Review #400! I bought a bottle of this to bring home from Mikkeller Bar in Copenhagen, Denmark for my wife and I to share. This beer was very nice. It cost an arm and a leg but I bought it because I wanted to try the one of the top representatives of the Lambic style, and because I knew my wife would enjoy this because of the fruitiness and sour flavors. While lambics are NOT my favorite style, I thought this one was pretty great. While I was expecting blueberry as the dominant flavor, it was more of a mixed berry flavor than any one berry flavor in particular. The beer smelled funky with hints of berry, wood, and horse blanket. The sourness was from the brettanomyces - it was really sour. The color was amazing - a red plum hue, however, almost opaque. In the end, I'll never have this beer again, despite being rare, it is quite expensive and way too difficult to get to the States. All in all, a superb beer made better by the fact I was able to share it with my wife.
Vintage 2005; Sampled May 2008
Rating: 4.1 /9/8/8/8/9
A vigorous pour produces a very, large bubble consistency, initially fat-one-finger thick, pale off white colored head. The beer is a ruddy, light plum color and shows a lightly hazy, pink-tinged, copper color when held up to the light. The aroma is quite tart, with lactic notes up front and then butyric acid notes of Brett induced funk as a backdrop. A fruit skin aromatic note seems just perceptible, with maybe some imagined berry notes. Funk driven aromas of urea, funky-phenolics, damp horse blanket, some musty notes as well as some fruit-like acidity. I definitely think that the blueberry still contributes to the nose, it is quite soft, and I wouldn't have noticed it if I didn't notice this was a blue-berry beer, but it definitely adds something.
Bracingly tart as expected from a Cantillon product. As the head suggested this is only lightly carbonated, perhaps a touch more than a cask conditioned, real ale; the carbonation adds a hint of liveliness and more a texture than anything. The beer finishes with a touch of medicinal blue-berry character, though really the fruit character adds a slight roundness to the flavor that mellows the bracing sourness just a touch through the middle and finish of each sip. The substantial tartness reminds me a bit of sour-grapefruit, though the sourness is by and large contributed by lactic acid. Quite light, and if it wasn't so acidic it would be down right quaffable; this is even on the light side for a Lambic as it doesn't have an overly tannic structure to it that many have.
As the beer warms up the soft, non-specific, fruitiness becomes more noticeable. It really helps to soften the acidity, though to be honest for a sour beer lover the acidity was not too much to begin with. I could see many people having a hard time finishing a beer this sour. Fairly funky, though not over the top like the sourness. This has the requisite farmyard funk, some sweaty blanket notes and some wild mushroom character that provides a complexity boost behind the dominant sourness.
I believe this actually is a bit more sour than the Vintage 2007 version, but it also has less blueberry character, which makes the sourness a bit more pronounced. And this is most definitely on the hard side for a Lambic and even for a Cantillon; luckily I really find a bracing acidity quite nice, despite that fact that I can feel a slight burn in my stomach. I wonder how much this has changed since being bottled? I'll never know, but I suspect the blueberry was just a bit more noticeable. Very nice, I haven't had a hard Lambic in a while & this one definitely fit the bill and tickled my fancy.
Vintage 2007; Sampled April 2008
Pours with a frothy, initially two-finger thick, purple-pink stained tan colored head. The beer is a deep purple color, but shows a deeply hazy, plum-red color when held up to the light. As I was pouring this beer a scent of blueberries was noticeable. A closer inspection is much more accented towards the funky Lambic notes; lots of funky, phenolic, bandaid like aromatics, a definite acidity, ample butyric acid notes, musty cotton balls and cured leather. Behind all of this is a subtle, yet zesty, berry character that is distinctly of sweet-ripe blueberries; the blueberry notes are almost more noticeable in the nose when you are not trying.
Bracingly tart, with a fantastic sourness that almost causes me to pucker. I would swear that the ample sourness is magnified by tart fruit character, though it is mostly lactic in make up. The finish has a mouth-coating tannic character to it that is deeply stained with berry skin flavors. The flavor of this beer is not quite as funky or phenolic as the nose suggested, but this is definitely on the funky side of the spectrum with light bandaid phenolics and moldy cotton ball notes. The tannins, fruit and oak contribute a nice heft to the body of this brew though a zippy carbonation keeps this on the airy / light side; overall this is a beer to be quaffed in quantity, just like a Lambic should be.
As the beer warms up it picks up a bit more fullness and the acidity seems to mellow just a touch, becoming a bit more fruit accented, though still bracingly dry and tart. I really like the tannic structure that this beer has, it gives it a texture that is quite akin to the feeling while drinking black tea; this somehow provides some balance to this beer. My second pour seems to get just a touch of ripe-berry character to it, just enough to add an ephemeral touch of sweet fruit character without actually adding any sweetness. This is just getting more and more drinkable, it didn’t start out a slouch either, and I am suddenly left wondering what happened to my 750ml bottle & asking myself why I don’t have more to drink right now.
Wow, this is supposed to be the less tart / funky of the two vintages; I can’t imagine (or is it can’t wait) the 2005 vintage I have waiting for me being more sour than this. This is just quite funky right now, this definitely leans towards the hard side & I wonder how much of this has developed since bottling; especially since I see this as being less tart and more fruity than the 2005. This is fairly fruity, but certainly not in a dominant fashion (even by authentic Lambic standards), the fruit seems to more contribute to the tartness and tannic qualities of this beer rather than the ripe berry notes one might expect in a beer described as fruity. After having said all that, this is just a fantastic beer, as someone who really likes funky, sour beers and my fruit to be a supporting player, well this just hits the spot quite well.
Pours out in a hazy deep red colour with purple nuances topped with a large white foam. fresh acidic aroma of wood and lemon-peels with small hints of blueberries. Acidic flavour of grapefruit and wood with just a small hint of sour raspberries and blueberry skin. Refreshing and tart finish of wood and blueberry stars. Damn good as only a Cantillon can be.
I’ve waited the longest time to rate this beer - first time I tried it was in January 2006 - thank Jeppe, but now the beer has been released and the occasion is right. I try the 2005 and 2007 vintages side by side.
First impression is how much color it has lost from 2005 till now. The 2005 version is pinkish-orange with a slight haze and next to no head (2), while the 2007 is deep red and very hazy wiht a huge pinkish head (4). The aroma is much more alike for the two vintages; it is acidic with notes of brettanomyces, wood, stables, and berries, I find the aroma of the 2007 vintage a bit more powerful, but this is probably because of the head retention. The flavor is somewhat different - I find the biggest difference in the tartness, where the 2005 vintage is way tarter than the 2007 - and much tarter than I remember my sample from January 2006, but besides the tartness it has notes of berries - can’t really tell that it is blueberries though, wood, vinegar, hay, and barnyard - in the 2005 also some notes of fruit vinegar and stronger in the wood. I think all in all I prefer the 2007 slightly over the 2005.
(rating #3000, 375ml big thanks to Jeppe for this one!). Nice bloodred colour without any bigger head. Aroma is very sour fruits, but not as much blueberries in this one as the 750ml Jeppe shared at Weekend of Spontaneous Fermentation (which he said wasn't rateable). Flavour is smooth sourness along with a lot of berryishness (but I couldn't make out the blueberries...). Almost like more red berries... Still a pleasant thing though!
Another big thanks to Chris Q. (cquiroga) for sampling this at the Woodshop II tasting.
Wow. Great reddish blue color, with an excellent flavor of blueberries. the balance between the fruit’s sweetness and the tartness of the lambic is perfect. I would love to get a full bottle of this.
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