This beer was not very lambic like. While the fruit flavours did have a tartness to them, the overall beer experience was not in the same class as a Cantillon. The cherry really shines in the aroma, but not in the taste. A waste of money.
March 2009 Bottle Date; Sampled May 2009
This beer needs a vigorous pour to produce a two-finger thick, light tan colored head in my 25cl tulip glass. Despite this, the head is quite persistent and even leaves some spotty lacing on the sides of my glass. The beer is a red amber color that might look brown if the room wasn’t fully lit. When held up to the light the beer shows a lightly hazed, full copper tinged, amber color. The aroma is definitely tart with a well noticed lactic character. Other funky note of musty, damp cobweb-like character, some light earthy pepper, as well as some acetic acid notes that add a fruity vinegar like note. It took a while to realize what an unrecognizable note here in the nose was, but it is the crystal malt character that is so rarely evident, or even used in Sour beers; this has a musty caramelized character along with a touch of toasty grain and perhaps even some nutty malt notes. The malt is just a bit weird (definitely quite different than the malt noticeable in the Flemish takes on a soured beer), but light enough that it is not quite a distraction. As the beer warms more of the acetic acid is noticeable in the aroma.
The beer is nicely tart tasting; it is definitely lactic up front, but finishes with a biting sourness that is acetic in character. This vinegar note accentuates a grape-like fruitiness. There is a slickness to the texture that many a sour beer has, the carbonation provides a fizziness that nicely offsets this, but it is still not as drinkable as I in a Lambic (if not for the label though I wouldn’t even have this comparison in mind). There is a spiciness that is characteristic of oak and perhaps a touch of a tannic bite towards the finish that subtly influences the flavor profile. The general peppery spiciness is right behind the tart / sour flavors in its intensity. While the tart / sour is the leading note here it is not aggressive (assuming of course that you like a bit of acetic acid in your sours. This is definitely far more acetic than any modern Lambic producer would find acceptable though; this beer reminds me of more of the Flemish sours in that respect. The malt is again pretty noticeable here, though it is only lightly so; hints of toasted grain in the finish and a touch of caramelized crystal malt character in the middle are noticeable.
The beer ends up being quite clear as it warms and the chill haze disappears, this brings out a nice copper color to the beer; this last has me wondering what sort of Nut Brown ale was the base beer (perhaps the beer lost a lot of color during the extended “wild” fermentation). This beer has definitely been “mis-labeled” as a Lambic (even an interpretation of one is a stretch), in the sense that this has a lot more in common with Flemish Reds that are acetic and malty; I could perhaps understand this if the brewer chose to do this based on the perceived beer sophistication of their local clientele, but I still think it wouldn’t be the best thing to do, especially given the modern US beer climate. This beer is quite interesting, tasty even, but I am not sure I would want to finish an entire bottle by myself.
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