Pre-emptive stash raid

Because we want to be in gear when Stash Day is formally announced, we’ve started picking off some of the bottles we’ve acquired but deemed too special to actually drink.

First up, Cantillon Lou Pepe Framboise 2006, which we bought at the brewery early last year.

The Lou Pepe beers are a sub-range which, as Cantillon put it:

…deviate from [the usual Cantillon] principles. The Gueuze Lou Pepe is made with two years old lambic beers with a mellow taste, often coming from barrels in which only wine has been kept before. In July, the same kind of beer is used to make the Lou Pepe Kriek and Framboise. With these beers too, the fruits are soaked in barrels coming directly from Bordeaux… The second fermentation of these particular beers is not caused by the addition of young lambic but of a sweet liquor… The Kriek and the Rosé de Gambrinus contain 200 g of fruits per liter on an average, while the Lou Pepe beers contain about 300 g.

It fizzes violently at first, creating a huge mousse-like head which disappears almost immediately, leaving in the glass something that looks like red wine. It smells of… Now, the euphemisms are usually barnyard or animal related, but let’s be frank here: it smells a bit like poo. Once we’d got over that, however, we found a fairly gentle tasting, sweetish beer.

We enjoyed it but, frankly, not as much as the super-sour, popping candy of a beer that is the standard Cantillon Kriek.

Champagne moments

vignerone

So England regain the Ashes, convincingly in the end although I’m sure I wasn’t the only one getting nervous.

When Ponting and then Clarke were run out in short succession, I started hunting around for something bubbly to chill.  We eventually settled on Vigneronne, which is a lambic with added grapes, brewed by Cantillon.

It certainly had the right champers-like consistency and lots of bubbles.  It’s not as overwhelmingly sour as some of the other Cantillon offerings, with a slight sweetness towards the end.  If we didn’t know it had grapes in, we probably wouldn’t have guessed, but all in all it made a nice refreshing drink for the garden.  Iris is still our favourite though.

Boak

Boozy birthday

The Brugse Zot jester clown gremlin thing grimaces from a beer glass
The Brugse Zot jester clown gremlin thing grimaces from a beer glass

It was my birthday recently and naturally I celebrated by consuming a lot of very nice beer at various venues, with various people. We didn’t take detailed tasting notes but here are some summarised thoughts:

  • Westmalle Triple is my current favourite trappist beer. I like the way it combines the interesting “horseblankety-ness” of something like Orval with a beautiful rounded malt sweetness and fruitness.
  • Or maybe Rochefort 10 is my favourite? Gloopy chocolate in a goblet.
  • Brugs Zot Bruin (currently on tap in the Dove) impressed with its heavy body and fruity flavour. And at 7.4% it’s a lot lighter than its impact might suggest.
  • Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barley Wine doesn’t age that well, or perhaps we didn’t age it well. We’ve enjoyed it in the past, but we drank a bottle that’s been in the “cellar” for nine months, and the hops were just way too overpowering. Where did the malt go?
  • Similarly, an aged bottle of Cantillon Gueuze didn’t live up to expectations. We bought it this time last year when we visited the brewery, where we sampled the Gueuze and found it fabulous. It was nice enough, but just not as special as you want from something that’s come out of a dusty old corked bottle.
  • Crouch Vale Brewers Gold really is a wonderful drop. If we hadn’t excluded cask-conditioned beer from the selection, it would have been right in there in our beer tasting for beginners.
  • Estrella Damm is still our favourite mainstream Spanish lager, because you can actually taste the malt and hops. Estrella de Galicia is still too sweet for me (sorry, Chela).

Boak

Fruit beers in the garden

We were going to return to our quest for a decent Baltic Porter, as we’ve got a few awaiting tasting. However, it was such a lovely day yesterday that we decided to drink fruit beers in the garden instead.

To give some context to our tasting notes; neither of us are massive fruit beer fans, and we certainly both prefer our fruit beer to be identifiably *beer* first and foremost, not an alcopop. I really can’t deal with overly sweet drinks of any form, but I do have a bit of a “sour tooth”, whereas Bailey doesn’t tend to go for sour flavours.

Timmerman’s Kriek, 4%
Looks quite artificial, with deep red colour and pink head. There’s a definite hint of sourness in the aroma though, which is promising. The taste – Bassett’s cherry drops. The aftertaste contains a blast of pure sugar on the end of the tongue which I’m not so keen on, but overall, it’s not as bad as I was expecting, i.e. not as sickly sweet as Fruli.

Boon Kriek 4%

We had high hopes for this one, as it seems to be generally quite rated and is as authentic as you like. However, it was a lot like the Timmerman’s – overly sweet and not very complex at all. It was a bit more buttery than Timmerman’s, and had even less sourness.

Mort Subite Kriek (original) 4.5%
This we liked a lot. It’s a much less lurid pink, and the flavour is a great balance of sweet and sour, with a nice dry refreshing finish. Definitely a lot more going on with this one than Timmerman’s or Boon. The difference is in the aftertaste – whereas with the above two we got sugar, and not a lot else, here you get a crisp fruitiness that lingers on the palate.

Meantime Raspberry Grand Cru 6.5%
Bit of an odd one out in this session (raspberry, not lambic, British) but it’s always been a favourite, not least because it’s beer first and raspberry second, with a good bitterness that you don’t tend to get in fruit beers. That’s what we remembered, anyway (see a review from December 2007 here). It always tastes slightly different from batch to batch in the Union, their brewery tap, and we’ve noted that in the last few years it’s become less pink and less obviously raspberry-flavoured.

However, this incarnation (and it is the stronger “grand cru” version) seems to have forgotten the raspberries altogether. There’s a generic fruity taste, a bit like a nice Koelsch, but unless someone told you it was raspberry, you wouldn’t know. The refreshing tartness makes it a pleasant drink, but I think would be a disappointment to people looking for a fruit beer, and at 6.5%, this is not one you want to quaff much of in the sun.

Disappointing – I know this can be better.

Cantillon Kriek 5%
We bought this when we visited the brewery back in August 2007, so it’s been in storage for around nine months, in addition to the time it’s already spent at the brewery.

You have to have the courage of your convictions when you drink this beer. If you gingerly sip it, all you get is SOUR, but if you take a big gulp and let it cover your tongue, there’s a pleasing explosion of apple, cherry, pink grapefruit and strawberry, with red wine / sherry notes in the finish.

I’d be lying if I said I wanted to sip this all day long; even in the sun it’s hard work, although the champagne body and bubbles gives it a pleasing decadent feel.

All in all, Mort Subite was the surprising winner for both of us.

For more tantalising beer on grass action, check out Beer Nut’s post on wheatbeers. He’s got a bigger garden than us though.

For more on fruitbeers, here’s a Session post we did back in August 2007 on the same topic, including notes on our own blackberry beer.

Boak