Archive for the 'Lambic' category
I’m obviously a bit out of practice, as can be derived from the complete lack of consistent reviews for the past several months. However, the combination of Dave’s comeback and a stellar beer are leading me to post a quick something regarding this exceptional lambic from Hanssens. I don’t drink a lot of lambics, simply due to the high price point of the good stuff. Even Lindeman’s, which is by many accounts a sellout amongst lambics, costs a pretty penny. So, to find an authentic and properly matured lambic from a brewery like Hanssens is, first of all, difficult to do. Secondly, it’ll probably be expensive. However, I was very pleased to see this bottle of the stuff down at Sam’s Blue Light for $8.95. Pretty expensive for a single beer. But, for a true Belgian Gueuze aged 3 years, it’s a pretty good bargain…
The beer pours a pretty dark golden color with just a hint of ruby red in the light. The head is rocky and stark white, bubbling up quickly, only to then settle to a thin film on the top of the beer. The aroma of this is quite sour, but certainly not overwhelming. The sourness is apparent in the nose, but doesn’t burn the nostrils, displaying a nice mellowness. In the mouth, the Hanssens is sharp, tart, and delicious. To some beer drinkers a gueuze like this is positively unappetizing. In fact, it took me several to begin to appreciate them. However, now that I’m over the hump, I find myself jonesing for the unique flavor of a gueuze every now and again. And, on a list of good examples of the variety, this would certainly be near the top. The tartness of this variety can be a bit overwhelming in a younger beer. However, here, the tartness makes you pucker a bit, but it is overall much mellower and flows along with some buttery hints. The evolution of the beer through the mouth is great, activating what seem to be very different portions of the tastebuds as it flows down the tongue, eventually leaving you with a lightly oily coating in the mouth and a SweeTart type flavor in the mouth.
The only bad thing about this beer is that there isn’t enough of it. Generally, I don’t wish to drink more than a glass of a gueuze lambic. However, this is so much more palatable and complex that I feel I could enjoy several of them. And, at 6% abv, that isn’t entirely out of the question. For even a novice trying to break into this variety, the Hanssens is highly recommended. Slightly expensive, but a great way to put a good face on the genre…
The Love Child was the one big bottle brew I bought from TJ’s. I didn’t read the back of the bottle to see what type of beer it is. I picked it up solely because of the overweight man wearing nothing more than a banana hammock, crew socks, some Dutch-style shoes, and a football helmet with no face mask. My ultimate goal in life is to look like this man and if I keep drinking the way I am now I guarantee I won’t have to wait long. Turns out this is a lambic ale, and given my lack of experience with this style there’s a chance this review may be way offline. In other words, if I give it bad marks drink it yourself because there’s a chance I am missing the intricacies that make a great lambic.
This beer is copper and very murky. I couldn’t see anything on the other side of this beer if my life depended on it. The smell is heavy with dark fruit, with raspberry taking center stage. The taste boasts much the same. The fruity flavors attack the tongue and the taste of alcohol rushes to the nasal cavity. According to the label this ale is aged for three months with the fruit that comprise its taste. I think I like the aftertaste more because the carbonation burn disappears leaving a fruitiness that isn’t abrasive. I will have to say that the coating left on the tongue is bitter but it isn’t overpowering. The raspberry taste morphs into cherries which is kinda cool. This is a burly, complex lambic and I can see how you could make a “love child” after consuming a couple bottles of this beer with your special lady friend. I like this beer more and more with each sip so I am going to have to recommend it, especially if you dig lambics. Even if you don’t, buy it for the picture on the front label!
Hey folks. I’m writing to you again from middle-Georgia, which is turning out to be the land of sampler packs for me. This is my third sampler I’ve found, which is amounting to a lot of work for me, your humble beer critic. However, when I was shopping on an Air Force base recently for booze, I couldn’t help but notice the latest Sam Adams sampler. And, as Sammy seems to be doing better and better by me with their recent selections, I couldn’t help but grab it. There are a few beers in this sampler that I’ve had before, so I know they’ll be good. However, this lambic is one I haven’t yet tried, and I’m excited to try Sam’s take on this risky variety.
The pour of this beer is a lightly rose colored golden hue with a persistent but thin white head. In the smell, you can definitely tell this is a lambic. There’s a nice wild sourness at play that is skillfully layered with a fruity cranberry aroma. And, that’s really about it – we don’t get too much malt here, and there is no hop presence, which is about run of the mill for a lambic. All around, it’s so-far-so-good. Now, the taste is what I was really curious about. The first sensation of this is fairly weak. In fact, it’s pretty much just wet with no predominant flavor. However, a few centimeters down the tongue we catch a tart sourness that is suddenly apparent. This tartness is rather strong and hides most other flavors. It takes a couple of seconds until the cranberry finally rears it’s head right at the back of the throat. At this time, both flavors coexist for a short time until the sourness begins to subside and the fruit takes center stage in the aftertaste. All in all, this isn’t a bad lambic, especially for an American-made version from a larger brewery. The sourness isn’t quite as ‘wild’ as you might get from a Belgian version. But, nevertheless, all the pieces are there for a great fruit lambic, and this is certainly something that I would be happy to drink again
With the weather warming up for the weekend, I thought writing about the “beer float” idea would be appropriate. This idea of a beer float (beer and ice cream) has probably been around for ages but it has recently come known to me from a news article and a sampling at a local grocery store. Though I was intrigued with the news article, the sampling at the grocery store sealed the deal. When my girlfriend’s eyes lit up after trying the sample, I knew a four pack of Young’s Double Chocolate Stout and a quart of French vanilla ice cream had just been added to the grocery list. Lets see if the “beer float” is better then “beer nog“.
