Tag Archive: Cantillon

Cantillon: Cuvee Saint Gilloise (Belgium: Lambic: 5.5% ABV)

Visual: Clear pale yellow. Slightest haze to it. Thin white head.

Nose: Fluffy popcorn. Mild horse blankets. Elderberry. Tart. White wine to champagne. Crushed walnuts.

Body: Big. Tart. Lightly chalky. Light sulphur. Dry nuttiness. Rocks. Fluffy feel. Palma violets. Charred. Dried apricot.

Finish: Crushed peanuts. Light sulphur. Cold stones. Tart grapes. White wine. Pepper. Slight oily. Generally nutty.

Conclusion: Ok, this is both kind of normal, and also kind of unusual. Which may be one of the worst opening sentences I have ever written. What this means it is either a really interesting beer, or I am just really shit at doing these kind of notes.

It is a toss up between the two really.

Anyway, at it’s base this is a fairly standard Cantillon lambic – Dry, mouth puckering with white wine like notes and a horse blanket aroma. If you have had a Cantillon lambic you know the drill and know that it will be good. It is decent – not the best Cantillon I have encountered but the usual high quality you would expect from the brewery.

The hops are what make it different – more sulphurous, bitter and slightly oily – but more than that, what they mainly add is a very nutty character. I mean, I know lambics can be nutty anyway, but I’m fairly sure most of this is coming from the hops. Probably.

It’s a fluffier, mildly oilier, feeling lambic – a tad heavier mouthfeel. None of these are massively so , but gives a bit of grip and takes it away from the super dry lambic character that is more expected here. Like nearly all Cantillons, it is good, but the hop usage, while interesting, doesn’t feel like it makes the beer better, rather than just unusual.

It makes it feel darker, weightier and more bitter – I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy my time with it, especially the oily bitterness which was probably my favourite part of the more unusual character– but I didn’t feel like it made the beer better overall, just more bitter.

Still good, which, now I am more used Cantillons, I find most are – but t is a more expensive one, and doesn’t show any real extra quality for that extra cost.

Background: New Cantillon! Strange how, over the years, I’ve gone from being wary of Cantillion to adoring them and grabbing any release from them I have not tried before whenever I can. This one was grabbed at Zwanze Day, over at the Moor Tap Room. Zwanze day is a day when a few select places get to serve a one off beer made by Cantillon – a different one each year. This year it was a smoked lambic – very nice, the smoke was subtly used and gently built up over time rather than being a dominant punch. Was very much worth the trip. This beer however is a 2 year lambic that has been dry hopped with Hallertau. Had a bit of a problem getting the cork out of this one – it basically was crumbling on the way out, but I think I managed to keep it out of the beer itself. Went with Tool for music while drinking. Again. Yes I know. It is just such a good album.

Cantillon: Vigneronne (Belgium: Fruit Lambic: 6% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy lemon to peach skin.

Nose: Dried apricot. Old muggy hops. Oats. Dry white wine. Dry in general. Slightly bready and fluffy popcorn. Crusty white bread.

Body: Crusty fresh white bread. Dry, thick hop feel. Dandelion. Sour white grapes. Slight tart apricot. White wine. Oats.

Finish: Flour. Fresh crusty white bread. Dandelions. Soft lemon. Gentle hop like bitterness. White wine.

Conclusion: This is not what I expected from a Cantillon. What I expect from Cantillon is, at the very least a very dry beer, at at the most a mouth puckering sour bomb. This has comparatively restrained sourness, a fluffy, fresh and bready mouthfeel and even some taste, and a .. erm .. kind of dandelion like vegetable character. I’ll get to that last one in a minute to explain more I promise. They are layered in amongst the tart grapes which are more recognisable as traditional elements and against what feels like an old, slightly muggy hop bitterness.

It is still white wine forwards in flavour, dry but not super dry, and it is delicious, it just has a much fuller body than a lot of the super dry Cantillons so I had to take a short while to get my bearings. It is just as rewarding as harsher Cantillons and much more easy going. It feels like a super enjoyable way to introduce people to the brewery without expecting them to jump in head first to the sour dry attack that they often are.

