Sunday, October 25, 2009

Cantillon 50 Degrees North-4 Degrees East


This beer is named after the geographical location of the Cantillon brewery in the central of Brussels, Belgium. Cantillon is arguably the best traditional lambic brewer operating in the world today. Their history, tradition and brewing techniques all work in unison. This particular beer was aged in used cognac barrels from France that Cantillon acquired in 2005. The lambic sat in the barrels for 2 years. I was very excited to try this.....

Been waiting to crack this one. Bottled in 2007, probably the youngest Cantillon I've had. Cork pops and pours into my glass a brilliant sunshine yellow with a hint of orange and a small bubbly white head. Bubbles rise up. Aromas of sun dried grains bathed in a farmhouse funk. Light mixed fruit, lemon juice and oak barrel scents alongside a nice hit of cognac. A touch of acidity. It all comes together brilliantly with an elegance unlike many other lambics.



First sip brings a bright mix of sweet and tart flavors with some fruit and lemon zest. Brett and cheesy barnyard funk take hold alongside woody tannins. Flows down with a mellow kiss of cognac and a lightly puckering sourness on the finish. Dry overall with a great mix of fruit flavors and light vinegar acidity. Well balanced and utterly delicious.

Mouthfeel is light and smooth with great carbonation. It goes down smooth and being that it is not overly puckering or acidic makes it refreshing and easy to drink. I think the cognac sweetness really rounds it out nicely. Overall, I wish I had a case of this beer as it is worth every penny. The lambic masters at Cantillon have done it again.

Overall this earns a rating of Amazing from me. Top notch stuff!

Check out the whole world of Cantillon beers and tradition by surfing over to http://www.cantillon.be/br/3_1

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Drie Fonteinen Doesjel

Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen is a small Belgian brewer that has also mastered the art of lambic blending. They have utilized traditional brewing methods from the beginning and produce some of the most amazing lambics in production today. These sour, spontaneously fermented beers may come as a shock to the uninitiated but are extremely nuanced and utterly enjoyable.

This particular beer, per the label, is a blend of one, two and three year old lambic fermented and matured in oak casks by wild yeasts carried through the open air. During re-fermentation the younger yeasts have inexplicably gone dormant, leaving the original flavors of the lambic in their purest form. I'm about to open the bottle and try it from myself:



Bottled Feb 23, 2006

Pours into my glass a deep harvest orange with good clarity and as per the style no discernible head at all. Cork was quite a workout to get out. Aroma is big on the funk with barnyard and old oak all over the place. Mellow sweet crisp malt with sharp acidic tones. Vinegar mingles with light fruit scents. Bright and wild.

First sip brings big wood / oak tannins upfront. Hay and barnyard funk flowing around with lemon juice and puckering citric accents. Mild malt sweetness midway through with an acidic finish and lingering oak. Tartness wins in the end and develops more so as it warms.

Mouthfeel is smooth and crisp with just a mellow tingle of carbonation as it flows down. This "sleepy" lambic is pretty tasty and the only other beer I have to compare this to is the Cantillon Loerik I drank a few years ago. Overall, it's fun to drink a beer like this that shows off another aspect of brewing and the variations that can occur. I wonder what 10 or 20 years in the cellar might do to this!

Overall this garners a rating of Great from me.

Check out more of the world of Drie Fonteinen at http://www.3fonteinen.be/

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Haandbryggeriet Norwegian Wood


Here we have a beer brewed with traditional Norwegian brewing techniques. Hailing from Drammen, Norway this small brewery operates in their spare time and brews some very interesting and unique beers. This particular beer is made with smoked malt, munich malt, crystal and chocolate malt and spiced with juniper twigs and berries. We are lucky enough to be able to try their beers in the U.S. due to Shelton Brothers importers. I cracked a bottle not too long ago:

Batch #70. Brewed March '07

Pours into a Tripel Karmeliet chalice an extremely hazy opaque dark brown with three fingers of khaki foam on top that slowly falls. Aromas of smoked malt upfront reminiscent of a dying campfire. The meaty quality is there along with an underlying yeast and juniper spiciness. Very earthy overall.

First sip is robust smoky malts with toasted caramel and cocoa accents. Earthy yeast tones meet up with spicy juniper berry and pine flavors. Mellow sweetness throughout that ends with a spicy finish. Tastes authentic and has an old world feel to it. Tasty smoked ale.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and crisp. Solid spritzy carbonation. Goes down easy. Overall, I found this to be an interesting, tasty brew that I would have again!

Overall this one gets a rating of Great.

Check out the world of Haand Bryggeriet by surfing over to http://www.haandbryggeriet.net/index.html