Tag Archive: Fruit


Cantillon: Zwanze 2021 – Parasol (Belgium: Fruit Lambic: 5% ABV)

Visual: Slightly darkened apricot skin. Brown bread colour touched thin head.

Nose: Very fresh lemon. Citrus tart orange. Slightly bready. Light horse blankets and hint of sulphur.

Body: Pancakes. Jiff lemon. Crumpets sans butter. Peppery. Lemon juice. Orange juice. Honey. Gooseberries.

Finish: Peppery. Orange juice with bits. Lemon juice. Tart grapes. Menthol touch. Light peppermint.

Conclusion: This is so freaking citrus as heck and fresh. It absolutely bursts with the citrus notes from the aroma right to the last embers of flavour from the finish of the last drops that you sipped. There is so much orange and lemon styled notes and they all feel so natural and so fresh. Clearly themselves , something a lot of other fruits seem to find hard. Those fruits are still enjoyable in how they mesh with the sour lambic, but these are possibly the most cleanly identifiable fruit notes in a lambic I have encountered.

Like nigh every Cantillon that exists that isn’t the whole story though. This isn’t as sour or mouth puckering as you would expect from a Cantillon. It feels like the citrus character has mellowed the tartness, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot to examine. There is a lovely low level peppery character that is such a good underline to the very fresh experience. On the other end of the scale it has a sweet honey touch that just pops up the experience a bit.

It hasn’t got the grace of a lot of Cantillon beers, but it is just bursting with flavour in every direction. I really enjoy it, even in its graceless nature. Is is so different, that freshness is unlike anything I have seen in lambics before, a very clean bright freshness rather than the sour, puckering freshness of most lambics. It may not be classy, but I just love that it shows there are still things to be discovered in what can be done with lambics.

We need someone, possibly even Cantillion to take this idea and run with it as if they can do this on first try (or technically second based on their attempt 70 years ago) then I’m sure that they can polish it up to something special. As is this is still fun as hell.

Background: This is it, I finally did notes on a Zwanze day beer! I have had two before, but never did notes. For those who are not aware, Zwanze day is when Cantillon releases a unique beer each year, and a limited number of places around the world have access to put it on tap. I happen to be lucky that Moor’s Taproom is competitively easy to get to and have had Zwanze day events for a few years now. I missed last years Zwanze as, well covid and lack of vaccines. This year I was still nervous, but they split the event into three smaller groups, with drinking done outside and that helped me decide to give it a go. This years Zwanze is a blend of lambic and citrus fruit (mostly orange says nigh every site I look at). Apparently they tried a similar thing about 70 years ago, but ended up with corks exploding out of bottles from the re-fermentation and the brewers running for cover and getting drenched. Thankfully it seemed more stable this time. I love that little story, tales behind beers and drinking them is one of my favourite things about this pastime. I nearly missed out on this despite being at the event – my booking was for between 16.00-19.00 and I am used to the Zwanze pour being later in the event in past years, so was not too worried when my train was delayed so I was 15 mins late. Turns out they did it as the first pour of the night! Thankfully they trusted me that I was not trying to grab a second and poured my Zwanze for me. Many thanks! There was no abv listed but the staff let me know if was 5% abv when asked.

Cantillon: Fou’foune (Belgium: Fruit Lambic: 5.5% ABV)

Visual: Hazy dark lemon juice to apricot skin. Thin white rim of a head.

Nose: Tart. Grapes. Apricot skin. Oats. Light horse blankets. Wet with fruit remains apricot stones.

Body: Tart. White wine. Fresh apricot that alters to dried apricot over time. Grapes. Thick grape syrup tart middle. Acidity. Cider. Dry oak. Lightly bitter.

Finish: Tart grapes. Apricot skin. Honey. Apricot syrup. Tart apples.

Conclusion: This a comparatively relaxed and yet still very flavoursome Cantillon. It does have the acidity of a Cantillon, but the fruit choice seems to have gone a long way towards keeping it from being too mouth puckeringly sour.

The apricot is delivered remarkably well. It comes through as drier apricot skin like notes front, then that sweeter clinging dried apricot notes in the middle, into a slightly syrup like release at the end. In fact that syrup character does show in the middle as well, just there it is more just the thickness with a slight grape taste that gives a lovely release from the drier Cantillon base. Finally there is a low level oat feeling bitterness underneath it at all times.

