Atlanta has somehow become a craft beer mecca with some of the greatest beer bars in the world. This is a tribute to the beers and the bars.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sour beers, part 2

Here are a couple of traditional lambics, a couple of Flemish sours, and a wildcard from Hitachino.

Vichtenaar: Flemish sour.  Balanced sour and malty sweetness, slight anise, caramel, medicinal, only
very mildly acetic.  Not quite as rich as Duchesse de Bourgogne, but also thankfully lacking the cloying syrupy sweetness.  I think this would be a good introduction to Flemish sours, partly because it's not the most sour and partly because you can get it in small, cheap bottles (around $3.50 at Green's).

Panil Barriquée: I had high hopes for this one.  I think that the greatest beer I've had was the Panil Bariquee Riserva, which starts the same as this but spends 15 months in a cognac barrel instead of the 3 that this one gets.  That led to an almost impossible rich and complex sour beer.  This one can't quite match, but is still good. Though it's Italian, Panil Barriquée is actually the only traditionally produced Flemish sour currently made.  Flavors were grape, almost red wine, faint apple, some sweetness and slight caramel without being cloying, lactic sourness, and unfortunately not nearly the amount of acetic sourness as the riserva.  It was a little thin but easy to drink.  This doesn't come close to the riserva, but I think it's quite a bit better than Duchesse. 

Cantillon 1900 Grand Cru: Just about everything that's called a lambic isn't.  They're either refermented with fruit to make a kriek (cherry), framboise (raspberry), peche (peach), etc., or a gueze, which is a blend of different aged lambics.  The Cantillon 1900 Grand Cru is the only pure, unblended lambic available in the US.  A pure lambic is flat.  This one is lemony and intensely sour.  There's a lot going on, but it's hard to pick out many distinct flavors.  Between the flatness and intense tartness I can't really recommend it to people who don't already drink sour beers, but I enjoyed it and any real beer drinker owes it to themself to drink the only real lambic available.  

Cantillon Gueze: A gueze is a blend of various age lambics that have become carbonated in the bottle.  This lambic tasted a little lemon, apple, apricot, and wet hay.  It was pretty sour but a decent Brett funk and slight vinegar.  This is cheaper than the Grand Cru, but much more balanced and the carbonation really adds to the drinkability.  It's clear why lambics are generally blended.  Tasty.

Hitachino Red Rice:  This was on tap at The Porter.  This is brewed with malt and rice, which means that besides ale yeast, Hitachino also uses a sake yeast to process the rice.  It tastes like a mixture of sake, Flemish sour, and Belgian pale.  Some funk, lactic sour, doughy sake yeast, light citrus, maraschino cherry, a little sweet, and nice prickly carbonation.  Great, complex, refreshing beer.

I think that next time I'll be tasting some American sours.

No comments:

Post a Comment