Recently in Lambic Category

Oud Beersel Oude Kriek Vieille

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The conventional beer nerd line about lambic seems to indicate that only Cantillon and Drie Fonteinen are worth buying. That may be unfair (both make wonderful beer), but try finding a bottle of either that is not absurdly overpriced at a bar (and they'll make you open it at the bar too - no takeout). I would also put Guezerie Tilquin in that upper tier and I'm pretty sure that the only reason it's not is that people are so sick of overpaying for Cantillon and 3F that they don't want to acknowledge Tilquin's greatness, least they fly off the shelves, never be to seen again. Because I have, like, three regular readers, I have the luxury of not worrying about such things.

Regardless, the notion that only those three brands are worth checking out is patently ridiculous. It's true that most anything you get from them will be fantastic and worth the stretch (and even worth, sometimes, the price gouging you get at restaurants), but there's a pretty reliable second tier of lambic producers that are worth seeking out. Think Boon's Marriage Parfait line or Girardin's Black Label, amongst others. Oud Beersel certainly fits that mold as well.

Perhaps one thing that holds these breweries back a bit is that they put out younger, blander versions of their beer (with fruited varieties relying more on syrupy adjuncts than actual fruit). Boon's Marriage Parfait Gueuze is fantastic, but their regular gueuze doesn't quite stand up to the big guys (the Marriage Parfait tends to incorporate more 3 year old lambic into their blend than the regular). The blending process is key, and indeed, Drie Fonteinen still gets a significant portion of their wort from Boon (I'm pretty sure they are gradually decreasing their dependency on Boon and have expanding their own brewing operations, but it's pretty clear that the difference is aging and blending). Oud Beersel has a similar line of younger lambics and a line of "Vieille" lambics which seem to incorporate more mature stocks into the blend. While I wouldn't put this up there with Cantillon's fruited sours, it's still a pretty darn solid Kriek:

Oud Beersel Oude Kriek Vieille

Oud Beersel Oude Kriek Vieille - Pours a striking ruby red color with tons of fluffy pink head. Seriously, that image doesn't quite capture the striking appearance of this beer... I shall endeavor to take better pictures (I know, I'm the worst.) Smells of tart cherries, oak, and some dusty, musty funk - definitely a different house character than the other lambics I've had. Taste hits with tart, jammy fruit up front, moves quickly into some oak, that dusty, earthy funk in the middle, and a quick quick sour kick in the finish. When cold, its got sharp edges, but it smooths out a little as it warms. Mouthfeel is highly carbonated, dry up front but sticky in the finish, not as much oak as expected, but it gets fuller as it warms. Overall, a nice cherry lambic, certainly not top tier, but perhaps top of the middle tier... B+

Beer Nerd Details: 6.5% ABV bottled (375 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a Charente glass on 11/29/14. Best Before: 18.04.2032.

Not bad for a brewery that's been operating since 1882 (with a brief blip about a decade ago where it was ownerless), at this point I'd certainly like to check out their Oude Gueuze Vieille

Various and Sundry

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Astute readers will note that the grand majority of reviews here are for beers that I drink at home. This is not to say that I don't visit any local drinking establishments, just that I'm usually with other people and I don't want to be that dork who ignores his friends to write obsessive tasting notes. However, I do take my fair share of pictures and maybe check in to Untappd or somesuch. So I do have a fair amount of beer porn in my picture repository that doesn't really see the light of day. Until now! Enjoy these pictures and muddled recounting of various and sundry beers I've had recently, including a rather epic Birthday lineup. In fact, let's start there. It all started, naturally, at Tired Hands:

Tired Hands Cant Keep Up 8

Tired Hands is a small but very popular operation, so every once in a while, especially on weekends, they sell through more beer than is ready. At that point, Jean dips into the cellar and blends up a stopgap, often using some proportion of barrel aged awesome. The resulting beers are called Can't Keep Up, and this was the 8th installment in the series, made with beer from one of Christian Zellersfield's barrels (if he really exists). And my oh my, it was spectacular. Perhaps not quite Parageusia levels awesome, but for a beer that was whipped together under duress, it was rather spectacular. Speaking of spectacular, the other highlight of Tired Hands that day was a Citra IPA called Psychic Facelift. It turns out that I'd already visited Tired Hands earlier in the week and loved this, indeed, I even housed a growler of the stuff.

