The Beer Gatherer

Blogging about Israeli beer in general and Israeli craft beer in particular, following 1001 Beers You Must Try Before You Die and other beer musings.

Archive for the category “Lambic”

4 in 1


The night before I flew to my Austro-Hungarian holiday, we’ve been to a tasting at the training room in my old workplace. There were 4 Book Beers in this tasting, a rare thing these days because it’s harder to get a hold on the remaining several hundreds, and moreover, people are more thrilled looking for new and fancy beers than the ones in the book. Cannot blame them really. However, The Beer Greek was kind enough to buy a bottle of Timmermans Framboise Lambic, that everybody, including him, and probably including me, has already drank, as it was distributed in Israel in the past. It’s a lambic with some additives, that pours clear-to-hazy reddish-brown and smells  sugary and of raspberry syrup. Tastes sourish, lots of fruity sweetness. Light body, soft fizz, long sweet finish. Tastes like children’s syrup.

Sailor Tom, who’s been spending most of his time in Ireland now, and always brings cool stuff, shared a bottle of Galway Hooker Irish Pale Ale and by that I finished all Irish beers from The Book. Yay! Not only that, but about a month early, Sailor Tom brought Northern Ireland’s representative – Clotworthy Dobbin. Galway Hooker Irish Pale Ale is actually an APA, but the bottle was probably a wee bit old, and the main motif of my tasting notes was “old hops”. Not too bitter, on the fruity side of things. Clotworthy Dobbin, by Whitewater brewery, was a pretty decent porter. No novelty, no gimmicks, but tasty and balanced. Sweet and nutty aroma, with a little chocolate as well. Nutty taste, slightly bitter and toasty, then sweet. Lightish body, chocolate and nutty finish.

More from the British Isles, a bottle of Exmoor Gold, a golden ale from Somerset, regionally distributed, got it from a trade. Clear golden with a white head. Paper and a little moldy aroma, sweet and old taste. Light body, stale and sweet finish. Not too amazing.

I also shared a bottle of Smuttynose’s Doppelbock, S’muttonator, that my brother got for me in California, I think. Hazy brown with a beige head. Old grapes and dark fruit aroma, sweet, dark fruit taste. Full body, very fizzy and boozy finish.

When we finished the tasting we visited the new brewery. I worked there for almost 2 years and was always too busy or stressed out to go any further from the soft drink bottling line, that was a shortcut to the canteen. So I took a picture:


Timmermans Framboise Lambic, Galway Hooker Irish Pale Ale, Clotworthy Dobbin,Exmoor Gold and Smuttynose S’muttonator, are beers #439, #440, #441, #442 and #443 I Must Try Before I Die.



the ritualistic end-of-tasting pic

the ritualistic end-of-tasting pic

Last Sunday The Secret Agent and I joined a sour beer tasting at the Beer and Beyond shop in Tel Aviv. It was the first time that we actually participated in a sour beer tasting and not just crashing. We have not yet acquired the taste but we’ve been handling it quite well and religiously following the 1001 book, that commands us to  imbibe a handful of those pungent concoctions. Thus when we order, trade and pimp beer we make sure to include sour stuff to drink and tick and share in these special sessions.

We contributed two bottles to Sunday’s gathering. First is Cantillon Lou Pepe Framboise, 2010 vintage that Shachar, owner of Beer and Beyond to whom I failed to find a permanent nick, carried from Belgium (knowing he’ll get a glass 🙂 ). 4th out of the five Cantillon reps. in the book. Old lambic with an addition of glucose, says The Holy Book, and more raspberries than Rosé de Gambrinus – the 5th Cantillon in the book, which we haven’t tasted yet so we cannot compare.

