Tag Archive: Lambic


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.

Mikkeller Boon Oude Geuze Boon Bone Dry Mikkeller Selection

Mikkeller: Boon: Oude Geuze Boon: Bone Dry Mikkeller Selection (Denmark: Lambic Geuze: 7% ABV)

Visual: Hazy yellow gold. Massive white loose bubbled head. Quite a bit of carbonation.

Nose: Dry white wine. Crisp apples. White flour. Mixed oats. Champagne. Fresh white bread. Elderberry.

Body: Dry and very tart. Tart apples. Tart lychee. Tart grapefruit. Sparkling white wine. Sharp lemon juice.

Finish: Lychee and pineapple. Tart apples. Dry white wine. Drying. Lightly oaken. Squeezed lemon. Blood orange. Tart grapes.

Conclusion: Ok, yep, this is dry. They nailed that one. Oh, and tart. Tart and dry. Mission accomplished. So, it is dry, is it any good?

Well if feels very white wine influenced – dry (obviously) white wine is there, but also a hint of champagne thrown in as well. Very fresh up front, yet mouth drying as it goes out. However it allows itself a much fruitier flavour range than that description would lead you to expect. There are lots of tart and sharp fruits – apples, grapes, lemon, lychee, grapefruit. If you can name it, and it is tart, then there is at least reasonable odds it will be in there. Absolutely lovely tart flavours, but delivered utterly dry. Your mouth ends up sparkling, but oh so dry after you swallow it down.

It definitely follows the route of the more obviously flavourful recent lambics rather than the more subtle, texture playing, more traditional style of old. It doesn’t completely eschew that tradition though – due to the boon influence it really shines in the mouthfeel territory as well. While dry it is not desiccating and it has a pleasant sparkling fizzing feel without going to soda stream levels – it makes an excellent thirst quenching drink, yet also encourages you to drink more with the dryness – a fact that is dangerous for a 7% ABV beer.

Also, either I am getting really acclimatised to these lambics in my old age, or this is amazingly drinkable for such a dry, tart character. It actually feels accessible, despite the fact it has a quite extreme take on the style. Then again, maybe it is just that my tastebuds have been ruined by Cantillon. That could explain a lot.

Anyway, another excellent lambic. I would say, of the two, that Boon Black label has the edge for me. It has a slightly bigger body that makes it wow more for me – however this keeps closer to the original dry lambic conceit. Any which way, another absolute winner.

Background: According to ratebeer this is the same beer as Boon Black Label. According to 1) My tastebuds and 2) research done to confirm, this is not true. Though it is a close thing. The foeders of lambic used to make this beer did not use up all the lambic, so the remains were used to make Black Label. So same base set, but the proportions were different, resulting in a noticeably different beer. Going by my google they say Black Label should be more full bodied, which matches the notes I had done before looking at that, so sounds right by me. Grabbed from Brewdog’s guest beer section, this was drunk in silence on a warm day, chilled way down. Warning the cork pops out very easily, I barely touched it before it erupted in my hands. I had to drink this one quickly, it was coming up to its 2035 Best before date :-p.

Boon Old Geuze Boon Black Label

Boon: Old Geuze Boon: Black Label (Belgium: Geuze Lambic: 7% ABV)

Visual: Clear banana yellow. Huge solid white bubbled head. Large carbonation.

Nose: Crisp. Wheaty. Fresh cut apples. Mild earthy spice. Tart white grapes. Fresh cooked pizza dough base.

Body: Very tart. Sharp lemon. Froths up easily. Lime notes. Oats. Solid mouthfeel. Light banana custard and pineapple. Grapefruit. Peach syrup.

Finish: Lemon juice. Slight meringue. Light oak. Lime juice. Apricot. Dry white wine. Oats. Apples. Grapefruit.

Conclusion: Juicy. Tropical juicy. You know, considering that this is the driest boon yet, or so the bottle says, this has a fruity character that is absolutely pounding. It starts out with lemon and lime notes and builds to pineapple and grapefruit burst – that lambic character means that it ends up mixing pure fruit juice with dry white wine like character.

What surprises me is that, dry as the beer is, it does not feel drying. There is no teeth tingle, nor those mouth puckering notes that a real dry acidic lambic can bring – no back of the throat acidic feel here. In a way it feels like a lambic equivalent of restorative beverage for invalids and convalescents – the highly attenuated body means that it mostly gets out of the way and lets the fruit explode.

This is good, very good – the base feels like a dry white wine but without any acidity or harshness, the fruit feels like the tartest of tropical fruit hop explosion – choosing the lambic base means that there isn’t any real sweet influence from the malt base intruding so you get everything very clean and fresh. Best of all it is very easy to drink for a lambic, As long as you are happy with tart flavours then dealing with the acidity is a cakewalk.