Tired Hands Psychic Facelift

It seems like Tired Hands always has great IPAs on tap, but this wan was exceptional even for them. Huge, juicy citrus character, absolutely quaffable stuff. Just superb. It's rare that I drink the same beer more than twice in short succession these days, and I think I had about 2 liters in the course of a couple days (I totally should have filled the larger growler, but hindsight is 20/20). Anywho, after some time there, we headed over to Teresa's Cafe (a few miles down the road) for some more substantial food and, of course, great beer. I had a Pliny the Elder, because how can you ignore that when it's on tap? Then my friends proved adventurous and generous, and we went in on a bottle of Cantillon Iris:

Cantillon Iris

It was fantastic, great balance between funk, sourness, and oak, really beautiful beer. And you can't beat the full pomp and circumstance, what with the proper glassware and pouring basket thingy... I had a few other beers, and they were all good, but I had a great birthday.

Some more random beer porn:

Double Sunshine

I guess I could have put up some Double Sunshine for trade, but I just couldn't handle having these in my fridge. I had to drink them.

Flying Dog Single Hop Imperial IPA Citra

It's no Double Sunshine, but I was very pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this Flying Dog Single Hop Imperial IPA (Citra). I usually don't enjoy IPAs when they get into the 10% ABV range, but this was extremely well balanced between sweet and bitter, and it had that great Citra hop character, tropical fruits, floral notes, and even a bit of herbal goodness. I've always enjoyed Citra-based beers, but I think I'm starting to really crave the stuff, which is going to be dangerous.

Bulldog Top Banana

This was from a long time ago, but it was another surprise, ordered totally at random one night. It's Bullfrog Top Banana, and it was a really solid saison made with bananas. I know that sounds a bit gimmicky and it's not one of those crazy funkified saisons either, but the banana fit seamlessly into their standard saison yeast profile, and it was an absolutely refreshing and tasty brew. Worth checking out if you see it. I should checkout this PA brewery sometime, perhaps go to a bottle release or something. Time will tell.

And that just about covers it. I hope you've enjoyed this rather lame stroll down beer lane. Until next time!

De Cam Oude Lambiek

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In the swanky world of lambic, brewers like Cantillon and Drie Fonteinen seem to get the grand majority of attention, but fine folks over at De Cam put out some decent stuff as well. Alas, I think this particular beer fell victim to one of my pet peeves: carbonation. Namely, this has very little in the way of carbonation, and while it has that very promising 3 years in a barrel, the unblended nature means that it doesn't quite live up to the expectations set by the likes of Cantillon and Drie Fonteinen. Of course, both of those breweries have janky uncarbonated and unblended versions of their beer too, so perhaps I shouldn't be too judgmental here, but this was still a bit of a disappointment for me.

De Cam Oude Lambiek

De Cam Oude Lambiek - Pours a golden color with visible carbonation but minimal head. The smell has a very nice funk to it, earthy, sour, fruity, almost vinious aromas, maybe a bit of oak and vanilla too. Taste is surprisingly tame, fruity but not super sour, almost like a sort of white grapejuice. There is a hint of sourness and some other funky notes, like earth or barnyard stuff, especially in the finish. Mouthfeel is light but almost flat, very little in the way of carbonation (and you know how I am with carbonation (and if you don't - I like my beers, especially sours like this, to have ample carbonation)), not super acidic or sour. Overall, this has some nice elements but is still a big disappointment. B-

Beer Nerd Details: 5% ABV bottled (750 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a Cantillon lambic glass on 6/28/14.

