Cantillon: Iris (Belgium: Lambic: 6.5% ABV)

Visual: Hazy, dark apricot colour. Large off white head of short life.

Nose: Apples. Cider. Tart and fresh. Lightly bitter. Oats. Dried apricot.

Body: Smooth. Mild bitter hop character. Dried apricot. Prickly. Sour cream. Tart apples. Light peppermint. Vanilla.

Finish: Apples to cider. Peppery hop bitterness and charring. More charring over time. Tart pears to perry. Dry oaken notes. Dry white wine. Peppermint. Vanilla.

Conclusion: Controversial opinion time – I prefer this is bottle over having it on tap. I know. I’m a heretic. A recidivist at that. I should be taken away and flogged.

Anyway, potential kink fuel aside, the thing that made the difference here is the tartness. It is more a fresh cider and perry set of notes up front . There is still some lambic white wine like character but less so that normal, so giving a smoother and fuller base than the keg version. As it turns out that is important. Why? I’ll get to that in a moment.

In the keg the hop character was more instantaneous, coming in from the very first moment and it made the lambic side of things more difficult to appreciate. Here you get a fresh, tart cider character first, then slowly the hop prickle comes out – some apricot hop flavours, then pepper, hoppy bitterness. Then the beer slowly fades out into an initially lightly charred then oaked and heavily charred bitterness finish.

It give the beer a decent progression. Since the hops and charring take time to come they feel welcome when they do, rather than slightly wearing by the end if they are there all the time. In keg it was pushing everything, all the time, which was ok in short doses but could get old fast.

Here in a bottle, like this, it is a fruity cider like lambic that slowly builds extra flavour and hops out into a surprisingly harsh hop finish. It brings together two good tastes – the experience of a sour and a hop bitterness, both in one beer,

Even in bottle I would call in a lambic to have occasionally rather than regularly, but it is much more welcome and very enjoyable.

Background: A bit of copy paste for this one – I grabbed this at the Moor Taphouse on Zwanze day – the day Cantillon releases a new, unique beer to a few pubs around the world. Of which the tap-house was one, I didn’t do notes on Zwanze as I was being *shudder* social, but it was very nice. Anyway, they had a good range of Cantillon in bottles as well so I grabbed a couple to bring back. This is one of them. Natch. Otherwise that whole story would have been pointless. For a second time. Like Nath I had some initial worries – on popping the cork there was again liquid soaked through the cork and a vinegar aroma. Thankfully after pulling the cork out the beer below was fine again. Whew. Again. Iris is odd for a lambic, not having any wheat in the mash bill, and using 50% fresh instead of dried hops – then is cold hopped again after two years in a barrel. Very intriguing. Went a bit out there by putting on Selfish Cunt – No Wicked Heart Will Prosper while drinking. It is kind of depressing that album is over a decade old, yet still the anger at modern politics is appropriate in very similar ways.

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