#309 Rodenbach – Grand Cru

Rodenbach Grand CruName: Grand Cru
Brewery: Rodenbach (Palm) (Roeselare, Belgium)
Style: Sour Ale
ABV: 6%
Source: Galbraith’s Alehouse

There are beers make wonderful husbands, beers that are only good for one-night-stands, and then… Then there are sours.

A sour is the absolute worst kind of lover. They’re the ones that live in mysterious and far-flung places, that never email or remember your birthday, that eventually show up unannounced on your doorstep with stories about how they’ve been held hostage in North Korea for the past six months and that’s why they never answered your Skype calls.

And even though you swore you wouldn’t, you’ll be charmed by his fancy European accents and exotic musky perfume, and once again you’ll let a sour into your home and heart. You’ll fall head-over-heels, just like every other time, and when you wake up in the morning he’ll be gone.

Goddamn those beautiful bastards.

What I’m getting at (with this analogy that seems oddly revealing/specific but actually isn’t, no really), is that sours to me are the most elusive beers of all. Every time I have a really good one it blows my mind, and then I spend the next three months wondering where my next sip’s coming from.

As far as I know no NZ brewery has ever made a sour (see comments section for inevitable correction), or at least none are making them right now. They’re tricky bastards to brew, apparently, because the wild yeast and bacteria that’s needed can infect all the other beer in the brewery.

Barely anyone stocks them either, so when I start getting a hankering for that mouth-puckering thrill that only a sour can deliver, sucking a lemon is generally my only option.

Imagine my delight then, when I heard that one of those good-looking rogues was not only in town, but hanging out at my favorite bar.

It was everything I’d been longing for. The aroma was intensely vinegary, with oak and a light waft of fresh cherries. In the mouth there was some sweetness, which I need in a sour, less vinegar than on the nose and more fruit. Despite the sweetness it was still thrillingly tart, to the extent that the memory alone is causing a saliva flood in my mouth.

I would have loved to try this beer in a year or more’s time to see what age had done to the young fruit notes, but do you think the bastard stuck around?

He arrived at Galbraith’s on the Saturday and by Monday night he was gone – leaving me with nothing but his photograph and a lemon to suck.

Published in: on June 28, 2012 at 6:18 pm  Comments (3)  
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#240 Van Honsebrouck – St Louis Kriek

Name: St Louis Kriek
Brewery: Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck Ingelmunster, Belgium
Style: Lambic – Kriek
ABV: 4.5%
Source: Victoria Park New World

I spent my Easter the same way I’ve spent it for the last four or five years – drinking/eating too much and engaging in fierce competitions (Cricket, Pizza making, Charades, Scattegories, anything you can assign points to) with family at my Dad’s house in Greytown.

On the way out we stopped to stock up on beers at Wellington’s Thorndon New World. Would you believe I’ve never been there before? It’s incredible! I literally welled up a little bit, clutched my hand to my heart and staggered around the aisle for a few moments when I saw the selection.

In hindsight I feel like I could have perhaps made better choices. This Kriek for example, wasn’t really much chop. It was too sweet and had a fake cherry juice flavour rather than that real sour musty taste you usually get from Lambics. Granted it was kinda yum – but it didn’t feel like the real deal.

I also got a litre rigger of Sprig and Fern IPA, which I tipped down the sink after three sips. It was like chewing plants! Thankfully I had a Liberty C!tra on hand to wash the taste out.

And in case anyone cares (you know you do), I came second in the pizza competition with my Autumn-themed apple, gouda, bacon and sage and caramalised onion pizza. It was kinda like an apple tart – but better because it had bacon and cheese!*

*Recipe available on request in exchange for beer. 
Published in: on April 10, 2012 at 3:11 pm  Comments (4)  

#218 Lindemans – Framboise

Name Framboise
Brewery: Lindemans (St Pieters Leeuw-Vlezenbeek, Belgium)
Style: Lambic – Fruit
ABV: 2.5%
Source: The Beer Store

You know how some people think it’s not cool to like fruit beer because it’s all sweet and girly and goes against the Reinheitsgebot and might even be pink sometimes?

Well, screw those guys (I used to be one of them), because lots of fruit beer is really really delicious, including this one which tastes like liquid rasberry sorbet.

Sure, it’s very sweet. But it’s also tart and tangy (like real rasberries) with that signature musty earthiness that lambics have. It is by far the richest, fullest, most flavourful beer I have ever had at such a low ABV, which is neat because it means you can drink lots of it.

