For some people it’s their birthday, for others it’s Thanksgiving, and for many it’s Christmas. I’m talking about our favorite day of the year. Although I love time with family and friends, the fact that holidays are only good for really an 18 hour span at most is a little too temporary. And once you celebrate your 21st birthday, it’s really all downhill from there. My favorite day of the year – today. The second Sunday in March. Why? Well, living in New England, our winters are cold, dark, and dreary. With daylight saving time, we brighten up our afternoons by one hour and more importantly, it signifies they unofficial start to my favorite season. With the warmer weather comes lighter beers that are vibrant, bubbly, and best drank outside. What better way to celebrate my favorite day and some Spring rejuvenation with arguably the best sour beer in the world? This brew really needs no introduction, so lets get right into those numbers…
Appearance: Fou’ Foune pours a springtime 6:45 sunset orange color that is very cloudy in color. If there’s anything prettier than a murky IPA, it’d be a cloudy sour. The brew had a white head which left the beer after about 20 seconds. Bubbles were very effervescent like when pouring a glass of seltzer water.
Smell: Musty basement, vinegar, citric acid, sour candy, and big fruitiness from the apricots. The apricots are quite pronounced in this brew, and I am drinking this within the suggested time frame that Cantillon states on the bottle; within the year it’s bottled (8/2014). The younger it is the more fruit forward Cantillon claims, the older the more sour.
Taste: Oh my. Ohhhhhhh my. This is my second go around with any Cantillon beer, and I must say that this is quite a treat. The initial flavor is very sour, which I was actually quite surprised with. I knew it was going to have some tartness and funk, but I thought the apricots would be more apparent, especially given the smell. I can’t imagine how this would sour with age if it already tastes this puckering. I do get some fruitiness however with some tart apricot skin and a bit of the flesh, but it is not the star of the show. In addition the the traditional lactic and citric acid of many sours, I have to say Fou has a ton of funk going on. The brett in here is pronounced giving off bitter orange oils that complement the apricot and sourness. I typically hate when people describe sours as having a “horse blanket” characteristic, because I doubt they have been around horses long enough to know what one actually smells like, however it this Cantillon does taste more barnyard/state fairish than other sours I’ve had.
The funk and sourness stays throughout the beer, but the flavors come together better after the second pour. One off flavor that was pretty apparent on the first helping was a odd band-aid/phenol note that added strange bitterness to the brew. On the second go around, it just blends in with the rest of the funk, sour, and bitterness of the brew. The finish on Fou’ Foune is very, very dry and champagne like. In part, the reminiscence to champagne is due to the carbonation of this brew. I wouldn’t say it is overly carbonated, but the bubbles are very fine and pop all over your palate. The ABV is low, typical of most sours, and clocks in at 5% even. The funk and sourness make this a sipper for sure, but I wouldn’t want it any other way; you need to take your time and appreciate all of the flavors that are going on in here.
Overall: If I were to have had this beer at a bottle share and was only given a small pour, I would have likely given this a B+/A-. The first pour took some warming up to – I wasn’t expecting as much sour or funk, however on pours 2, 3, and 4, the brew really started to change and come together, especially as it got a little warmer. All said and done, I have to give it an A. Tilquin Quetsche is still my favorite sour to date, but this gives it a run. It’s definitely more complex and funkified than Quetsche, and for that, it is a totally unique experience.
If you ever come across a Fou, you’ll have a decision to make: drink right away or age. Age would only make this beer more sour, and form this experience, I can say this is already quite sour less than a year old. Fortunately for me, Moe from CraftBeerKings.com had a cellar sale and I was able to pick up a 2013 which I plan on opening in 5 – 8 years, so we’ll see how time changes the brew. (Thanks again bud!) I suggest pulling the trigger on this guy and save it for your favorite day of the year.