These three layers make it work wonderfully – the sweeter fruit touches gives release from the sourness. The tart Cantillon style, while not as high as usual makes for a solid rewarding main middle and the dry bitter touches ground it. Around all this the rest of the rewarding complexities of the fruit roam and reward you.

This probably the best introduction to Cantillion I have seen. Delicious, fruity but reins in the more mouth puckering side of Cantillion without completely hiding the sourness. I never thought I would find an easy drinking Cantillon, and I still haven’t, but I feel this is the closest thing we will ever get to it and it is lovely.


Background: Sooo Fou’foune is a bit of a rude word it turns out. I am so innocent and had no idea until anyone told me. Honest. Anyway, an advantage of of drinking with others at Zwanze day is someone let me know the rude pun of the name. This is unusual in that it is a lambic made with apricots, which is very far from a standard lambic fruit choice. This is listed in “100 Belgian beers to try before you die” where they oddly say that the taste has “little or no apricot or peach” – I have seen arguments that this beer is at its best when very fresh, so possibly the fruit fades fast and I was very lucky to try it on tap at the aforementioned Zwanze day when it was, I presume, very fresh. I only did notes on this and the Zwanze day beer, but the tap list at the Zwanze day event at Moor Taproom was immense. Magic Lambic was on, Camerise, Menu Pineau, Nath and more. I wish I could have spread my drinking over several days so I was in good tasting condition to do notes on more! So many rare Cantillon beers I had never seen anywhere else. I looked up the abv for this online as it was not listed, most say 5.5% which is what I put. Some say 5%. So around that region.

Trillium: Fated Farmer Blackcurrant (USA: Fruit Sour Beer: 6.5% ABV)

Visual: Very dark black-cherry red. Thin purple hued rim of a head.

Nose: Wet oak. Blackcurrant. Tannins. Sour red wine to Pinot Noir. Cake sponge. Walnuts.

Body: Dry. Dry white wine. Sour blueberry. Sour cherry fizzy sweets. Acidic apple and acidic at back of the throat. Vinegar touch. Sour black cherry. Dry mead touch.

Finish: Sour cherry fizzy sweets. Blueberry sherbet. Sour cider. Slight vinegar. Blackcurrant. Pinot noir. Sour black-cherry.

Conclusion: Ok, some sours suit chilling way down brilliantly. Not this one. You can chill it down a bit, but any more than that, as I did, and the mid body loses pretty much anything but acidity and vinegar touches. So, give this just a lick of warmth, ok?

Though, that said, chilling never seems to hurt the aroma. Even fairly heavily cooled down this boomed dark fruit, red wine and oak. Very full bodied, very sour, but not so much it loses that fruit that really reminds me of a New Zealand style Pinot Noir.

As previously mentioned the body is very harsh when overly cold, oddly dry white wine like more than any other flavours, which is very unexpected for something this dark fruit led. As it warms though it brings a lot of sour fizzy dark fruit sweets and blueberry mixed with black-cherry notes. Oddly there are very few blackcurrant like elements – it seems the beer saves those for the finish. Even like this, slightly warmer than before the body is probably the weakest element, with an acidic apple to light vinegar character that seems to push the fruitier elements way.

As the main acidity seeps away in the finish then the blackcurrant really comes out. It is still sour, just now sour in a blackcurrant style. It really hangs in the air, very obvious, very long lasting and still fairly darn sour.

The sour beer aspect of this beer feels unpolished, but the fruit seems to hold up well. It doesn’t have the huge, almost shimmer holographic range of flavours I associate with some sours, but it still has good depth beyond the blackcurrant. It sits very solidly in the range of notes you would expect from a New Zealand style Pinot Noir, with some sour black cherry fizzy sweets and blueberry thrown in there as well.

So, between those two poles, this is a reasonable beer. At its best when showing that Pinot Noir like style matched to the sourness, at its worst when it is mostly acidic and vinegar styled.

Not a must have but uses a fruit not often seen in wild beers, and shows off the fruit well, even if it doesn’t do it consistently. I dig it at its best, I just wish it was more consistent.