It is a chewable yet tart, like a flour thickened lambic that is very white wine fronted. A lot of you may be put off by my referring to the flour/vegetable notes of dandelion. Please don’t be, basically it is the best way I can get an odd note across. It is like if you drank dandelion and burdock, but without the burdock. If that makes any sense at all. It is that kind of influence here and not an unpleasant one.

A mellow tartness, full on wine flavour, thicker feel take on a Cantillon, and I would say that is very much worth trying. Not as huge range as some others but makes up for it by being much more approachable and easy to get into.

Yeah, I dig it, an easygoing Cantillon that does not compromise to do that.

Background: Another one from the Arrogant Sour Beer festival over at The Moor Tap Room, and this is a rare opportunity these days – A beer I have not previously tried that is both in Michael Jackson’s 500 Great Beers, and the 100 Belgian Beers To try Before You Die book. I tried the low hanging fruit of those books years ago, so this was a nice surprise. Did a quick double check on the abv of this, as most places list it as 5% ABV, but looks like it abv got raised to 6% recently. And by recently that could be any time in the past decade. I lose track of time easily. Also, before anyone points it out, I am aware that most Dandelion and Burdock these days is made with neither of those ingredients, but the analogy is the closest thing I had for identifying a flavour, so please allow me this one.

Cantillon: Mamouche (Belgium: Fruit Lambic: 5% ABV)

Visual: Clear gold. Still. Thin dash of white rather than a head. Later pours have an actual head – an inch of white froth.

Nose: Dry white wine. Rose petals. Sour. Elderberry. Wet oak. Horse blankets.

Body: Thin front. Peppery. Charred oak. Acidic back. Light lemon. Dry middle. Watery edges. Mild strawberry. White wine. Dried apricot.

Finish: White wine. Sulphur. Elderflower cordial. Dried lemon. Charred oak. Petals. Vanilla yogurt. Dandelions. Tart grapes. Flour.

Conclusion: There seems to be a trend with Cantillon beers, for me at least, that they start out feeling slightly underwhelming to my expectations, then slowly build up to gain my respect by the end. This is, well, slightly different, but it mostly matches that general trajectory. As always let me explain.

Early on it seemed slightly thin – not something I would ever expect to associate with Cantillon normally. Instead of the mouth puckering dryness what you get is an acidity that hits the back of the throat kind of harshly, an unexpected kick from the lighter front. There is an elderflower cordial taste, watered down a lot to create an experience that lacks lustre.

Time brings out a lot of white wine dryness, in fact this may be he most white wine like I have encountered in a lambic. The elderflower flavour seems to polish off some of the edges you would expect from Cantillion, but adds a bunch of new ones itself.

It adds a lot of petal, dandelions and similar floral notes which go into slightly charred and peppery notes later on. This side of things didn’t really work for me – so while the beer definitely improved on Cantillion’s usual drinking trajectory it doesn’t end up at the usual high. Just ends as a shrug and a “it’s ok.”

It is a white wine, floral and somewhat acidic thing that doesn’t grab me like the other Cantillons do and doesn’t feel like it earns the time to took for it to improve.

A distinctly sub optimal Cantillon.

Background: Shockingly (ok, not shockingly, maybe mildly surprisingly) I did not pick this up at the Moor Taphouses’ Zwanze day. They had sold out. Instead I found it in Independent Spirit a few weeks later. I’m guessing it came across as part of the same batch though. Anyway, this is a lambic made with elderflower in two year old lambic. Another new one on me – Cantillon seem to have more of these unusual experiments than I would have expected. Wasn’t sure what music was appropriate for this, so just went with an old favourite of New Model Army – No Rest For The Wicked. When in doubt go for some punk.

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.

Cantillon: Nath 2018 (Belgium: Fruit Lambic: 5% ABV)

Visual: Hazy but generally clear body of apricot colour. Moderate off white head. Very little carbonation.

Nose: Horse blankets. Dry white wine. Dry crusty white bread. Tart. Gooseberry. Rhubarb.

Body: Tart. Tart grapes. Elderberry. Tart rhubarb grows over time. Oats. Lightly chalky. Earthy. Lemony.

Finish: Tart rhubarb. Tart white grapes. Lightly chalky. Gooseberry. Vanilla. Tannins. Lemony.