So I'm assuming this is the equivalent of something like Doesjel or Bruocsella, so I can't quite hold this against De Cam, even if this does not make a particularly good first impression (especially considering the price), but I'd totally be willing to try the "regular" Oude Geuze De Cam, which seems like it plays in the same territory as the big boys... but then, I need to actually find a bottle of that stuff, which may be difficult...

Oude Quetsche Tilquin

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Once upon a time, Gueuzerie Tilquin made a believer out of me when it came to sour beers. Before Tilquin Oude Gueuze, I was like those scared apes at the beginning of 2001, cautiously approaching the sour beer monolith and giving it a tap every now and again. Throw a bottle in the air, smash cut to the space age, and now I'm rubbing vinegar on my gums in between sour beers just to keep things interesting.

Given the near impossibility of finding Cantillon and 3 Fonteinen on the shelf these days, it's amazing to me that Tilquin is out there for the taking. I almost don't want to speak so highly of them for fear that these wonderful beers will disappear forever. The thrill of the hunt is all well and good, but it can get old after a while. It's nice to pop over to State Line Liquors every now and again and see a "new" (I believe this came out last year) Tilquin beer like this one and just pick it up. But this is legit lambic, and I'd actually hold the Gueuze up above the standard Cantillon and 3 Fonteinen offerings (the non-standard ones, on the other hand, are another story, but that's still saying a lot). I originally graded the Gueuze an A-, but I've had it a couple times since then and I'd give it a firm upgrade to straight A territory.

This particular expression is a blend of 1 and 2 year old oak aged lambics that are then put in a stainless steel tank with "destoned fresh purple plums" for an additional 4 months (the sugars from the plums are fermented and mixed with the standard lambic). Color me intrigued:

Oude Quetsche Tilquin

Oude Quetsche Tilquin à L'Ancienne - Pours a golden orange color with a sorta pinkish hue and a finger of white head. Smells deeply of funk and oak, earthy, fruity, with the sour twang tickling in the nose. Taste starts out sweet with tart fruit, some earthy character picking up in the middle along with a dollop of oak, followed by an intense sourness that charges through the finish. I don't know that I'd pick out plums here, but it's clearly fruited, and it's a very well balanced melding of the standard Tilquin with a more fruity character. Mouthfeel is highly carbonated and crisp, with some tannic oak, plenty of acidity and some puckering, especially towards the finish. Overall, this is fantastic. A

Beer Nerd Details: 6.4% ABV bottled (375 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a flute glass on 12/14/13. Best before: 29/01/2023.

So very good. The only Tilquin I've not yet had is the draft version, which is a slightly younger lambic with a lower ABV. I'll have to jump on that the next time I see it...

Framboise For A Cure

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Every year, the fine folks at Russian River host a month long fundraiser for breast cancer awareness, with the centerpiece being Framboise For A Cure, a sour blonde ale comprised of 80% Temptation and 20% of something called Sonambic, a new beer they've been working on using a traditional Coolship (just like them official lambic makers). The blend is then aged in Chardonnay barrels with fresh raspberries. It sounds heavenly, no?

Fortunately for me, the owner of Philly institution Monk's Cafe, Tom Peters, is good friends with the folks at Russian River and every year, they host a fundraiser of their own. They even release a small amount of bottles, which, alas, I was not able to secure because I'm lazy and didn't get there until a little after opening. However, I was still fortunate enough to get a taste on tap (and I also picked up another bottle that will no doubt be making an appearance on the blog sometime soon), so let's get going:

Russian River Framboise For A Cure

Russian River Framboise For A Cure - Bright ruby red color (so many robey tones, you guys), almost no head, though a cap of pinkish hued stuff sticks around so maybe it was just the initial pour or something. Smells of funk, oak, and twangy raspberry. Taste hits that raspberry sweetness up front, oak kicking in towards the middle, with a sourness also coming to the fore in the middle and lasting through the finish, where that raspberry returns and everything ties together. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, crisp and sharp, a little sticky in the finish. Overall, this is a superb, well balanced, complex sour. A

Beer Nerd Details: 6.5% ABV on tap. Drank out of a goblet on 10/19/13.

