Had this on-tap at Sheffield's sour night. Served in a Cantillon mini-tulip glass.
A - Judging by the other reviews it sounds as if the bottles have significantly more carbonation. The pour I got looked like it was a cask ale - just a bunch of big bubbles that stuck around for a while. The color was really nice - mostly transparent purple-red.
S - Sour cherry, Merlot, tart pink lady apples, sour green grapes, gooseberries, and hints of wood, funk, and musty barn. The smell is incredibly potent too.
T - The taste smooths out a lot of red wine flavor, and pushes the sour apple and cherry flavors up to the front. There's also a restrained sour grape-skin aftertaste. I feel like I don't have the necessary descriptors for a brew like this one, and that red wine loves would find all kinds of interesting things to say. It was definitely interesting and delicious though.
M - Dry finish - a bit of cotton mouth starts to happen. It's very smooth and thin-bodied, but doesn't come off as watery. The negligible carbonation is unfortunate, because because it starts to come off a syrup-like after a while and makes me feel like I want to brush my teeth.
D - Mild aftertaste, low ABV, cask-style texture. The only thing that keeps this from a perfect score is the outrageous price. It tastes wonderful, but at $40/bottle in Chicago it's too expensive to have regularly. Hopefully it pops up on-tap a little more often (albeit slightly more carbonated).
Served In: Tulip
Vintage Bottled 2002, Sampled November 24, 2003.
It is with some trepidation that I open this bottle. When I peeled off the foil covering the top of the bottle, the cap was badly rusted and there were streaks of crusted beer running down the neck, as well as a small amount of fresh beer leaking from the cap. Since I was not going to get another one of these in the foreseeable future I let it settle down in my dedicated beer cooler.
There is perhaps a hint of a hiss as I pop the cap 750ml bottle; hopefully this beer is not too far gone. The cork feels very moist and is obviously fully penetrated from the beer, a slight acetic smell emanates from the cork. Well I go for the cork pull. The cork pops out, and yes, there is some carbonation here. Perhaps it won’t be as bad as I thought.
I pour the beer and low and behold it is very well carbonated. The carbonation produces a couple of inch thick pink to light purple colored head, which, lasts longer than I was expecting. The beer itself is a reddish/ light purple color, quite hazy as well. There is a definite acidic aroma that emanates from my glass. It is sour, though not intensely so.
As I take my first sip I note that there seems to be a large amount of body to this bone dry Lambic. I wonder if the grapes have added some structure, as I was expecting it to be quite thin. The grape character is certainly here, it is under the sourness, there is a bit of tannin here from the grapes. There are some berry notes, which compliment the lemony acidity, it sort of underscores & picks the beer up. As I peel the layers of this beer away I note that the berry–grape like flavor is definitely here.
As this beer warms slightly the wine grapes really start to pick up, especially in the finish. I get an austere vinous slightly tannic ending. The Lambic sourness definitely dominates, but this beer is infinitely better and more complex than the Cantillon Vigneronne. The typical suite of Lambic flavors are here; leathery, musty, and sour. Aromas of cat piss, musty cellar, citrus, vinegar, it is just wonderful to sniff away at. I must get more of this.
A Lambic on its own, when made properly, is incredibly complex. The Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and the Cabernet Merlot grapes just bring this to a whole other plane of existence. This has got it all, and the grapes did not thin out the body of the Lambic like the Muscat grapes did to the Vigneronne. This beer has convinced me to brew a grape-Lambic, perhaps a syrah.
Well I just finished my first glass of this wonderful beer; luckily I still have a second one yet to savor. In my second glass the sour aroma has receded a bit. The Brett character has become a much more noticeable, accompanied by some enteric notes as well. The aroma is just wonderfully complex; I could just smell this beer forever. So, I take an extended moment to do just that… which leads to some ruminations on my part. How can something that is described in such negative terms (enteric, sweaty – leathery – horse blanket, vinegar, barnyard, etc.) be so wonderfully enticing? Well I don’t know, but I truly love it. The taste is again sour up front, but the body and finish of this beer is where the grape character shines. Don’t get me wrong, don’t read too much into my description, this is by no means a wine, definitely a beer, definitely a Lambic, but the marriage of wine and beer is pure genius in the form of Lambic. The complexity here, I never would have guessed that grapes could add so much to the complexity of a traditional Lambic product. Unlike most fruit Lambics (including many that I really enjoy, even most Cantillon products) the grapes take nothing away from the Lambic character, they only add a whole other dimension that intertwines and picks up the character of this Lambic.
No one else should try this beer; I sincerely believe that that it is all meant for me. No one else will be able to appreciate the stunning complexity and subtlety that is this beer. After reading this I am sure that anyone else trying this will be let down, so don’t get it, seriously, I’ve got dibs on the rest.
On a serious note, I really would not recommend anything less than an 8 oz serving of this (and a full 12oz would be adequate, but a 750 would be much better). This beer is just far to complex and needs, nay requires, deep contemplation and time to savor and explore this nectar. Please deeply explore this beer if you get a chance, it is well worth it.
Stunning, contemplative, world class; these are all words that just do not do justice to this beer. Please Jean-Pierre, make this a regular beer in your line-up.