Conclusion: Ok, now rhubarb is tart, lambic is tart also. So, because of that it took me a short while while drinking this to work out where one ended and the other began. It was not immediately obvious is what I am saying. Thankfully it became more obvious over time, otherwise I was going to be very confused.

So, as you may have guessed, first impressions are very straight up gueuze like character – horse blanket aroma, dry white wine and tart grape character. Ya know, good, but I could just have bought myself a gueuze if I had wanted that. Still, even like this is has the super dry, drinkable Cantillon character and what I used to find mouth puckering level sourness back in the day. Now years later it is just a pleasant sour kick that has become an old friend.

Over time the rhubarb character came out – that recognisable tart style in the middle, then leading out into the earthy style in the finish. It turns out that, contrary to what I first thought, it actually is fairly present – it just complements the gueuze so well that it takes a bit of time to separate them. When you do thought it is like a magic eye picture image popping out – this just delicious rhubarb character mixed with the white wine dry character.

There is a bit more fruit play noticeable now as well – the tartness has a gooseberry and elderberry character at the edge. As a result the tartness already there from the grapes is pushed up a notch, but again there is that earthy rhubarb character in the finish that helps ground it.

So, despite my initial doubts, this does the rhubarb justice – a very competent lambic that, however, is slightly lacking in range compared to some other Cantillons as the base and the rhubarb are so close in character. Not their best but a solid contender and a solid Cantillion is still a hell of a beer by any standard.

Background: So, 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. This is a lambic made with rhubarb. Long time readers may have noticed I am fascinated with rhubarb beers, even if their quality varies greatly. Speaking of varied quality I was very worried -on popping the cap off this as the cork below was soaked through and smelt of harsh vinegar, so I was worried the beer was off. Thankfully on removing the cork the beer within was fine. Whew. After failing to play Pixies – Bone machine during the Bone Machine beer review, I made up for it by putting the best of pixies while drinking this. The Pixies rule.

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.

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.

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.


Cantillon: Grand Cru Bruocsella 2007(Belgium Unblended lambic: 5% ABV)

Visual: Yellowed grain. Still with no head.

Nose: Tart and sour. Very tart apples. Vinegar. Woollen scarves. Light wet rum casks. Chestnut mushrooms (initially recorded as chestnuts).

Body: Surprisingly light front. Apple cider. Dry white wine. Teeth tingling. Walnuts. Mushrooms. An acid kick as you swallow.

Finish: Lemongrass. Dry white wine finish. Dry nuttiness. Dry sherry. Kind of dry then. Light cherry touches. White grapes. Mushrooms.

Conclusion: Ok this is going to be an interesting one to write up. I have scattered notes from the start and end of the first and second glass of this, and the opinions vary as the beer shifts and turns. I have attempted to put it together into something that both encapsulates the variety of opinion this beer engenders and also try to make it at least slightly comprehensible.

Here goes.

With this beer my long term examination of Cantillon continues, with this rare example of an unblended lambic. Now my last experience of unblended lambic was a good one, and I am warming to Cantillon as the years go on. This however, initially at least, was not to my tastes.

It is a very subtle beer for the main flavour, unfortunately the main body can also seem light. The front especially seeming occasionally watery.  The back by comparison hits with an acid burn as you swallow.  This seems to be deemphasising the elements I came to enjoy in the past lambic while keeping the burn that never really appealed to me.

With further examination I can see what people enjoy in it. It has a dry nuttiness and white wine style which seems to be a result of the changing style.  It also has surprising depth at this point. It may be it takes about half a glass to build up the flavour, or it may just take time to acclimatise but the finish in particular shows an impressive slow bloom of flavour.

The main enjoyment does seem to be front and finish though.  The flavour that floats on the finish is by far superior to what you get mid body.  In  a way I find this more than most examples emphasises the dichotomy of experience with Cantillon. I can see the quality held within it that leads to it being held in such high regard. The aroma, the dry tartness, wine like qualities and the shimmering range to the finish. However this more than any other I find I enjoy more on intellectual examination that on a visceral level. The main body especially just doesn’t click in what it does with the lighter style.