Background: Independent Spirit has had a couple of batches of Trillium in, first up a huge amount of their New England IPAs, then a bunch of their fruited sours. I kept meaning to do notes on one of them as Trillium has a fairly huge rep, but they are also kind of expensive, so I put it off. Until now! This one, as you may expect is a sour ale made with Blackcurrants. Shocking I know. The only date I can see on the bottle is 02 May 19, which I presume is the bottling date. So about two years old, which would be worrying if this was an IPA, but for sours like this it should be fine. Fruit does wane over time, but with fruited lambics coming out with a few years under their belt, I’m guessing this will be fine. Not much to add – I went with Jello Biafra: Tea Part Revenge Porn for background music (No I am not typing out the bands whole name, even though me saying I’m not typing it probably took me longer). I’m a big Dead Kennedys fan but have never checked out his solo work. Pretty good so far, a lot of that old school DK energy still there.

Urban South Htx: Triple Spilled: Strawberry, Banana, Vanilla, Cheesecake (USA: Fruit Sour: 6% ABV)

Visual: Pink, cloudy strawberry milkshake look and colour. Utterly opaque. Even the head looks like loose, large bubbled milkshake head that leaves pink sediment clinging to the side of the glass.

Nose: Strawberry milkshake. Tart grapes. Vanilla toffee. Cheesecake. Banana milkshake. Creamy.

Body: Thick and creamy. Tart white grapes. Banana milkshake. Slight acidity at back of the throat. New York style cheesecake. Tart kiwi. Syrupy feel under the milkshake mouthfeel.

Finish: Strawberry milkshake. Green grapes. Banana milkshake. Cheesecake. Kiwi. Apples. Vanilla and vanilla toffee. Toffee cheesecake. Sour apple sweets. Sour cherry sweets.

Conclusion: Ok, this legitimately should not fucking work. For one thing it looks exactly like a milkshake.

I poured it, it came out looking like a milkshake, pour and all, even down to the large bubbled head that leaves sediment on the glasses’ edge. Everything looked like a milkshake.

This is a milkshake.

Or is it?

Well, let’s look at the flavours. Flavour-wise you can tell pretty much what you are going to get just by looking at the words on the can – banana (in a milkshake style), strawberry (also in a milkshake style), tons of vanilla (Oddly, not in a milkshake style, a much more pure vanilla to vanilla toffee style). There are very clear cheesecake notes (in a cheesecake style, New York cheesecake style). They aren’t lying to you at any point here, and it is stupidly creamy and edges close to painfully sweet.

Now, this is when things get weird. In the aroma there are notes of tart grapes. Not unexpected, this is a fruited sour, for all the extra ingredients and grapes aren’t unheard of in milkshakes. So unusual but not shocking. However then you start sipping things start going off the rails. Up front it is all creamy milkshake, then, nestled at the core is a syrupy feeling, slightly sour, acidic hit at the back of the throat, green fruit filled sour beer. Which sticks around long enough to confuse the hell out of you then sink back into the creaminess.

The sour side is much thicker than your usual, drier sour beer style, packed with a very syrupy feel, but still, yep there is an actual sour beer nestled away, like a bear hidden in a cave. HOW?

I mean I presume bears hide in caves. I may not have researched that one. If they don’t, then substitute a cave hiding animal.

Also, how do you have a sour milkshake and it doesn’t just like curdled milk that has gone off? HOW?

So, is it any good? Fuck knows what good even means here. I’m having a laugh, I can say that, but this possibly the least beery beer I have had for a long time. Half milkshake, half sour beer to sour liqueur, thing.

There is no way I would drink this regularly. It is too sweet for anything short of a dessert drink, too alcoholic for a milkshake replacement, not refreshing in the slightest.

And yet…

Feck it, this is such a laugh. Somehow leans heavily towards the fruit and dessert milkshake style while still having successful sour edges. Admittedly a lot of those sour edges are like sour chewy sweets, but still.

If the intrinsic idea of it doesn’t put you off, I would say sure, give it a go, have a laugh. Have an oddity of a sugar shock sweet yet sour milkshake beer. You are probably only going to ever want to try it as a one off, a bit of fun. Just don’t expect subtlety or traditional beer character and you will probably get along with it just fine.