Served In: Pint Glass
A: Very attractive raspberry tomato juice color and extremely cloudy. A thin white head was conjured when poured but fell instantly. A spin of the glass released some carbonation.
S: Classic cantillion aroma. Sprickly oak, ascorbic acid, sulfer and vitamin B
T: Begins sour and tangy. Lots of vitamin B and sulfery grape juice before the swallow. Most of the action of this beer happens after the swallow. After the swallow, strong limestone mineral aspects are on the forefront before the sweetness moves in. The sweetness is divine…the grapes add an absolutely stellar arrangement of flavors in the center of the tongue. The play between the tang, sour, grape skin and mineral is really well done. Finishes refreshingly dry with just the perfect of sweetness for balance.
M: Medium body, thick and soft.
D: Boy oh boy, what a great beer. One of my favorite lambics for sure.
Served In: Tulip
Vintage 2006 according to the cork.
A - Pours the color of raspberry juice. A light violet color that has a haze to it. Starts with a fizzy, vivid pink head that is about 2 inches on the pour, but quickly dissappears, leaving not even a bubble on the surface.
S - Big tart nose. Lightly acidic with grapes shining through. Fruity and fresh. Superb smell that isn't over the top.
T - Starts off sweet and fruity with loads of big grape flavors. Red wine comes in with a dryness that is very nice. Even though I know there are no fruits added here, the grapes seem to lend some raspberry and currants. About midway though, the tartness comes in. It isn't overpowering, but nice and pleasant. No pucker going on here. Slightly sour, I get a bit of lymon towards the end. Finishes dry with no aftertaste.
M - Medium to light bodied. Dry feel to it. Carbonation is low, but as it should be for the style.
D - This is a remarkably drinkable beer. Many lambics lend themselves to being big time sippers, but I find myself wanting to gulp this one. Great balance of flavor and tartness. Thanks a ton John!
Price: $34.99 Served In: Pint Glass
Capped and corked 750, cork dated 2003 - This is my 3rd bottle of this stuff that I've been able to enjoy. The first 2 bottles were dispersed during a couple of parties I had, one of which a certain few special BA's were there for and coaxed me to open one up.
This one was shared with just a few friends and I was finally able to sit and write my review notes.
Appearance is of a dark cranberry juice mixed with a splash of grape juice. Has some lively carbonation lineage along the sides. Crunchy threaded bubbles of foam decorate the top in a dusty pinkish white. Very active and popping and light amounts of lacing in thin strings. Shrinks down fairly fast as its surface smoothes out some then to a nothing-like misty haze on top and a thin collaring.
Outstandingly strong aroma, which is nothing out of the ordinary for Cantillon. Lots of brisk and lively sour-tartness fully dancing amoung a floor of acidic fibers. Whole mustard seeds, sharp white cheese, dirty barn floor hay, and vinegar all add to a vineous strength of sour stuff tickling the nose. Like a red wine on lambic steroids.
Taste is no different. Tons of tickling sour-tart-acidic stuff. Vineous vinegars, layers of highly sour bread grains, old cheese, puckering sugars, and lambic yeast all make for a big effect of smooth and delicate dryness. Each sip brings another layer of dryness after the tart stuff clears a path. Not as funky as the smell eludes too. What I found unique and mcuh more to my liking about this compared to other Cantillon's I've had is that this was much more easier on the palate to control. It reminded me of a Saison with a kick of extra sour dough breads, yeast, and an addition of grapes.
Feathery medium/heavy dryness and tart supplied, multi-layered, acidicness keep this sucker pretty tongue tingly and cheek-scraped dry. One of the things I couldn't quite get used to was its overall dryness. The sour stuff leads right into it and it takes every corpuscle in your mouth prisoner as it ghostly leaves all sorts of weird cottony-tart left overs. Again, like a grapey saison.
Drinkability is OK, takes a good while to get used to. It has a nice saison quality to it that I tend to like over the other true lambics that Cantillon is known for. Think of it as a vinegar spiked red wine blended with a saison.
Price: $30.00 Served In: Pint Glass
Had this beer on my honeymoon in Belgium at Delirium Cafe and loved it.
This bottle comes from my buddy jeffkrenner, thanks bro!
Served at cellar temp and poured into my Triple Karmeliet glass.
Appearance is good. Cranberry juice colored brew taht started off with a big soapy head off of the aggressive pour then quietly thinned out to nothing. Carbonation is evident yet not strong.
Smell is very good. Lemony, sour, tart funk. Fruit sweetness is there yet subtle and in control with the wild yeast and juicy lemon taking the front.
Taste is exceptional. Tart unripe light fruit with a fantastic subtle sweetness. Fruit is much more pronounced in the flavor compared to the smell yet is beautifully balanced by the tart funk. Oak is very big in the finish. Large flavor here without being over the top in any one department. Extremely balanced between tart and fruit. Crafted exceptionally well.
Mouthfeel is exceptional. Starts off juicy and finishes with the perfect level of dryness. The bottle i had in Belgium was more fruity than this but i seem to prefer the dryness of this one.
Drinkability is exceptional. Give me more is the only thing I'm thinking as this bottles dies.
Overall: One of, if not the best, lambic beer I've ever drank. Hefty price tag but well worth it every once in a while.
Served In: Pint Glass
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