Beyond the fruit, at that base, there s a recognisable lambic character – Light earthy spice, oat character, and even some very understated sweet notes – it is hugely attenuated but they don’t let that become its defining characteristic – instead you get a masterpiece of lambic balance.

I am very impressed.

Background: The cork exploded out of this one – I was a mere two twists of the corkscrew and it popped out so hard that it took my hand and the entire corkscrew with it a good half foot up. Strangely, after that the beer did not froth up and out. Still, hell of a lot of force in there. On the pour it took a few attempts to get one that was not entirely froth. It is lively on the pour. Drunk while listening to some Madness – had seen Suggs do his life story recently and was in a retro mood. This had been grabbed from Independent Spirit.

Girardin Gueuze Black Label

Girardin: Gueuze Black Label (Belgium: Lambic Gueuze: 5% ABV)

Visual: Hazy deep gold. Thin dash of off white head.

Nose: Horse blankets. Lemon. Dried apricots. Nuts.

Body: White wine. A mix of stewed and dried apricot. Sharp. Alpen cereal. Charred oak. Dried banana hints. Grapefruit juice.

Finish: Raisins. Dry white wine. Drying feel. Muesli. Charred oak. grapefruit. Lemon.

Conclusion: I remember not being too partial to the filtered “White Label” version of this. I remember it tasting like a charred oak core and overall a too harsh drying and generally unwelcoming beer. And not in a good way.

Well this still has the charred core, and it is still a bit harsh in that element – for me at least. However here that core is wrapped in a tart fruity blanker, and that makes all the difference.

It still has a drying white wine feel at times, but above that it has this lovely tart grapefruit juice feel that is much more common, and sparks this beer to life. More than that you have stewed and dried apricot mixing that gives a sweet relief from the heavier elements.

That fruit flavour seems almost like the new wave, new world hopped takes on the lambic concept – but here it is backed by a solid traditional lambic with a real almost oaty centre, and that unusual feel you only get with a lambic and that combination is great.

There are still a few rough notes at the core, but in some way that is part of the charm of the style – those uncontrollable edges. Despite the rough edges, and the fact it is such a wide ranging lambic, it is very easy to drink – and comparatively easy to approach for newcomers.

It feels slightly thicker than most lambics as well, most of them don’t grip that much, with close to dry white wine feel – but here there is an actual viscous core despite the dryness. This beer is definitely worth a try for anyone from a seasoned veteran to newcomer, and each will be rewarded in a slightly different way by the experience.

A good beer then.

Background: One of “100 Belgian Beers To Try Before You Die” – I nearly passed this one by, as the white label (filtered) version of this didn’t appeal to me. however unfiltered beers can make a big difference so I grabbed a bottle from Independent Spirit to give it a try. Lambics are odd beers, and it took me a long time to get a handle on them – they are made with ambient yeast in the environment, and create quite sharp and acidic beers. Drunk while listening to more Against Me!. Because they are awesome.

Boon Kriek Mariage Parfait

Boon: Kriek: Mariage Parfait (Belgium: Fruit Lambic: 8% ABV)

Visual: Large fizzy bubbles for a black cherry yogurt coloured head. Dark black cherry body.

Nose: Lightly tart. Wet oak. Tart apples. Sour cherries. Musky. Lemon cleaner air.

Body: Black cherry yogurt. Sour cherries. Sulphur. Fizzing texture. Charring. Tart apples. Wet oak. banana yogurt under notes. Cheese boards.

Finish: Drying. Wet oak and sour cherries. Malt biscuits. Oats. Tannins. Slight peanuts.

Conclusion: This is an interesting mix, or marriage if it will, and it seems they will. This really pushes a proper sour cherries and wet oak character, something that feels like it should be very deep and still, and yet it is played over an invigorating, fizzing lively main body.

The flavours and textures are remarkably complex in the body, it uses tartness, but the main character has such a solid weight that keeps it a much more restrained beer. There is oak and nuttiness that grounds it, so the tartness is used more to create refreshing edge into that drying lambic feel. Yet for all that it still sparkles and shimmers, it manages to mix dark depths and decadent dances of style, contrasting each other then diving into each other.

It is nowhere near the sweetness over those syrupy fruit lambics, nor that sheer mouth breaking sharpness of the hardcore lambic crowd. It is almost yogurty fruit in how it uses that lovely thick flavour that contains multitudes.

This, for me, ranks up with the greats of the fruit lambics. There isn’t any twist, trick, or gimmick to its quality they have just worked out to take the style to its natural apex, emphasising each characteristic without making any one the overwhelming focal point.