Because Monk's is awesome, they were also pouring some other limited gems that I couldn't resist... it's for a cure people! And not to go all dudebro on you, but I like breasts. Sue me.

Cantillon Vigneronne

Cantillon Vigneronne - This is a lambic made with hand-picked muscat grapes, and it's apparently one of the rarer varieties due to the scarcity of grapes (not to mention Cantillon's general capacity issues). Pours a clear gold color, again with the no head. Smells like a gueuze, taste has a vinous character matched with gueuze-like oak and biting sourness. It is, perhaps, not quite as powerful as a full gueuze, presumably the influence of the grapes. Mouthfeel has a snap to it, well carbonated, just a bit of stickiness in the finish... Overall, I think drinking these two beers back to back pretty much obliterated my palate, but it was totally worth it, and this was clearly another winner from Cantillon. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 5% ABV on tap. Drank out of a goblet on 10/19/13.

Not bad for a lowly Saturday afternoon. I'm going to have to find a way to drag myself out of bed earlier next year and maybe snag a bottle. In any case, I was quite happy to try it on tap and as I mentioned, I managed to snag a bottle of something pretty special, so it was a good day, is what I'm saying.

Cantillon Saint Lamvinus

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Earlier this year, I got fed up with coming up empty on Cantillon hunts, and in a moment of weakness (or strength, if you prefer) I broke down and ordered several bottles straight from the source. I got some of the "normal" varieties, but was also quite pleased to have snagged a Saint Lamvinus and decided to save the best for last. Along the way, I unexpectedly stumbled onto a bottle of Fou' Foune, and I'm really glad I had these two beers in relatively close proximity because they share a lot of character, while still being distinct. Now, for whatever reason, Fou' Foune is hyped to high heaven (even for a Loon), while Saint Lamvinus is merely a prized masterpiece.

If the opinions of a bunch of strangers on the internet are to be believed, these two beers are either of identical quality (both being rated 3.98), or the Fou' Foune is slightly better than its saintly brother (4.62 vs 4.51, which are both obscenely high). They both seem to be pretty rare, though maybe Fou' Foune is moreso. They are both exceptional beers and are very reminiscent of each other. Maybe people like apricots more than grapes, eh? Or, you know, who cares? It's great beer, I'm just going to drink it.

So this is made with merlot and cabernet-franc grapes which are soaked in Bordeaux barrels containing two to three years old lambic. Typical lambics are blended with "young" lambic to ensure the bottle conditioning generates enough carbonation, but the Saint Lamvinous is unblended. In place of young lambic, Cantillon sez they ensure carbonation in the bottle through the "addition of a liquor which starts the fermentation". I suppose we could get into a whole wine versus beer thing at this point, but ultimately, Cantillon is doing its own thing, and they're doing it very well:

 Cantillon Saint Lamvinus

Cantillon Saint Lamvinus - Pours a deep ruby color with a finger or two of lightly pink, dense head. Smells of musty funk, oak, cherry, and grapes. Taste is sweet, with the grapes coming through, but not quite reaching Welches levels, if you know what I mean. The funk and light oak presence give it a nice kick that prevents it from being too fruity or too vinous. A nice tart sourness pervades the taste, escalating at the start, peaking in the middle and fading through the finish. Vinegar, cherries, grapes, tart sourness, funk, oak, this is very complex but well integrated. Mouthfeel is lightly bodied, crisp, and dry in the finish. Compulsively drinkable, a little lighter than expected, but still very nice. Overall, this is amazing stuff, easily the equal of Fou' Foune and again, it was a very similar experience, with the major difference being the fruit used... A

Beer Nerd Details: 5% ABV bottled (750 ml capped and corked). Drank out of a flute glass on 8/24/13. Bottled 21 November 2012. Best before November 2022.