Background: Ok, the can lists this as Strawberry, Banana, Vanilla, Cheesecake – but I have seen a few places online refers to it as Strawberry, Banana, Vanilla Cheesecake which kind of makes sense as well. I don’t know how cheesecake even comes into this. From their website Triple Spilled refers to three times as much fruit as normal, and I’m fairly sure cheesecake isn’t a fruit. At a guess they use banana, strawberry and vanilla pods to make this, to give a cheesecake like taste, but for all I know they blended up cheesecake and dumped it in. The craft beer scene does shit like that. Also unsure of the abv as I cannot see it on the can. Beer Bruvs, where I bought it, list it as 6%, the Urban South web site lists the Triple Spilled beers as between 6 and 6.5% abv, so sure something like that. Couldn’t see a canned date for this one, so cannot say how it fits in the freshness scale – but everything else in their recent batch has been fairly darn fresh. Though it did result in this can, like all the cans of this buying batch, being very excitable when opened, but not so much that I lost any before pouring. I just needed to be quick on my feet. Went with Noctule: Wretched Abyss as backing music, just because. Hey this beer makes no sense, why should my music choice?

Vandenbroek: Brut Nebbiolo (Netherlands: Fruit lambic: 6.8% ABV)

Visual: Reddened orange to a rose wine, or onion skin. Lots of tiny bubbled carbonation. Thin dash of a white head.

Nose: Dry white grapes. Cake sponge. Spicy red wine. Chill seeds and paprika. Vanilla touch. Wet oak. Strawberry as it warms. Menthol. Red onions touch.

Body: Dry white wine front. Wet oak. Mashed cherries. Mossy dark touch. Charring. Light chalk. Tart grapes. Strawberry. Vanilla yogurt. Red onion.

Finish: Black cherry yogurt. Dry white wine. Black pepper. Wet oak. Red onion. Mashed cherries. Lemon curd.

Conclusion: While not up to the standards of the amazing Watergeus that the same brewery turns out, this is still another rewarding and complex lambic from Vandenbroek.

I really have to stop summing stuff up in the first line, I need to give you lot a reason to read further.

On the eye this reminds me of the much praised Cantillon: Rose De Gambrinus, even though the load out of fruit used to make it is very different. Admittedly I am saying that from memory, so feel free to point out if I am full of shit. It had that reddened kind of onion skin to rose wine colour that really catches the eye and gives a great first impression.

The aroma is fairly standard dry lambic, though with a bit more spiciness in this take. Warming lets more notes slowly come out, giving a more rounded character.

The body is where the main play comes out. It is very dry white wine feeling. The darker fruit seems to wait and subtly come out in sweeter ways in the middle of the beer. The fruit is rich, with cherry to black cherry like notes coming out, and strawberry hints around the edges. There are tart grape notes, but they work into the main body of the dry lambic character easily, reinforcing rather than contrasting it.

There is even, oddly matching the visual, a kind of sharp red onion style character – especially in the finish where it gives a quiet savoury underline to the finish. Also, I mean this as a complement, it is really odd what flavours actually work in a lambic where you would hate them elsewhere.

As you can see from the main notes, there is a lot to examine – from lemon curd thickness to peppery spice and fresh menthol air, but I’ve tried to cover the main prominent themes here. The rest are just extra sparks of flair.

A lot going on, a lot worth examining, another great Vandenbroek.

Background: Vandenbroek! From the Netherlands, not Belgium. I may have, erm, made that mistake last time and had it pointed out to me. Many thanks! Serves me right for half arsing research. Especially as it turns out it is a place name. Anyway, always good to admit you are fallible. Still, been adoring their lambics, so decided to grab this one for giving a go. This is made with fermented grape must, with the peel and grape pips remaining in the beer for up to 10 months – duplicating a traditional wine making technique. Since lambics are already the most wine like of beers, this is an interesting take. The abv on the bottle may be saying 6.0 or 6.8%, a quick google suggests 6.8 so that is the one I went with. This is another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. They have a decent range of Vandenbroek and a huge range of sours in general, which makes it very easy to dabble with this style. Music wise I went back to IDLES: Joy As An Act Of Resistance to listen to. Ultra Mono is good, but that is IDLES best in my opinion – and that mix of anger and emotional vulnerability still kicks, especially in the current world situation.

