Friday, 5 August 2011

Like sucking lemons for the first time - The Session

This months session is hosted by Jon Abernathy, author of the brewsite. The topic of the month is Sour Beers, a topic close to my heart. Jon mentions that the topic has never been covered on a Session, that may be true but I know TheBeerNut did do a session post covering it.

In late 2009, just over 2 years ago, I went to Rome. It was there of all places that I was first introduced to Cantillon. You can read my account of that experience here.

Picture the scene, I am in one of the few places in Rome that serves good beer. I am with my wife and some of her family, including my beer loving, home brewing (just like me) Brother in law. We are both in to our American hop bombs. I order a beer that turns out not to be available just now due to a keg change so I decided to try a kriek instead. This was from the Cantillon brewery in which my friend and fellow beer writer TheBeerNut had visited previously. Imagine my surprise when I tasted it. It was akin to when you are a child and you suck your first lemon, like being slapped in the face with a wet fish (I can only assume as I have never had this happen).
My first reaction was one of horror, I had a pint of this stuff to get through. I let everyone else taste it and no one could stomach it, not even by Brother in law. I was confused, thinking it possibly infected as it certainly had the qualities I have heard described from home brewers who were unlucky.
In fact it was infected, but done so on purpose as I now know. The lambic grew on me in Rome but I was still a little sceptical.

My second experience came at the Cantillon brewery itself just a few months after Rome. That was a real eye opener and I now enjoyed the beers I had there. My one regret is that I could not stay longer due to my wife not feeling well. This was made worse in that I had, on purpose, avoided drinking any lambics in Belgium as I knew I was going to Cantillon. Most other lambics were the sweeter kind like Floris Kriek Boon but I still avoided them and then I find I can't sit for hours drinking them at the brewery. Ah well, I will visit Belgium again.

I have in fact made my own sour beer, that was of course an accident. A little Brett (I believe) got in to a wheat beer I made and turned it in to, what I can only liken to Berlinerweisse in my head, since I have never actually had it. This started out a little hard to drink but after a few weeks it mellowed out and was very pleasant. Even my wife loved it in the end.

These days I can actually get Cantillon beers at home in Ireland. I love them and sour beers as a rule. On some of my brewery trips in the US, the sour beers were the ones that stood out as favourites even above the hop bombs.

In honour of the subject, I have cracked open my last bottle of Cantillon Geuze. Lovely stuff but I need to buy more now. Don't worry, the article may be posted on Friday morning but it is Wednesday evening at the time of writing.

Just a quick reminder that I myself will be hosting the session in two months time. I am hoping for some interesting articles on the topic of Thanks to the big boys. I will talk more about that closer to the time.


  1. I don't think there's any lambic in the Floris range: they're all just straight wheat beers. Mort Subite and Bellevue are the sweeter, mass-produced lambics. Mort Subite was my introduction to the style, given to me as a dare by my wife and I've been hooked ever since.

  2. Actually my mistake, I was thinking Kriek Boon and Floris popped in to my head for some reason. Amending my post.