I've stashed away a bottle or two of duplicates, but have otherwise run out of new Loons. I will, of course, be scouring the earth to get my hands on more (including a potential Iris sighting), so I'm sure you'll see more Cantillon soon.

Cantillon Fou' Foune

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I'm not generally one for the pomp and circumstance of serving beer. Maybe it's just because the most elaborate process I've seen is the ridiculous 9 step ritual for serving Stella Artois. That's a lot of work for very little payoff, if you ask me. So anyway, whilst perusing the beer menu at a local establishment, I spied some of that prized Cantillon Fou' Foune and went in on a bottle with some friends. Now we all know Cantillon's stellar reputation, but the hype surrounding this particular loon (a lambic made with apricots) goes well beyond even that. It cost a pretty penny too, but that's softened somewhat by splitting the bottle (that being said, if you can find it, ordering direct from Belgium and paying the obscene shipping would probably work out to a similar price) and we were pretty happy to ritualize the tasting of this stuff.

Our original plan was to take it home and enjoy there, but the bar requires the bottle to be opened on the premises, as they've apparently run into douchebags who would buy bottles from them, then turn around and sell them online for a stiff markup. This is a topic I've bludgeoned to death before, so I'll leave it at that. But one advantage to having it at the bar was that pomp and circumstance. Check out the proper brewery glassware and that swanky lambic serving basket:

Cantillon Fou Foune

But as with the likes of Stella, ritual sez nothing about what's in the bottle, so let's find out if this khaki whale lives up to the hype:

Cantillon Fou' Foune - Pours a very pretty golden color. Nose is pure apricot and musty funk. Very nice. Taste has that beautiful oak aged character, with a big fruity, tart pop, moderate sourness. Intense and complex, but very well balanced. Mouthfeel is very well carbonated, crisp, a little acidic, some vinegar, perfect proportions. Overall, superb, delicious, would drink again (for the sarcasm impaired, this means that I'll be scouring the earth to find more bottles). A

Beer Nerd Details: 5% ABV bottled (750 ml capped and corked). Served from a lambic basket to a Cantillon flute.

I would have taken better notes, but then, I was trying to be social and felt bad enough scribbling in shorthand into my phone for a minute. Anywho, it's been a pretty fantastic few weeks here at Kaedrin. Things will likely not remain so exciting, but stay tuned, there's lots of fantastic beer on deck here at Kaedrin HQ, and a potential Vermont trip in the near future may result in more fun.

Cantillon Rosé De Gambrinus

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Made in pretty much the same fashion as the Kriek, but with raspberries instead of cherries. Named Rosé because of the color, but dedicated to Gambrinus instead of Bacchus. Gambrinus is a legendary king of Flanders, and an unofficial patron saint of brewing (the official honor belongs to Saint Arnold). He's also apparently getting a lapdance on the label of this beer. Good for him.

Cantillon Rosé De Gambrinus

Cantillon Rosé De Gambrinus - Pours a clear, bright red/amber color, so many robey tones, with a finger of fizzy pink head. Smells of raspberries and oak, with that lactic twang tweaking my nose for good measure. Taste hits with oak and sweet raspberries, with a fruity, tartness hitting in the middle and intensifying into a puckering, sour finish. The oak character is really well developed here, almost as prominent as the raspberries. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, crisp, medium bodied with a richness I associate with the oak, and pretty darn refreshing. Overall, another winner from Cantillon. I still might prefer the Kriek, but I think that's just because I like cherries better than raspberries! A-

Beer Nerd Details: 5% ABV bottled (375 ml capped and corked). Drank out of a Cantillon Gueuze tumbler on 5/31/13. Bottled 12 October 2011.

And the hits from Cantillon just keep coming. A couple more in the pipeline, too. Very exciting.

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Hi, my name is Mark, and I like beer.

You might also want to check out my generalist blog, where I blather on about lots of things, but mostly movies, books, and technology.

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This page is an archive of recent entries in the Lambic category.

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