Connecticut Valley: Nothing By Chance (USA: Fruit: 15% ABV)

Visual: Hazy reddish brown. Hind of hazy apple juice like colour. Thin off white head.

Nose: Honey. Glazed apple Danish. Liquorice touch. Boozy. Cut apples. Brown sugar.

Body: Apple pie filling. Honey. Golden syrup. Brown sugar. Boozy. Slight dry oak. Blended whisky. Vanilla.

Finish: Warming treacle air. Liquorice. Brown bread. Apple pies.

Conclusion: Ok, apple beers, be it straight apple, apple pie dessert stouts, or just ditched into other beers, have always appealed to me as an idea, but they have not had the greatest history of actually, well, working.

So, how does this one do?

Pretty well. I mean, it is boozy as fuck, but at 15% abv I kind of expected that already. It makes the entire beer unsubtle as hell, but here, I kind of dig that.

There is a very apple pie to sugar glazed apple Danish kind of style to this, but with a bit of dry oak touch and sweet vanilla from the barrel ageing that adds high and low notes to the whole experience.

The high booze and sweetness gives occasional real thick and sugary golden syrup, but more generally a more manageable honey hazy hovers over the whole thing. Thankfully the dryer oak notes work very well as occasional release, and match with the savoury liquorice notes which offer a haven in which you can prepare yourself before the next sweet burst. Often I find liquorice notes don’t work in a beer, but here they feel very necessary as a grounding element and are pleasing in themselves.

Overall it is simple, boozy and sweet – with the barrel ageing feeling like it is responsible for 90% of any of the complexity you actually get, but ya know what?

It does apple well. That is rare. It still manages to feel beer like under that and shows heavily but is not dominated by the barrel ageing. That is a nice wee set to hit.

Rough and simple, but despite that I really dig it.

Background: Saw that Bottles and Books over in Bristol had some very tasty beers in, lot of Imperial Stouts especially, so I treated myself and put an order in from them. Very helpful staff there as well, helping me sort a mistake I did with the order. Anyway this, not an Imperial Stout, is one of the beers I ordered from them. What it is is a very high abv apple ale that has been aged in bourbon casks. Now, my experience with apple beers has been mixed to say the least, but I am eternally hopeful that one of them will wow me, and this was different enough that I thought it may be the one to do so. Had recently stayed up to watch the Undertale Fifth House Ensemble concert livestream on twitch, so listened to the Undertale Live music while drinking. Yes I am a big Undertale nerd. I love it.

Vault City: Dark Fruits Bakewell Sour (Scotland: Fruit Sour: 7% ABV)

Visual: Thick, opaque dark purple to black cherry body. A creamier, lighter black cherry inch of head that leaves sud clumps.

Nose: Creamy black cherry to black cherry yogurt. Tart apple and tart black cherry. Brambles. Menthol creamy touch. Wet twigs. Tart grapes.

Body: Tart yet sweet red grapes over tart white wine. Vermouth. Menthol. Wet twigs. Almond rounds. Burnt cake sponge. Vanilla.

Finish: Pineapple sours. Black cherry yogurt. Light creamy touch. Tart white grapes. Apple. Sour black cherry. Tiny aniseed. Bitter peppery notes.

Conclusion: This is a rewarding and wine ranging beer – far from the simple sweeter sour I was expecting from the bakewell part of the name. In case it is not clear I mean that as a good thing.

Initial notes on the nose are all black cherry – ranging from initial sweeter notes, that soon descend into tarter notes. Very fruity with hints of wet twigs and the like in a very natural way.

The body pushes the sweetness to the side, with hints of vanilla and almond notes but they are only little grace notes over a tart dark fruit body. Under that is white wine flavour and dryness underlying it. There are darker, heavier notes at the core – still very naturally delivered and with lots of fruit to reward you. It is only wine like in the underlying notes and makes a nice contrast to the more natural fruit.

The finish is where real distinct white wine character starts to develop. It is still dark fruit touched but drier, with peppery and slightly bitter notes coming out amongst the twigs. A harsher underline to the whole beer but not unwelcome. Something that really helps show beery bitterness amongst the still unusual sour notes.

