Tilquin Oude Mûre À l’ancienne (2014 – 2015)

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When people ask you what your favorite beer is, it can often be a tougher question than who you favorite child is.  It all depends on the day, the season, the month, the weather, the time, etc…  However, I can unequovically claim that Tilquin Quetsche is in the top 5 of all time for me.  Tilquin Squared may very well be my favorite non-fruited sour (that or Allagash Coolship Resurgam).  Regardless, this gueuzerie from Belgium has been making sours that are simply delectable.  I’m hoping lightening strikes for a third time with their newly released Mûre, a lambic aged on blackberries.  Let’s run them numbers to find out…

Appearance:  Reddish maroon with some haze to it.  Second pour was much more opaque than the first as more of the schmutz fell into the bottle.  No head to speak of and no lacing as I drank.

Smell:  Classic gueuze and Tilquin funk going on.  Musty oak, sour fruit, and mild acidity.  No heavy hint of blackberry on the sniff – in fact, outside of the beers color, I don’t think I’d say this was a fruited sour on smell alone.

Taste:  Refreshing.  Tart oak up and base gueuze up front followed by stinging lemon sourness.  Not a ton of blackberrIMG_3867y at first sip or even during the mid palate, but you get a quick spray of them on the finish – very subtle.  It’s a little disappointing with the lack of fruit in here, however the taste of this beer is on point.  Cobwebby oak, hot attic, stone fruit, and acidic.  Everything I would want out of a Belgian sour that has a 10 year shelf life.  I will mention that on the second pour, the beer got a little sweeter and had more fruit.  I would recommend rolling this bottle to break up the yeast cake before pouring – the second pour has a bigger tart fruit finish than the first.

The body on this brew is also part of the reason why I like it so much – it’s thinner than balding 30 something’s hair.  It makes it super easy to drink and complements what little fruit I do find on the finish.  The 6.4% ABV is something that I come to expect out of Tilquin and is average to above average for sours of this style.  The carbonation is right where I want it for a fruited sour as it was a little more bubbly than most beers, but again helped with it’s easy drinkability.

Overall:  I enjoyed Tilquin Mûre.  It reminded me a lot of Quetsche only it was a little thinner on the body.  It was as sour as their plum lambic, which I was a big fan of, but the lack of bursting blackbarry was a bit disappointing.  I’d certainly buy it again if I found it on the shelf, but I have had fruited sours with a little be more… well, fruit.  Overall, I’ll give it an A-.  Not a top 5, but still very tasty.

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Cantillion Kriek 100% Lambic Bio

IMG_3483Belgian brewing behemoth, Cantillion, makes some of the world’s greatest sour beers.  On deck is a fruited sour brewed with Morello cherries, aka, Kriek (the Belgian word for the varietal of cherry used in this brew).  Although it’s one of the “easier” Cantillion beers to acquire, any beverage from this Brussels brewery is a treat to open… then open again (that cap & cork combo is something that I’ll never quite get).  Let’s run them numbers for a perfect summer beer.

Appearance: Red.  Enough said?  Pink Cadillac head that dissipated very quickly and zero lacing as I drank.  The first pour was more transparent than the second, but both were murky.IMG_3487

Smell:  Lemons, granny smith apples, mustiness, oak, slight Cantillion funk (band-aids), lemon Italian ice, sprite, and some wine.  Nose is all over, but all the flavors compliment one another, this should be a treat to drink.

Taste:  Extremely sour.  This is the most sour Cantillion I’ve had yet, with so many flavors appearing from lemons, cherries, and limes to apples, passion fruit, and kiwi.  The fruits are complimented by what seems like a mulled wine taste and sour tape.  The fruits are the star and that Cantillon funk that I smelled pretty much stays bottled up – I did get a little bit initially, but it faded quickly and only lasted two sips.  This is by far the cleanest Cantillion bottle I’ve had to date.

While sour up front and full of great fruity tastes, this is lacking some complexity.  Outside of cherry, candy, and mulled wine flavors (which one could argue makes this complex enough), there aren’t manyIMG_3470 layers this beer.  The finish is exactly the same as the first sip/mid palate and there’s not much oak shining through.  That said, you don’t need an incredibly complex brew for it to be a knock out.  Cantillon’s Kriek is a flawless Kriek that slams it out of the park with cherry and complementary fruit flavors.  It’s crisp, refreshing, and perfect for an 80 degree day.

The ABV in here is perfect for the style at only 5.0% and the carbonation is zesty like tiny bubbled sparkling water.  The mouthfeel is thin to medium bodied which helps make this a phenomenally drinkable sour.

Overall:  Cantillon Kriek gets an A.  I love how the band-aid flavor that I’ve gotten from other Cantillon bottles didn’t come out and I admire how fruit forward and clean this brew is.  It’s a great beer, and honestly, not all that different from its Lou Pepe older brother.  Cheers!

