Cantillon Kriek

It’s snowy outside, I’m home from work early as I left at lunchtime to avoid London’s broken trains, a case of beer has arrived at work containing the selection of beverages I chose for my step-brother’s Christmas present and the backup Christmas pressie beers were sitting on the side at home looking at me. What was I meant to do?

Cantillon Kriek

I quite like Cantillon, having already gushed about their gueuze on here and also (I now hazily recall) tried one of their other beers that also involved grapes after an Ealing beer festival a few years back, but haven’t got round to trying their kriek. Brewed in a similar manner to the rest of their beers in the proper Lambic fashion (left in vats without added yeast until the local yeasts jump in and make with the brewing magic) they also add fresh morello cherries. Like the gueuze this is not a sweet beer, morello are sour cherries after all, but you can definitely tell its fruity additions (and not only from the scary redness).

It smells quite fruity, with the normal krieky cherry undercurrent and the chunk of citrus that I’ve come to expect from Cantillon. When poured it’s not particularly fizzy, with a layer of sediment in the bottle to avoid, and it quickly calms down into something resembling flat, slightly cloudy cherryade. To taste it’s sour, not quite as sour as the gueuze but still quite mouth puckering, with a good taste of cherry, especially in the aftertaste. It’s very refreshing and probably more suited to a warm summer evening than a slightly pathetic London snowpocalypse, but is definitely going on my list to try and keep in the cupboard.

Reading the back of the bottle there is advice to “…drink it better in the year after purchase”. I was going to leave it in the cupboard for a year before noticing the Bottled On date – 24th October 2008. Hopefully that means I have drunk it at a correct time. That will not stop me buying more for some further ‘experimentation’.

Cantillon Kriek
From Brussels, Belgium. 5%
Limited availability as the brewery is quite small. As usual, mine came from Utobeer.

Cantillon Gueuze

I seem to have a habit of being introduced to beers by other people and this one is no different – Cantillon Gueuze.

Cantillon Gueuze

I had a large bottle of this brought back for me by former flatmates (and now landlords…) Dave’n’Let, who listed the brewery tour and Gueuze museum as one of the highlights of their relatively highlight free weekend break to Brussels. Despite not being the biggest of beer drinkers pretty much every one of the good things about their holiday involved beer in some way, which has moved Brussels slightly further up my ‘European Cities To Visit’ list.

Cantillon is a spontaneously fermented beer, as proper Lambics are, meaning that instead of using a nice yeast culture it just sits around in vats waiting to be infected by the wild yeasts of the area. The gueuze is made up of a blend of beers of various ages, combined and then left for a secondary fermentation in the bottle, giving quite a different taste.

Flavourwise it is sour. Very sour. The trademark of gueuzes is this citrusy sourness and this is an excellent example. It’s almost entirely unlike what you generally think of as a beer flavour, with a strong lemony citrus and no sweetness at all, but there is a hint of the white beer floweriness behind it all, reminding you that it really is a beer. It’s not as dry as some gueuzes I’ve had and while not sweet it does have lots of fruit, with lemon, sour orange and grapes all in the mix. It’s still my favourite gueuze and while there are less extreme examples that might be better to start on, it’s a good one for those wanting to see what gueuze is about.

Cantillon Gueuze
From Brussels, Belgium. 5%
Limited availability as the brewery is quite small – this one came from Utobeer in Borough Market