Quite thick in mouthfeel, yet refreshing from the dryness. Sweet edges but tart souled. Lots of fruit, and definitely sour while still being recognisably beer. I’m very impressed by this rewarding fruit sour experience.

Background: So, Vault city have been turning out unusual yet good quality beers for a bit now. While I have found myself getting a tad weary of gimmick beers recently, these tended to feel like solid beers that happened to have odd flavours and ingredients rather than just feeling gimmicky. Even though a bakewell sour is undeniably gimmicky. As does the Iron Bru beer I had that I tried from them. They still felt beer like. Which was nice. Anyway, so yeah a dark fruit bakewell inspired sour. From Vault City. Yep I’m in. One of the last beers I got from Independent Spirit before lockdown of doom hit the UK. Trying to keep my stash going as long as poss. Went with Nine Inch Nail’s two new free albums while drinking this. No lyrics, but wonderfully moody.

Lervig: Shiga Kogen: Yuzu Raga (Norway: Fruit Lager: 5.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale grain to yellow. Clear body with a good sized off white head. Lots of small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Tart lemon to jiff lemon. Tart grapefruit. Yuzu? Fresh. Yellow raspberry. Lightly yeastie.

Body: Lemon curd. Yellow raspberry. Yuzu? Flour touch. Palma violets.

Finish: Lemon curd. Tart lemon. Yuzu? Tart grapes. Clean sheen feel. Touch of bitterness and hop oils. Flour. Lightly gritty bitterness. Peppery.

Conclusion:Soooooo. Have I ever eaten Yuzu? I honestly can’t remember. I know I have had a variety of Yuzu based and infused drinks. Deffo had them. I just cant remember if I have ever had the thing itself.

Anyway, the tart fruit character is very up front here. Very fresh, mixing lemon, grapefruit and yellow raspberry like notes. Or probably just tastes like yuzu and I would know that if I could remember trying it.

Probably.

The lager styling beneath the fruit is clean, with a slight hop oil sheen. It has a good, slick texture and slight noble hop feeling palma violet notes. The mouthfeel is slightly bohemian pilsner like, but generally the lager is only here as a mouthfeel, the yuzu is here as the flavour.

Because of that it is kind of simple, but refreshing and smooth. One point of note it it uses a slightly gritty, and initially light bitterness. It rises to moderate bitterness, though restrained in mid body and builds to a nice kick in the finish.

It is a simple 1-2-3 punch. Good texture, good fruit usage, good underlining bitterness. Simple. Refreshing, exactly what it says on the tin. Hints of Bohemian pilsner, but with tart fruit and light bitterness.

May not be world shaking but bloody drinkable. I am happy with it.

Background: Shiga Kogen, been a while since I had anything from them. Tried a good chunk of theirs during my visits to Japan. Mixed bag, some great stuff, some average. Lervig on the other hand tend to be spot on. Anyway I’m guessing Raga is the Japanese spelling of lager when adapted to their katakana alphabet, what with this being a lager and all. Yuzu is tart citrus fruit. I may or may not have tried it. My memory is fucked. Another beer from Independent Spirit. Went with Ritualz – CDR for music. Wonderfully weird and haunting music.

Vault City: Strawberry Skies (Scotland: Fruit: 8.5% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy, with a bright strawberry red colour. Short lived white dash of a head.

Nose: Very fresh strawberry to strawberry yogurt. Lightly tart. Fresh apples. Mild use of hibiscus. Fresh white grapes. Melon.

Body: Strawberry. Light cream. Lightly acidic. Melon and apple. Fresh white grapes. Mild herbal notes.

Finish: Lemon cream. Strawberry yogurt. Melon and apple. An air of light hibiscus. Light cream. Vanilla. Banana.

Conclusion: Hibiscus usage in a beer that I don’t hate! Wooo! Finally! I think the thing that makes it work here, where is so often doesn’t elsewhere, is that it is used as a gentle backing note. It adds spice to an otherwise sweet beer – it has a definite goal to its use and achieves that. It isn’t the main event. Everyone who is ever thinking about making a beer with Hibiscus in it, pay note please.

