ABV)

Visual: Pale and yellowed. Shimmer of white bubbles for a head and low carbonation mid body.

Nose: White wine and white grapes. Fresh and acidic. Rye crackers. Lemon. Horse blankets.

Body: Apple juice. Jiff lemon. Sharp and sour. Apricot. Slight lemon meringue. Sweetness comes out as you acclimatize to the beer. Watermelon. Vanilla. Grapefruit and champagne.

Finish: Oatmeal flakes. Apple juice. Lemon meringue. Watermelon hard candy sweets. Grapefruit.

Conclusion: To think I put off trying this beer for so long. With so many Cantillons available I’ve been dancing through the rarer bottlings and never getting around to this basic Gueuze. Ok, Ok, I will also admit that based on the legendry dryness and sharpness of the other Cantillons I was a bit nervous about what the base product may do to my senses.

Wow. I first tried it overly chilled and it was still impressive and sharp with the expected horse blanket aroma and fresh lemon running throughout. However when left until it was just nicely cool it leapt up with sharp lemon and grapefruit against a vanilla and watermelon sweetness all layered over a base apple juice freshness and wine like finish. Like I said. Wow.

It is like a wine that decided instead of using grapes as a base, to instead use a shimmering mirage of fruits, and then to merge it with that oddest of beer characteristics, the lambics.

The dryness and sharpness seem reasonably restrained, for a cantillon that is. The flavours are complex, and it is that vanilla sweetness laced through that really keeps the sharper flavours feeling fresh by being an eternal contrast to them. Considering the wild nature of its fermentation I don’t know how they can consistently turn out a product that relies on such delicate balance as this, but evidently they do.

At the end of the glass, just as you have got used to all the other elements you are left with a sharp wine like drink with heavy apple juice character that refreshes and delights. Finally over the years I came to appreciate the challenging craft of Cantillon, of which this is a sumptuous example.

Background: Cantillon.  My arch nemesis. Ok, that’s overdoing it but damn I always find these ones hard to review.  The reason why is that a) they are pretty much unlike most other beers, even sharper than other lambics and b) I often find myself wondering if I have enjoyed or just appreciated on of their beers. So I keep coming back to them to explore again. Over the years of doing this I have come to have a growing respect and appreciation for them, so they must be doing something right. This is a Gueuze lambic, a blend of one to three year old lambics.