The recipe I tried for the beer float is pretty straight forward. Add a few scoops of vanilla ice cream to a pint glass (or mug), pour Young’s Double Chocolate Stout over said ice cream, and serve. First without the ice cream the Young’s pours a dark black, with a small, dense layer of cream colored head on top. The smell is heavily chocolate with some burnt undertones. The taste is just like the smell, heavy with chocolate with some lingering burnt taste at the back of the mouth. One surprising thing about the drink was its mouth feel. I was expecting a fuller/heavier mouth feel, with its dark body and dense head, not the medium one I encountered. None-the-less, it went down smooth, and I would have no problem drinking the beer again.
Next was trying the beer with the French vanilla ice cream. The beer and ice cream swirled together to make a very interesting looking concoction. The taste was still heavy on the chocolate but the burnt aspect disappeared and was replaced with the vanilla falvoring of the ice cream. My girlfriend thought the ice cream enhanced the flavoring of the chocolate to be even more noticable, she was quite pleased with this. The biggest change between the straight beer and beer float, was the mouth feel. As one would expect the ice cream made the drink much heavier, easily coating the inside of my mouth. This allowed the chocolate and vanilla tastes to linger in my mouth for a good few seconds after each sip. One of these chocolate vanilla beer floats was quite filling and there was no need (nor could I imagine) having a second one in one sitting.
With the chocolate vanilla float being a success I decided to try my hand at a Lindemans Framboise Lambic (Ben’s review) and vanilla float (as mentioned in the article). I personally was not as enamoured with this combination as with the chocolate/ vanilla one. Though I don’t mind the sweet tartness of the Framboise at times, it was a little too much for me. Maybe the float needed more ice cream and less beer, or a different type of vanilla ice cream (the article used malted vanilla), I’m not really sure. A great aspect of the beer float however, is how easy it is to experiment with (dropping some ice cream in a glass and pouring beer over it does not take all that much time).
Though the chocolate/vanilla beer float was more of a success, I was still pleased with both out comes. The beer float idea definitely gets my stamp of approval. They are easy to make, they can taste good, and they make a rather impressive looking dessert (for all those dinner guests you want to impress). Feel free to post any great beer float recipes in the comments. Happy experimenting.
Okay – before you even talk about this beer, you need to understand that a true Lambic can only be made in a couple of places on Earth – the Lambic region of Belgium being one of those. These guys boil grains and then leave open vats full of wort sitting in the air so that the yeasts that exist wild in the air will naturally fall into the wort and ferment. It’s like a damn wonder of nature. That being said, this beer is very interesting. It pours a nice dark golden, and smells a sort of salty pungent. The flavor is unlike any beer. It has a silky texture and a very sour flavor with a slightly syrupy finish. The aftertaste sticks with a sour coating throughout the mouth. While this isn’t a daily drinker at all, I can see the appeal, and I might be tempted to try other varieties
Our first tasting today, a framboise lambic from Lindeman’s, was largely a success. Made from a wheat base, and aged in Spanish oak barrels residing in Belgium, the story behind the beer is almost as compelling as the beer’s effect on the palate. The complex fruity and refreshing flavor was an excellent opening act for our tasting.
I must confess – I have tasted very few ‘true’ lambics. I’ve been around the block with all the fruity permutations from the folks at Lindeman’s, and I’ve even tasted a couple of American varieties that were rather tasty. But, the fact of the matter is that I have rarely strayed from the fruity varieties into the sour, wild goodness that purists would consider a true lambic. Now, this is an issue that I truly want to remedy. However, there are a few things in the way – One is the fact that these lambics are always going to be imports, and most have been aged for quite some time. Therefore, they can be quite pricey. Another issue is the fact that, compared to many other beers, these are still quite a challenge for me, taste-wise. Much like the way that I at first didn’t enjoy a good IPA, but would prefer to reach for a lighter wheat beer, due to my unchallenged palate – Now, I often don’t want to reach for a Lambic, because I know that, in the short-term, I would rather enjoy something I already appreciate (like a good IPA). Regardless, this is a hole in my beer repertoire, and so I’m going to start making efforts towards remedying it – starting tonight.
This lambic, imported from Belgium, is the real deal – large wooden vats of wort are magically inoculated with wild yeast in the north-Belgian air, thus producing a beverage that must have been conceived by the gods, as it was initially created solely by accident and God’s grace in the form of airborn yeast. After this process, this Lambic is matured for over three years before being sent into my beer fridge. The pour of this beer is a rich clear golden with a very thin but long-lasting head consisting of tiny white bubbles. The aroma of this is shockingly sour and really smacks you in the face. It is quite pungent and gives the nasal passage quite a burn. In the mouth, the beer is very flavorful, but VERY sour. The first sensation is a rich and subtle sourness on the tip of the tongue that is slightly burning. As the beer moves down the tongue, the sourness becomes much more pronounced and a bit cloying, making me involuntarily pucker up. There is also a background sweetness that you catch if you’re really paying attention, but it’s easy to lose in the sourness. As the beer exits the mouth, the sourness retreats mildly, leaving you with a strong sweet and tart aftertaste that sticks around for quite a while. I certainly believe that this is an acquired taste, and I can certainly see how I might acquire it. However, even if you don’t care for the taste, this is a very interesting drink because it just tastes so ‘wild’. Akin to the haphazard and almost feral process by which Lambic is created in what can’t really be considered controlled or often hygienic circumstances, this beer just tastes like something that would come from a great wooden cask surrounded by spider webs in a Belgian cellar. It’s almost like an educational and transporting experience just to drink. I would recommend trying a brew such as this just to understand the limits of what a beer can be. And, hopefully, as I try more varieties of lambic, I’ll be able to give a legitimate review on a brand and not just a style in the future.