So, with that out of the way … Strawberries, eh?

There is such very clean and fresh strawberry style on the nose. The beer is bright red on the eye, giving a wonderful visual experience even before you get into drinking it. The first impressions for this are spot on.

Sipping brings a more balances experience. Strawberries over a gently acidic and sour base – the freshness comes across more like fresh grapes than a sour lambic. It is helped by a slightly creamy mouthfeel than makes for a thicker feel and sweetness than you would normally get in a sour. Added into that a lovely sweet melon and apple notes well expressed makes for something that is recognisable as a (just about) sour beer, but very much towards the fruitier side of things.

The finish is the biggest surprise. Fresh and sweet but with sweet vanilla and banana notes making this quite dessert like over the creamier touch.

Through it all it is a fresh thing. Those cut apple, grapes and melon all keeping it feeling just fresh enough not to be sickly. It is not a heavy element, but it sticks around as a fresh note as the strawberry fades away, keeping the beer feeling clean, with the (and yes we are back to this) hibiscus as a spicy grounding and underlying of the whole experience.

Fresh, just savoury enough, fantastic use of strawberry with dessert like thickness from the vanilla and higher abv. An utterly awesome fruit beer. If you like strawberry, and fruit in general – grab it.

Background: I like strawberries. Rarely seem to work well in a beer for some reason. So, when I saw this strawberry sour from a brewery I had not tried before, I shrugged my shoulders and figured “What the heck, I’ll take the risk. So here we are. Also, I note after buying it also uses hibiscus which I, so far, have not had good experiences with in beers, so this was more of a risk than I thought. Also includes vanilla, which I have only encountered in a few sours, but seems to be a positive when I do encounter it. Not much else to add. Grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to the Rotten Citizens Vol 1 EP – a mix of nicely dark sounding electronic tracks.

Boon: Oude Schaarbeekse Kriek Boon 2018 (Belgium: Fruit Lambic: 6% ABV)

Visual: Dark black cherry red with a cherry-aid coloured inch of tight bubbled head. Lots of small bubbled carbonation in the body.

Nose: Smooth cherry. Black cherry yogurt. Light acidic apple. Pencil shavings. Brambles.

Body: Acidic and tart. Slight charred oak. Tart cherries. Tart apple. Dry white wine. Slight yeast funk. Slight peperami. Cherry jelly tarts. Dry cheesecake late on.

Finish: Tart red and black cherries. Gooseberry. Twigs. Puff crisps. Strawberries. Slight charring. Tiny amounts of marshmallows.

Conclusion: Most of the fruity Boon lambics I’ve encountered have leaned more towards the sweeter takes on the style, admittedly with one very notable exception. This definitely leans the other way – dry as can be at the base, which gives the moderate sweetness of the fruit influence a lot more punch.

While we are on the subject of the fruit, this is remarkably well developed in the fruit expression. From a tarter, slight sweet dessert style cherries, to black cherry yogurt style, to tarter notes that give an almost gooseberry tartness to the finish.

Despite the beer being dry, the sourness is restrained, coming across more as dry white wine (infused with red fruit natch) than, say, Cantillon level mouth puckering.

It really is a treat – there’s even a few rounding notes to add a few edges to it – mild oak influence and slight yeast funk. Beyond that there are some odd, possibly hallucinatory notes brought on by the acidity, but I’m listing them anyway – tiny sweet marshmallow notes in the finish and tiny pepperami meaty solid note to the middle. Again these could just be due to my sense being confused by the acidic character as I have seen before with similar beers. Besides those it is generally a dry wine like lambic base and well expressed cherry fruit.

Very dry, just sweet enough. Very fruity and subtly funky. Do you like lambics? Do you like tart cherry? Then I would highly recommend this. So easy to drink and so rewarding.

Background: Schaarbeekse Kriek! A very rare kind of cherry, which I have encountered once before in Drie Fonteinen’s take on a Schaerbeekse Kriek. That one really caught my attention, back when I was still getting used to lambics, so a chance to try a different interpretation from Boon was definitely a must have. Another one found at Independent Spirit – they recently got in a huge batch of sours and lambics. Went simple for music with this one – Metallica; Master Of Puppets. Metal. It goes with anything.

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