Cantillon Soleil De Minuit

Cantillon: Soleil De Minuit (Fruit Lambic: Belgium: 5% ABV)

Visual: Clear, still gold. Thin dust of a head. Hazy with bits evident in the body as you reach the end of the bottle.

Nose: Horse blankets. Ultra dry white wine and sour white grapes. Light gingerbread. Lightly musky. Honey.

Body: Very dry. Very light initially. Vanilla. Musky berries. Very smooth. Tart grapes. White wine. Champagne funky feel. Dried apricot. Nettles and prickling. Light honey. Mandarin orange. Passion fruit near the end.

Finish: Grapes. White wine. Oatmeal. Light charring. Light cloud-berry. Funky yeast feel. Vanilla. Lightly tart. Nettles. Dried apricot. Light vinegar. Orange juice.

Conclusion: Ok, this is absolutely nothing like what I expected. At all. I am used to super tart, dry, mouth puckering lambics coming from Cantillon. Also, with this having the unusual selection of cloudberry fruit to be aged on I was expecting that to be pushed hard.

Neither were true. Chilled down it tastes similar in style to their unblended lambic on the front, and full of subtleties. It definitely was white wine like, dry, very dry white wine like. Also the lambic character very much showed in the aroma with the horse blanket like character. By comparison the cloudberry was limited to the more funky edges of the beer around that white wine character.

Similarly there is nearly no acidity or harsh tartness – it is smooth as silk to drink, probably the easiest going Cantillon I have tried – my non Cantillon aware friend tried it and could easily enjoy it. It you are happy drinking good quality wine, then this is a similar experience.

That is not to say that this lacks subtlety, it has a very champagne like funky bready character (Admittedly this is going from my one true Champagne experience in Avery Bristol), the beer has a much more complex feel than it does taste.

Warming it really brings out the flavours though, it gives a lightly tart touch, and even a slight vinegar air right at the back of the throat, while still, generally, being smooth as heck. Much more cloudberry comes out, it never dominates, but it now has enough definition to distinctly complement the main wine like character. Soft apricot and an almost light vanilla sweetness then round it out, then delicious orange late on.

While chilled it is a far more easy to drink beer, at close to room temperature it gains much more to differentiate it from the unblended lambic it initially resembled. Then again, while I was not quite taken with Grand Cru, in general unblended lambic is hardly one to turn your nose up at. As is, chilled I was disappointed, especially considering the cost. It was good, but hardly above a standard lambic. As it warms it becomes another excellent quality fruit Cantillon, but with extra smoothness.

Is it worth the price? For the flavour, no. There are other lambics from Cantillon at far cheaper price that are of equal quality. As an intriguing event, as an experience, well, ouch, that is almost up to you – how much do you value trying a rarity?

For me, at the price I will not return to it, however looking at it just as a beer, I will have to admit, when you let it warm … Yes it is excellent, it builds up gently, and you get a different experience over several glasses. Not top 50 in the world good, but just, just comes in as one of my favourites.

Background: Holy crap, I did not expect to find this one. Now, to head people off at the pass – yes this is a Belgian beer, from the legendary lambic makers Cantillon. So why did I get it during the Sweden holiday? Well, simple, this was brewed for Akkurat bar in Stockholm and as far as I am aware that is literally the only place you can legitimately buy it. I found this, the Oct 2015 release (Drunk Aug 2016), in the vintage beers section of their bottle list and immediately checked that it was in stock. It was. Oh yes. It is a lambic made with cloudberrys, and at the time of writing, one of Rate Beers top 50 highest rated beers. It is also very expensive. Though the price of it did end up causing a conversation with two Russian teachers who were sat next to me at the bar, which was pretty cool. They asked us our views on Brexit then laughed at two synchronised, yet unplanned, facepalms from my friend and me. I offered some to them to try, and they politely referred to it as “Interesting”. I think they were not a fan. However my friend, who is not usually a beer fan, found it quite enjoyable. I also like that this was laid out in a wooden boat shaped container while we were drinking, very snazzy. Before drinking this I had some water to clean out the tastebuds from the previous beer so I could give this my full attention.

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