Lambics are one of those beer styles you just have to learn to enjoy. I'm not sure how many people try one for the first time and immediately wonder where it has been all their life? It takes a little getting used to. I first encountered Cantillon in Rome and later Brussels. You can read my experience here.
Cantillon is the real thing. They have been brewing the same way, in the same little run down building for over 100 years.
At first my wife was very suspicious of a beer that was like vinegar to her. That changed, I'm not even sure when but somehow, she is now somewhat addicted. Every time I go near drinkstore, she demands Cantillon if they have any.
So, a few weeks ago I grabbed a few bottles but I also grabbed two others. I realized that the only Gueuze I have ever had was Cantillon, I've had other Krieks before, just not Gueuze.
I will spare you the description of the Cantillon Gueuze, you can read about it here.
Anyone who has been to Belgium or is in to Belgian beer should be familiar with Lindemans, at least to see. Their version of a gueuze is very different to what I'm used to. It starts off with the familiar tart and sour aroma of cantillon but far more fruity. On tasting, I was immediately hit with a mix of sweet and sour. It sort of reminded me of what I imagine a mix of golden syrup and vinegar might taste like. The sourness that's there is no where near as pronounced as cantillon. The result is an almost sour wine like flavour with the carbonation of champaign. It was interesting but it was a little too sweet for me. Still, it might be a good introduction to the wonders of the lambic world.
The Chapeau bottle looked cheap so it was either going to be a wonderful old school gueuze like cantillon, or a travesty. It turned out to be the latter. Of aroma, there was little, just a hint of fruit and a little sour hit. I tasted it and almost wished I hadn't. It was like someone combined a little vinegar with prune juice. I normally love prunishness in a beer but this was rather sickly. I forced myself to finish, just in case it got better but alas it stayed the same.
Now I had a problem because I had no cantillon to wash it down with.
How about some Irish cider then? I stopped drinking cider years ago and I only enjoy really dry ciders, the ones with little to no residual sweetness. Longueville House Cider is produced in Cork at the house of the same name. They also make apple brandy it would seem, something I have never had before. This is actually one of the best Irish ciders I have had, though there are a number that I haven't tried yet. Like I said, I'm not much of a cider drinker any more. I keep meaning to try more but I tend to be disappointed, not because the cider is bad, but because I just don't like sweet cider. Anyway, this one was lovely. It had a strong apple flavour as you might expect being a real cider. There was a little earthy funk, almost mushroom like, a slightly tart sourness which was very nice and a little residual sweetness. I would have preferred it to be a little drier but then, I think I'm a rarity when it comes to cider preferences so don't mind me.
Just a thought for my American readers. In many parts of the US you have a drink you call cider which is just apple juice. By apple juice, I simply mean it's made from apples that have been pressed or squeezed and nothing else. You differentiate by having Hard Cider, which is the alcoholic kind. I'm not sure why this is because to my knowledge, cider has been around for well over 2000 years and that's the alcoholic kind I'm talking about.
I suspect it must have happened quite recently in the US. I can easily imagine that it used to be simply apple juice until the mass produced, filtered, treated kind appeared. Apple juice might have become associated with stuff made from concentrate so to differentiate themselves, traditional juice makers, usually the orchards themselves started referring to it as cider. Sort of like Craft Beer is used to differentiate artisan brewing to the macro button pushing breweries that dominate these days.
In Europe and I believe most of the rest of the world, when we say cider, it is always the "hard" kind.