Except you couldn’t, unless you’re one of those people who’s constantly swigging soda all day. It’s just too sweet. I think it would be best served in a little crystal wine glass after Christmas dinner, or maybe even (like a rasberry sorbet) as a palate cleanser between meals.

However you do it, do it. Embrace the pink fruity deliciousness and hell – put the pretty bottle up on your wall afterwards for all your mates to see. Fruit beer rocks!

Published in: on March 19, 2012 at 3:08 pm  Comments (1)  

#76 Timmermans – Tradition Geuze Lambic

Name: Geuze
Brewery: Timmermans (Belgium)
Style: Geuze
ABV: 5%
Source: Regional Wines

OK. I really don’t have much time so I will try to get through this post without going off on any tangents about why I was drinking Geuze instead of something somehow rugby related, or how this is Dad’s favourite style of beer but that I shunned it for ages because I associated it in my mind with the Timmerman’s Peche which I always found way too sweet – but actually if I went back and drank that now I’d probably quite like it because I’m always changing my mind about everything and-

ANYWAY.

On Sunday I drank this Geuze – I need not explain why. It poured a deep golden colour, slightly hazy from sediment, with a decent white head. It smelled like apple cider (real cider, not that Strongbow crap that I used to drink in London sometimes), with a hint of vinegar.

The taste is mostly of apples – slightly sweet at first, then acidic. It’s quite woody too – oak barrels I suppose. There’s something else… something I can’t quite put my finger on… hay? horse? Something a little farmy anyway.

In the mouth it feels light, dry, and quite fizzy. It’s cleansing and crisp, with quite a long, sour finish.

Do I like it? Yes I do. I understand there are more interesting (and probably more challenging) Geuze’s out there – that this is perhaps a gateway Geuze – but they’re so damn hard to find that I don’t have any others to compare it with.

And that’s got me thinking… Dad has lots of apple trees… Maybe we’ll just have to make one?

Published in: on October 24, 2011 at 10:39 pm  Comments (4)  
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#40 Cantillon – Kriek

Cantillon KriekName: Kriek
Brewery: Cantillon (Brussels, Belgium)
Style: Lambic – Kriek
ABV: 5%
Source: Regional Wines (Wellington)

A few weeks ago I rang up mum in Wellington and asked her pick me up a Smokin’ Bishop from Regional Wines.

“And while you’re there,” I said, “could you get me a Russian River Consecration?”

I didn’t know then that I was asking mum to get me a $30 bottle of beer, so it’s probably just as well they didn’t have it. Staff member Kieran (who is Regional’s beer specialist) picked this one as an alternative, and also suggested a bunch of other beers for me to try. Tonight I came over to Waiheke (where mum has just moved) and finally got my hands on them. They all look awesome!

I know a few mad bastards who are into sour beers (including my dad who is a Geuze freak), so I was quite keen to try one for myself.  This one’s a lambic, a style which Google tells me is spontaneously fermented with  the wild yeast and bacteria that occurs in the southwest of Brussels, and this particular style – a Kriek –  is fermented with cherries.

It seemed appropriate that I should pop my “sour beer cherry” – so to speak – with a bottle that had both a cap and a cork on it. These things shouldn’t be rushed into, I suppose.

As you can see it poured a spectacular shade of cranberry, and had a girly marshmallow pink head.

The aroma was interesting – musty like an antique shop, with very light notes of tart cherry and no sign of sweetness. It actually reminded me heaps of the cider my dad makes.

The taste was… Incredible! My saliva glands  instantly exploded at the mouth-puckering sourness of it, which lasted for a moment before calming to a light acidity. Then there was the flavour and a slight hint of sweetness from the cherries, that same musty character, and a sour, dry finish. It was like no beer I’d ever had before, and if I’d tasted it blind I’m not sure I’d even know it was a beer.

I have no idea how the Cantillon Kriek compares with other sour beers, but it was an excellent introduction and I’m looking forward to drinking more. I’d still really like to try the Russian River Consecration and Supplication, so if anyone wants to buy me an early Christmas present you can get them here 😉

Almost as astonishing as this beer is the fact that Ireland just beat Australia in the rugby. Might have to be a Guinness tomorrow!

Published in: on September 17, 2011 at 11:27 pm  Comments (2)  
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