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Cantillon Rosé de Gambrinus

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A Rose by any other name would not taste as sour.  Shakespeare clearly wasn’t inspired by raspberry aged sours from one of Belgium’s best breweries, and what a shame that was.  It would have made his plays much more tolerable.  Cantillon strikes again with yet another fruited sour blushingly titled Rosé de Gambrinus – a two year old lambic aged with heaps of raspberries in oak vessels.  Let’s crack this fruited sour…

IMG_1937Appearance:  Red.  Like, really red.  Fire engine red.  Of course, it has the pink head to boot that very quickly vanished into the beer.  No lacing on this guy at all… but man, I’m still in awe of this color, it’s incredible.  Pictures can’t do it justice.

Smell:  Funk, hay, methane, band-aids, hint of raspberries, and acidity.  Typical Cantillion smells leaving this glass, however I expected Rosé to be a bit more fruit forward on the nose.  This was bottled less than three months ago, but I get much more funk than I do fruit.

Taste:  Much fruitier than the smell would suggest.  A raspberry explosion across my palate with the sourness cutting instantly the sweetness of the berries.  This is one hell of a lambic.  With a lot of young fruited sours, there can be a bit of a medicinal, phenolic quality to them, but it seems as if RoIMG_1910sé is relatively immune to that (pun intended).  However, like many Cantillon beers I’ve had, there is a touch of a band-aid aftertaste on the finish, which takes away from the brew.  The finish is also super dry and crisp.  The second pour of this brew was even more fruit forward than the first and the yeast cake at the bottom of the bottle was actually red.  The raspberry flavors spewing from this brew continue from pour to last sip.  Tagging along with those raspberries are some cranberry, grape, and lemon flavors which complement the beer perfectly.

At only 5% ABV, this beer is a summer crusher.  Nicely sour with great carbonation and a light mouthfeel. 

Overall:  I’d give Rosé an A-/A.  Coolship Red was more impressive than this beer without the strange off flavors, however Cantillon’s offering is still wonderful.  A deep raspberry flavor sticks with you all the way through this beer and a puckering sourness accompanies those berries.  If you’re a fan of lambics, I’m sure you’d be inspired to write some sonnets afterwards.

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Cantillon Fou’ Foune

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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…

IMG_1616Appearance:  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 toIMG_1639n 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 fIMG_1608or 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.

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Tilquin Oude Quetsche À l’ancienne (2013 – 2014)

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Having a little French in me, I know that Purple is often regarded as a Royal color. It’s seen across Mardi Gras parades, the artist formerly known as Prince endorses it in velvet, and the Baltimore Ravens won two Super Bowls in their young history sporting the color at home games. The Gueuzerie currently known as Tilquin carries on the tradition of taking the color purple and elevating it. They already have a widely successful beer in Tilquin Gueuze, a blend of multiple Belgian worts fermented in oak, but they have slowly branched out and started trying new things. Quetsche is a Lambic that embraces Tilquin’s style of excelling blending with a little twist.  A moundful of macerated purple plums get’s tossed into the barrels to simmer for months upon end resulting in one of the more uniquely colored beer’s I’ve had in a while. Time to run them numbers…

IMG_1153Appearance:  Cloudy, fleshy plum orange, and opaque.  A beautifully strange color one would only hope for from a brew aged on plums.

Smell:  Corn flakes, sweet flowers, you can tell there is fruit, just not quite sure exactly if it’s apricots, apples, plums, or a hybrid of all three.  A citrus, acidic smell is also wafting from the Teku that’s commonly found in many sours.  You can tell it’s going to pucker.

Taste: This Lambic starts off tart, but then like Popey crushing a can of spinach, it quickly amps up to a level that is cringingly sour.  The sourness explodes all over the palate and carries throughout the beer all the way to the finish.  The plums really shine here.  The sour flavors are reminiscent of the skin of the plum which tends to be surprisingly tart.  That taste is very identifiable in this beer, however the flesh of the plum is definitely on the back burner.

IMG_1165In addition to the sourness, I get flavors that are earthy, musty, and oaky, with pitted black olive finish.  Some sweetness comes in late which tastes ever so slightly like the flesh of a plum.  Quetsche is very clean with no off flavors.  It does have a little bitterness that hits you – it reminds me of the pit when you get down to the core of a plum.  It’s earthy.  The tartness subsides slightly as the beer warms up, and more fruit flavors come out – granny smith, under ripened grapes, lime, citrus peel.  I actually thought this beer would be more fruit forward since I drank it while it’s young – the best before date is a decade from now.

The mouthfeel on this was medium bodied, which is bigger than I was expecting, the carbonation was fine, and the ABV was big for a sour at 6.4%.

Overall:  This beer was incredible.  It’s likely the best sour I’ve had.  It was really hard to put this guy down because it was so balanced, funky, complex, and savory.  The likeness to plum skin is there and a little of the flesh comes through.  A+; hall of fame.  Purple suits this beer well.

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