This is a beer that needs time and dedication, it never hits the easy pleasing buttons, but instead creates an overall experience of an excellent beer.

Background: Regular readers will know that Michael Jackson’s “Great Beer Guide” is one of the few beer ticker books I have time for. This is one of the beers from it, found at Brewdog’s Guest Beer selection. So I was excited. This is the 20111 bottling, drunk 2014. This is, according to that book, a mix of fresh young lambic, and a large proportion of older lambic, which is then aged in the bottle. Drunk while listening to Rise Against: Endgame. Holy shit that is a good album – I seriously don’t think there is a bad track on there.

Timmermans Oude Geueze

Timmermans: Oude Gueuze (Belgium: Lambic Gueuze: 5.5% ABV)

Visual: Hazy lemon juice. Dash of a white head.

Nose: Crushed nuts. Apricot. Light lemon.

Body: Very tart. Apples and cider. Lemon meringue. Fluffy feel behind initial sharpness. Vinegar touch. Some nuts. Jiff lemon.

Finish: Dust balls. lemon curd. Acidic. Vinegar note. Jiff lemon.

Conclusion: Lemony. Very lemony. Very very lemony. Generally I have found lemon is not an uncommon element of gueuze beers, but this is damn near lemon juice. With jiff lemon squirted into it. and then blended with lemon meringue. With lemons.

It is a bit much really. I can live with a sharp beer, hell, done right I love them. I can ever live with a beer with vinegar notes, a la Rodenbach, even if they confuse the hell out of me they can be good. This is just too one note. Ok, maybe not quite one note, but someone is letting the drummer of the band have an extended solo on the middle of the song.

Metaphorically speaking.

There are some of the other traditional lambic notes here, some nuttiness, a nice Belgian texture behind the sharpness. There is nothing that makes it really stand out though. It has a lot of the challenging notes of the style, but I don’t feel it gives you enough in trade off for that. It just rocks that one lemon filled element far too long.

Now it isn’t terrible. It is very refreshing, especially when chilled down, and the initial sharp feel giving way to that fluffy grip is interesting. However, I can’t see myself returning to the beer. If I want a sharp beer Cantillon is better in nearly every way, giving you more for the challenge, and if I want a more easy going been then this is not it.

It needs a few more notes, or maybe just to cut the metaphorical drummer’s hands off.

Background: Found this at “Independent Spirit” of Bath. I’ve been on a bit of a Belgium kick recently and thought I would give this a try, lambics are always intriguing to me, though I don’t always get them. When I find one I like though they are amazing. Anyway this was drunk while listening to some OCR Remixes of Streets Of Rage tunes, because that game had awesome music.

Spontanrosehip

Mikkeller: Spontanrosehip (Denmark: Fruit Lambic: 7.7% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy apricot. Moderate white bubbled head.

Nose: Tart. Sharp lemon. Light earthy/ horse blankets character. Perfume. Radishes. Brown bread.

Body: Tart. Cooking apples. Sharp acidity. Cider. Radishes. Lemon sherbet. Light peach. Lightly rustic. Tannins. Light black cherry yogurt at back?

Finish: Earthy. Oats. Drying. Jiff lemon. Cider. Peanuts. Dried apricot. Radishes. Tannins. Grapefruit.

Conclusion: You know, I have no idea what rosehips taste like. At all. If I had to guess from this beer I would guess like radishes. I have this strange strange feeling that I’m not even in the right ballpark. Those of you who have tried rosehips feel free to start laughing now.

You done? Good, we can move on then.

The base beer feel is that balanced, dry and slightly sharp lambic with just enough rustic earthiness that you can recognise from Spontanale. It gives a mouth tingling feel from the dryness and a touch of cider like apples and lemon sharpness against it. Even the tannins elements are definitely still there.

Through that what is new? Well it feels, maybe, more vegetable like in the aforementioned radishes. The aroma is a bit more perfumed in style, and maybe a bit earthier. It is hard to compare directly as for all the similarities, spontaneous fermented beers tend to have some variance between batches anyway.

Visually it is much more cloudy, and you can feel that cloudiness in the texture as well. I would say it is a bit sharper, and it gains an apricot like sweetness. There is more fruit character, raspberry like in feel at times if not flavour. This could be me feeling around the edges of a fruit I have not encountered before, or just effects of the higher abv.

The fruit additions do seem more subtle than in most fruit lambics, it seems to more emphasise the base characteristics rather than add all new ones. Again that could be my inexperience with the fruit showing.

Overall it has enough to feel different from standard Spontanale, in intensity if not really in type. I can’t see anything that makes it that much better than Spontanale though. It is a bit more complex but trades off for a higher cost and abv. It is more intense in most ways, but I personally would not call than enough to pick it over Spontanale. You can make your own call on if it matters to you.

