Type: Lambic Gueuze
So I got some inside information that my favorite local bar was getting some Cantillon kegs in. These beers are usually not seen on tap outside of Belgium. So for the past few weeks I have kept my eyes on their Facebook page waiting for the release. Well today is the day that the first one is being out on, and coincidentally I was working downtown and able to go right when they opened at lunch. I am really trying to give sour beers a chance, and Cantillon is one of the highest regarded tart peddlers around. Now their beers usually come in a big old wine bottle, which costs at least an arm and some portion of leg. Also nobody wants to sit and drink one of these things alone. Almost a liter of sour beer is meant to be split with someone else. Since I have nobody else who is willing to get into sours with me, I have not had a chance to try these big Belgian lambics. Well today me, myself, and I got to have a glass fresh (if you can call a blended 3 year old lambic fresh) off the tap.
Pours a light orangish color, hazy but still relatively clearer then I thought it might be. Very thin white head that dissipates in the blink of an eye into a tiny ring around the glass. Smells is citrusy and funky. Little bit of dry vinous or cider notes. Honestly not much different then other lambics I have tried. The taste is where I notice a lot if difference. Most if my experience with lambic has been with so called "younger" versions. This type of lambic, or Gueuze, is a blend of older and newer barrel aged lambics. In the case of this beer a one year old, two year and a three year old. I have read a lot of breweries don't age it as long, or blend as many vintages as this. This added aging, and perhaps just having over a century of experience, has made this a much more balanced taste then others I have tried.
The taste is actually quite nicely balanced. It is tart, like fresh lemon juice, with that same kind of acidic bite. The lactic acid isn't overpowering and vinegary, like I have found in some sours. Hints of apple and possibly just the absolute barest trace of those famous barrels. The funk factor is definitely there, though it sticks in the background making your mind wander to a damp farmhouse cellar, or some musty old hops. Mouthfeel is dry, but not as dry as I imagined it would be. Actual sourness is more subtle then some lambics I have tried. That extra year on their lambics must mellow it out a bit because this actually has a bit of depth of flavor to it. I had an unblended lambic once that was like drinking the bottle of malt vinegar at the table in the pub. (Well pubs where I come from) These beers always remind me of apple cider, specifically the dry hard variety. In fact giving this to someone with no beer knowledge they would probably ask you why you were having a glass of apple cider vinegar.
I enjoyed trying this beer, in fact it is my top Gueze as of now. (Short list) I am still hard pressed to find the amazing nuances other people rave about in these beers. I can tell this is of a bit more quality then others I have tried, but in the end the flavor profile is still pretty similar.Maybe I am not enlightened enough to enjoy a good lambic. Maybe I should just shut up and enjoy having a good beer on tap in my favorite bar. Looking forward to the other Cantillon beers seeing the light of day and making their way into my glass.