Brewery: Brasserie Cantillon, Brussels, Belgium
Rating: 4.5 Stars
After enjoying the Flat Earth wild ale, I knew I had to take the plunge and try a real Belgian lambic. Cantillon has brewed this beer the same way, in the same barrels, for over 100 years, and is a well-known name. I figured it was a good one to start with, though at $10.99, it was the most expensive 11 ounces I've purchased yet.
Again, this is a fruit beer, and one that is fermented with live bacteria instead of the more sanitary yeast. Kriek is cherry-flavored, but not like cherry Jolly Ranchers. The wild yeast gives it a very sour aroma and taste, and the aftertaste is almost pure vinegar. It's a beer that even after getting used to, you may find yourself still wanting to spit it out occasionally. Not meant for chugging.
I, for one, and I'm the one who counts, loved it. Its ruby red color is entirely unique, and if you were closed-minded about beer, you'd say it was rotten sparkling cherry cider. But it's not. It's beer, and that is the beauty of it. I've had enough porters, IPAs, lagers, stouts and ales for a while. Lambics are a style completely off the map in the American beer culture, and while they wouldn't be the best idea for a once-a-week change of pace, every now and then they might hit the spot.
The Cantillon website boasts that the Kriek "tastes delicious with a big slice of brown bread with white cheese, radishes, onions and chives." It's true, radishes, onions and chives might have strong enough flavor to wipe the dry vinegar aftertaste off the roof of your mouth, but the aftertaste was part of the experience for me. Maybe now that I've taken one straight I'll feel free to dabble in food pairings next time. Next time I'm willing to fork over 12 bucks for a tiny bottle of rotten cherry vinegar, that is.