Background: I have never tried rosehip. Ever. I am a sucker for an oddity. So, we all know that the traditional lambic fruits are raspberry and cherry, with black cherry, strawberry and the like being outliers. Rosehip. Rosehip. That is so far off the beaten path that I just had to try it. So now I have. This was picked up from Brewdog’s guest beer selection. Mikkeller does not own his own Brewery, instead he makes the recipes and hires time and other breweries for them to be made. Which is probably a good plan with the wild yeast lambics which can quickly infect other brews from what I have heard

Betelgeuze

To Øl: Mikkeller: Betelgeuze (Denmark: Gueuze Lambic: 5.5% ABV)

Visual: Hazy apricot. Short lived white shimmer of a head and some carbonation mid body.

Nose: Apricot, lemon. Dry. Horse blankets. Oat feel. Sour crab apple. Yeasty. Gooseberry. Cashew shells. Slightly cloying.

Body: Sharp at back of the throat. Peanuts. Sherbet. Skittles (The sweets). Hop bitterness. Sour apple. Dried apricot. Sugared almonds. Tiny marshmallows. White wine. Vanilla.

Finish: Dry banoffee? Is that a thing? Cashew. Digestives. Reasonable bitterness. Oak.

Conclusion: Ok, this one is pushing my ability to do tasting notes to the limit (or should that be..TO THE XTREME!!!!) (Actually no that would just be silly) It is a gueuze, that is a style I find hard enough to do good tasting notes on, much as I am growing to enjoy them now, however the interactions with the dry hopping on the beer is just blowing my mind.

There are the fruit flavours which you would expect from the hops, but would never expect from the lambic. The two mix together though, making for very dried fruit and everything seeped in sourness. There is tart apple and gooseberry behind and the beer rocks a slightly nutty character which is not unusual for a lambic, but here it gains a slight sugared almond sweetness. I have no idea how. Everything is familiar and yet everything is the fortean unknown.

This also helps show why lambics are the wine of beers, sour, tart and dry with white wine grape like elements; Against this the hop character still sets its stake and claims it distinctly as a beer. It is so refined, all the complexity of a gueuze, and yet makes itself so very easy to drink, It is pretty much the perfect balance between wine and beer and brings in the best of both while denying neither.

One of those beers that redefines how you look at a style.

Background: This was never meant to be reviewed. Or even bought. I mean it did sound interested, Gueuze – a traditionally low hopped style, instead with dry hopping of *deep breath* Citra, Centennial, Amarillo, Nelson Sauvin, Galaxy, Columbus, Tomahawk, Tettnang, Belma, Mandarina Bavaria, Calypose and Bravo. I don’t even know some of those hops. Anyway, despite that I was going to give it a pass. Then one staff member recommended it. Then another. Then a random beer drinker bemoaned losing a take out bottle after drinking several. I was now intrigued. So I drank it. and reviewed it The result is here. The Brewdog Bristol manager compared it to a souped up Orval and I can definitely see where he is coming from.

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.

Lindemans: Gueuze Lambic: Curvee Rene (Belgium: Lambic Gueuze: 5.5% ABV)

Visual: Grain gold. Large loose bubbled white head.

Nose: Horse blankets. Walnuts. Apricot skin. Lightly sweet.

Body: Tart. Apricot. Apple sours. Peanuts. Dry feeling.

Finish: Sour apples. Dry and acidic. Squeezed lemon. Moderate nuttiness and white wine.

Conclusion: Getting used to lambics can be hard to do, but is definitely worth it. It’s nice that once you get used to the more hardcore beers in the style then beers like this seem so much open than they did at first. This is a very dry example of the style and particularly wine like.  It does bring a few twists of its own to the table though.

The tart and dryness comes along with the usual horse blankets aroma and dry nuttiness. What’s good is that it adds an apricot sweetness that it hints at beneath the main flavours. It is not a powerful part of the character, but its the component that stands out the most from the pack. When mixed with the lemon freshness it keeps the beer at a very drinkable balance without inducing mouth puckering.

It isn’t on the sweeter end of the lambics, nor Cantillon sharp. It keeps a place to either help acclimatise someone who has got past the first baby steps into lambics, or a place to relax for those who have faced the full range.  At that point the wine like character is very graceful.

It is fresh and drinkable despite its very dry character. It shows the range of the style well and keeps itself smooth despite it’s natural tartness. Very well balanced.

A well defined and moderately punching lambic of good character.

Background: One of Michael Jackson’s 500 great beers. Drunk on a very warm day, just slightly chilled down.  After Cantillon tasting I think I’ve managed to get used to the lambic sourness and have been happily enjoying the others of the style.

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