Then we get to the thoughts held near the end of the drink.  By this point the finish does drag me back to it, with a dry sherry like element being added to the nuttiness that is particularly pleasant. The later realised mushroom elements (See notes later for more on that) are very interesting, if not quite what I was expecting. I still do not think this is quite the Cantillon for me, a statement that may get me some hate mail from Cantillon hardcore fans.  However even more than most Cantillons I found the examination a joy in itself more than the beer. It really is an example of something different in the craft,

Final thoughts. A fine aroma and finish, and intriguing beer, but one that does not quite hold my joy as I hold it on my tongue.

Note: I cannot claim to have come to the description of the mushroom elements myself. Remembering that  “100 Belgium beers to try before you die” had advised an accompanied tasting for this I took a look at their notes for my own enjoyment after I had finished two glasses and the vast majority of my writing.  After seeing their reference to it I realized that explained the odd aroma I couldn’t quite pin down.  I was then torn between my usual insistence on not adding to the tasting notes after looking at others thoughts and the fact that it was a very accurate description of an important element. In compromise I listed the elements and added this note here to allow for psychosomatic bias and to give correct attribution to the writers of that book

Background: Bottled early 2011, drunk early 2012.  As mentioned many a time on this blog I have an interesting relationship with Cantillion. The most dry and hardcore of lambic produces, I originally could not get along with them., Over the years I have returned to various of their bottled beers and have found them fascinating, but can never quiet decide if I like them most of the time. They are however intriguing, and I always look forwards to breaking open a bottle to see what happens this time.  This is a rare unblended lambic of three years of age.  I had tried the two year unblended on tap at the GBBF and found it very much to my taste.

Cantillon: Saint Lamvinus (Belgium: Fruit Lambic: 5% ABV)

Visual: Clear dark cherry to ruby red. A head froths to life, but does not last beyond the pour in the acidity. Looks somewhat like a single drop of blood has been dropped in and swirled around to create the hazy red look.

Nose: Horse blankets. White wine. Light blueberry. Slight tart gooseberries. That cheeseboard effect. Becomes slightly musty as it warms and much more fruity with red grapes coming out.

Body: White grapes. Tart yet dry. A touch gravely initially. Gooseberries. White wine. As it warms you get evident red grapes. Sour cherry, as well as oddly sweet shop sour cherry chews.  Cheeseboards again and blackcurrant.

Finish: White wine and light acidity. Grapes. Blackcurrant touches. Light brown bread slices. Dry. Occasionally oaken with a touch of fruit seeds.

Conclusion: Some people really take the concept of lambics as “the wine of beers” to the limits don’t they?  Merlot grapes and oak ageing of the lambic seems to be the result, and thus this beer.

The wine touches are unmistakable, oddly despite its gorgeous red colour; the flavour often calls more to white wine when it was chilled. As it warms the influence of the merlot grapes becomes much more apparent.   The colour, described as like a single drop of blood had been added, did lead to much quoting of “I don’t drink…wine” over the nights drinking.

For taste and aroma you have a lot of the call to lambic styling here. The dry acidity, horse blanket aroma, and cheeseboard like influence. The fruit influence is weaved in subtly, without the sheer sour force of say the kriek.  The dryness is similarly restrained, still present but not teeth drying in its power.  It may be just a sign of acclimatisation to Cantillons, but it does feel much smoother from its time in the oak.

Whilst restrained and fruity, it does not quite grab me as much as say, the Lou Pepe Framboise did. This can possible be attributed to the higher wine influence, which as a non wine drinker, was fascinating, but more appreciated intellectually than through the taste itself.  Still impressive, for whatever reason, but yes, more wine like that I tend to appreciate it.

So, your enjoyment will really depend on your lambic acclimatisation, and wine appreciation, but it is a fine crafted beer.

On a final note, much better as it warmed, though still slightly chilled, and make sure you take the dregs at the bottom of the bottle where the extra sediment really pushes the black cherry notes up massively in a very enjoyable manner.

Background: 600 Tasting Notes! Woo. To celebrate I broke open this from the beers that I always toe the line between love and hate for me, the Cantillons.  The most challenging of the Belgium, or in fact any, lambics.  This oddity has been aged in oak casks (apparently Burgundy barrels according to rate beer) and made with merlot grapes. Shared with friends, this beer recommends on its bottle to drink within a year of buying to appreciate the fruit nature fully. It was drunk seven days before said year deadline.

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