Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Lambic ~ Cantillion Iris

We tried this just before we started Wine Tasting. Since neither of us drink wine, we thought we'd practice on beer. Something Jon knows very well and I've been getting more experienced with.

I don't really like beer. I do like the fruity lambics... Lindemans Framboise is my favorite. It's completely unbeer-like.

Since in PA there are so many rules & regulations regarding alcohol sales, when you do find cool beers, they cost a fortune. At least WAY more than in MA, which is how I view them. So every time I go visit my family in MA, I come back with few single beers, that I think Jon will like. Even though I don't like beer, I'm pretty good at picking them out, just from hanging out with him.

Jon pulled out a Lambic that I picked up for him last time I was in MA. It was a 2005 Cantillon Iris. It was just a straight up lambic. I had never tried one before. (How different can it be from Framboise?) But the shelf tag went on and on about it being an award winning Lambic... so into the cart it went.

This is from the importer:
Iris is made in the style of lambic – fermented by wild yeasts and aged in oak wine casks at the brewery – but with a couple of big differences. First, it is made entirely from malted barley, whereas traditional lambic uses one third unmalted wheat. In addition, the brewery has used fresh Hallertau hops in the boil and for dry-hopping the Iris. (Traditional lambic calls for hops that have been aged for several years, which impart virtually no hop flavor to the finished product.)

Iris is a rare and unusual treat to thrill the connoisseur of traditional Belgian beers – absolutely, utterly unique.

From the brewer:
The Cantillon brewery is closely linked to Brussels, a city which has the iris as its symbol. As the name indicates, the "marsh iris" is a plant growing in humid areas. The historical center of Brussels is built on swamps where this flower used to grow abundantly.

Artist : Julie Van Roy, 1998

In 1998, the Brussels Museum of the Gueuze celebrated its 20th anniversary. The Cantillon brewery decided to make a new spontaneous fermentation beer for this occasion, named after this symbolic flower.

It is a completely original beer which, contrary to the other products of the Brewery, is not brewed with 35% of wheat. The Iris, which is only made with malt of the pale ale type (giving a more amber colour to the beer) conserves the typical flavour of the spontaneous fermentation, the complex aromas and the vinous taste.

The hopping is different too. Lambic is made with 100% dried hops, for the Iris we use 50% of dried hops and 50% of fresh hops. The latter cause a superb acidity, the former, due to their tannins, enable to conserve the beer while preserving all its qualities.

After two years in the barrel, the Iris undergoes a second fresh hopping two weeks before the bottling. A linen bag, filled with hops, is soaked in the beer for two weeks. This technique, called "cold hopping", gives the beer a more intense savour and makes the smell and the taste more bitter.

Iris is brewed only once every season and all the beers come from the same brewing. This is why the beer is dated. The second fermentation is obtained by adding liquor.

Although it is a spontaneous fermentation beer, the Iris is very different from the Lambic. The amber colour and the bitter and slightly caramelized taste make it a complex beer.

Sounds good doesn't it?



My review:
Color ~ Dark amber/orangy color - pretty =)
Head ~ small nice light head
Lacing ~ a bit of lacing on the glass
Smell ~ ummm smells like beer (I say that to Jon all the time!) Ok... but after really smelling it... it's pretty funky... and a little citrusy and maybe a little spicy...
Flavor ~ Usually I say, tastes like beer... but not this time. I have to say, this lambic instantly and completely assaulted my mouth. The first flavors/tastes were overwhelmingly sour vinegary bitter orange. I couldn't get past that. I swallowed it and it immediately felt like someone punched me in the stomach. Also, my tongue felt very pruned.

I thought, crap... I got a bad bottle... we went upstairs to read reviews online....

You can read reviews here.

I guess it's supposed to be funky... stinky cheese rind, wet dog, funky barnyard, dirty socks... those are actual (good??) reviews! (why do people really want to drink this???)

So Jon & I were busy trying to name all of the funky flavors in this bitter nasty brew. The next day, I realized that he'd never actually said if liked it. He likes things that I find completely revolting, so I really had no idea.

He said that he didn't like it. It was a challenge to drink or to find any redeeming qualities about it.

So there you have it! If you like SOUR, bitter, funky barnyard in your brew, this Lambic is for you!


Maria said...

Great review!

Bob said...

Hm, well I'm all set with a damp barnyard in my mouth. Great review though. ;)

Tangled Noodle said...

I think I'll stick to Lindeman's (Peche/Peach is my favorite)! Thanks for sacrificing your tastebuds for this review!

Spryte said...

It was funny, I was reading all of your comments to Jon and at the same time we both said how awful that was!