Cantillon and fans

Cantillon and fans

Look at this beauty: hazy red with a pale pink head. I wish its aroma was as good as its looks: it smells acidic and a little like acrylic paint. As it sits in the glass the raspberries rise to the nostrils. It tastes faintly of raspberries, violently sour and somewhat rotten. No carbonation, medium body. Look at REL and The Dead Swedish Girl having the time of their lives.

boonThe Actuary (de jure and de facto!) brought Boon Oude Geuze and Boon Oude Geuze Mariage Parfait. We had actually drank the former a couple of weeks ago with Nimrod from The Attic alcoholic empire but I haven’t got to write about that session yet. Oude Geuze smelled stinky and urinal at Beer and Beyond but 2 weeks ago in Haifa it was more like sour milk, rotten oranges left on the grove’s ground and baby shit – I shit you not. I rated the orange and milk (and baby shit) aroma higher.  Taste? Very sour. Carbonation? None. I liked it best when we drank it in Romania, but that’s for another entey that’s in the work. Mariage Parfait is like premium Oude Geuze, personally blended by the brewmaster. I like it better than the regular geuze. It was clearer in colour, solphuric in the nose and tastes more tolerable and delicate with every sip.

last, yeasty, drop

last, yeasty, drop

Finally – our crown jewel, one of these beers you think you’d never find and its unexpected appearance on the shelf fills you with joy: BFM L’Abbaye de Saint Bon-Chien (2011 vintage): we found it in Beer Planet in Zürich during our Swiss Weekend. A blend of beers aged in oak casks that was the perfect finale to the tasting. It’s an ugly beer – orange, headless and filled with floaties – cloudy and yeasty in my glass, clear in DSG’s that got the first pour, that smells of nuts, bile and gherkin water. The taste is rather pleasing – very sour, of course, but reminds me of fruit soup – and becomes more tolerable and even sweeter as sips go by. The body is full and heavy, finish is slightly sour and carbonation is high. Like the other three mentioned here – not an easy drink.

There are plenty of other sour beers in the book. We drank a few that we haven’t got a chance to blog about and are already on the lookout for more. Glad that there are tastings – drinking lambics by ourselves would have been nearly impossible.

Cantillon Lou Pepe, Boon Oude Geuze, Boon Oude Geuze Mariage Parfait and L’Abbaye de Saint Bon-Chien are beers #265, #266, #267 and #268 I Must Try Before I Die.

Recap Madness #1: Last Saturday

Last Saturday the tasters and raters gathered at the Big Bear’s place for what was initially announced as Georgia vs. Italy tasting, a result of Big Bear’s dad’s trip to Italy and Dead Swedish Girl’s mom’s excursion to Georgia. Meanwhile most of the Georgian beer had already been sampled in previous tastings and we all brought bottles and cans from our stashes. The Secret Agent and I contributed beer from the book, but The (soon to be) Texan and  DSG also shared helpful stuff.

Cantillon Iris is  one of the 5 different brews from Cantillon that appear in the 1001 book and the third we’ve sampled so far. It’s good to have Sour lovers around. Drinking Cantillon in a regular tasting was not as intense and challenging as it was during the sour tasting. It probably was for the hopheads in the room, but for me it went OK. Cider vinegar and limestone aroma, extremely pickle juice-like taste (you know, the water that preserve gherkins), medium body and thankfully short finish. I still consider those lambics weird (blended, unblended, I still can’t tell the difference), but it was strangely fine.

DSG said that Tipopils by Birrificio Italiano is the best pilsner he has ever tasted. Having just rated his 3000th beer, he has had his share of pilsner. I’d vouch for some fresh Czech draught pils myself, but Tipopils was more than decent. Clear to hazy golden with white foam, green, hemp-like aroma, fresh bitterness and a crisp finish – a beer to drink all by yourself, had it been distributed locally.

We also brought pilsner, Lagunitas Pils. We’ve drank the brewery’s great Olde GnarlyWine (with a dog on the label – another dog beer!) last month and thoroughly enjoyed it. The pils was so-so. Sweet, flowery aroma, some cookie dough even and delicate bitterness with light body and quick finish. Not bad but really, nothing unusual.

