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Hanssens Oude Schaarbeekse Kriek

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Schaerbeek is nicknamed "the city of donkeys" because they are ruled by a master race of giant, hyper-intelligent donkeys (and I, for one, welcome our new donkey overlords and would like to remind them that as a trusted blogging personality, I can be helpful in rounding up others to toil in their underground cherry caves.) Or, you know, people of Schaerbeek, who were cultivators of sour cherries, would use donkeys to transport their precious cargo to its various destinations. One of those things. Anyway, the traditional cherries used in lambic krieks came from that region, but as lambic production has increased, the usage of authentic Schaarbeekse cherries has lessened due to obvious supply and demand pressures. Many breweries risk the "wrath of the donkeys" to do limited runs of their standard krieks with Schaarbeekse cherries, and the result is generally considered a step above the normal kriek offerings.

Hanssens tends to be known more for their Gueuze, which is very good, but when you take their standard kriek (a middle-of-the-road fruited lambic offering, quite nice but not a monster at all) and substitute those Schaarbeekse cherries, they manage to put out an interesting special release. Which, of course, is what we have here.

Hanssens Oude Kriek Handgeplutkte Schaarbeekse Krieken

Hanssens Oude Kriek Handgeplutkte Schaarbeekse Krieken - Pours a deep, dark red color with a little fizzy head that is not long for this world. Smells great, tons of cherry character, but also some oaky aromas and a very nice earthy funk too. Taste has a nice and rich cherry flavor, plenty of oak, and a little earthy funk livening things up (or, er, grounding them?) Sourness peeks in towards the middle and intensifies through the finish. More acetic than usual, but not at all inappropriate and still well balanced. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, a bit low on the carbonation (but nowhere near still), a little sticky or syrupy, but still pleasantly so, moderate to high acidity. Overall, this is delicious. A slight increase in carbonation would make this one a classic. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 375 ml bottled(375 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a flute glass on 10/29/16. Bottled: March 2015.

So that's a nice offering from Hanssens, a mildly underrated lambic producer (I have not reviewed their Gueuze, but it's good and reliably available).

Hanssens Oude Kriek

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My flirtation with sour beers continues unabated. I haven't quite reached the sad level where I'm so addicted to acetic flavors that I'm rubbing vinegar on my gums in my spare time, but I like to think that I've gained something of an appreciation for well crafted sour beers. Most recently, I've been blown away by the likes of Rodenbach Grand Cru, Russian River Supplication (a beer I'd had before, but which really blew me away upon revisiting), and Marrón Acidifié. That being said, I still find sours to be a bit of a mixed bag for me... I'm guessing that as time goes on, I will gain even more affinity for the various sour styles, but for now, I'm still stuck in that experimental stage.

Hanssens seems to have a reasonably good reputation, though I get the impression from reading folks like Beerbecue that they tend towards the sweeter, more puckering, acidic side of things. Let's see how this Oude Kriek (beer with cherries that's spontaneously fermented and "matured for over three years") fares:

Hanssens Oude Kriek

Hanssens Oude Kriek - Pours a bright red color with a couple fingers of pink head. The smell features that trademark sour twang, some earthy funk, and maybe some of that oak character. The taste starts very sweet and very sour, lots of fruitiness (cherries, obviously) and funk, mellowing out a little as the taste evolves. Mouthfeel is well carbonated but appropriate. The sourness packs an acidic, funky punch; it's certainly an eye opener. Overall, a solid beer, but not something that transcends my typical thoughts on kriek beers (certainly better than the easily found Lindemans Kriek, but that's not saying much)... B

Beer Nerd Details: 6% ABV bottled (375 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a tulip glass on 8/31/12. Label sez: Lot nr: G.

Can't say as though I'm all fired up to try more Hanssens beers, but this was certainly a cromulent entry in the sour experiment. Still, I'd rather seek out some of the better regarded Belgian sours (or even american Maestros like the folks up at Cascade, if I can ever get a line on those).

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