Two Brothers Cane and Ebel was a beer I was looking forward to drink and I wasn’t disappointed. Amber coloured American Strong Ale with a light body, the beer has a strong hoppy aroma with evergreen, flowers and hints of citrus and a delicate, just slightly dry taste. Smooth texture, soft carbonation and fruity-bitter finish.

We tasted many other beers, some were good, others were not, but time’s short. Lots of catching up to do and we need to get out to the beer fest taking place in town.

These were beers #54, 55, 56 and 57 I Must Try Before I Die.

Turning Lemons into Lemonade

It is not a bottle pic if there's no beergeek in the back. Thanks DSG for the photo.

Pardon my absence.  In the past couple of weeks I’ve been on a sick leave and was more on the mood of exploiting the wonders of streaming, something I’ve never done before than into blogging.  Drinking and tasting? Yes, moderately, but been too caught up with liver-unrelated health conditions. But I feel better now, busy emptying the fridge before another beer batch arrives. I also have the time to catch up and finally write about the second Sour Beer tasting I invited myself to.

It started the same as the first sour beer tasting crashing: I heard about the plan and asked DSG to look at the beer list. Only this time 5 out of the 12 bottles were on my list. DSG said it would be stupid not to stay for the entire tasting and thus, on Sunday evening before Passover, I stopped by at a small but great Tel Avivian bakery and bought fresh, crisp loaves of sourdough bread, in lieu of the bottles that I could not contribute to the tasting.

Despite my instinctive disliking of sour beers, I tried to be as open-minded as possible, and even managed to enjoy a couple of the brews.

The highlight of the tasting, at least for me, was Liefmans Glühkriek, that we first sampled cold and then heated. I love Christmas wine (spiced wine is one of the few forms that I enjoy this drink) and whereas Cherry beer is far from being my favourite, it worked well here. When cold, cherry dominated the aroma and the taste was sweet, spicy and tangy. Warming the liquid brought out winy, spicy-allspice aroma and soft, deep, just a little sour taste. No carbonation and wine-like finish.

Lindeman’s Faro Lambic was also not the hardcore beer I expected: smells like champagne, tastes rather sweet and delicate with some sourness in the back and an oily texture.. I think I kinda like it.

Next we proceeded to an unrateable bottle: Achziv, spontaneously-fermented beer brewed by my buddy Captain Nimrod at his home, in the very heart of Tel Aviv. Hazy golden in colour, no head, dominant smoke due to the malt used (and not to the fact that Dizengoff 100‘s beers are brewed in 100 Dizengoff st, where you eat smog and bus fumes for breakfast, lunch and dinner). It tasted a little sour but not in a lambic-y way and was quite weird altogether.

New Belgium Lips of Faith’s Beer de Mars was not to my liking. Cloudy orange in colour, orange and clove in the nose and white orange peel in the mouth, it is a light beer, rather flat and unimpressive. The label was pretty though, and that’s a statement you’d never hear or read about Orval, the next in line. You’d think that a trappist beer has no place in a sour tasting session, but had this bottle been a human being, it’d be a 4th grader now. Bottled in March 14th 2002, it poured cloudy with particles floating and sinking, and minimal foam. It smelled yeasty, stinky and limestone-like and tasted poisonously sour. A little burning finish, flat, heavy body and hard to drink, Orval doesn’t age gracefully, although there was something I liked in the taste and the smell.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that it is not a beer tasting if there’s no Mikkeller in line. This time, Spontancranberry: violent, raw sourness, hard to swallow and rather flat, with cloudy orange colour and cranberry aroma. I didn’t detect the manure aroma that others have sensed. Not sure if I’m glad about missing it or not.

Oude Beersel Oude Geuze is listed in the book and was one of my least favourite in this session. Cloudy piss colour with white head, with a delicate dust and grease aroma, it tasted sour and stingy and had a salty finish. Girardin Gueuze Black Label smelled of garlic (one of my favourite aromas in the whole world, just not in beer) and piss and was hardcorely sour: burning sensation, green olives in the mouth and a sweetish finish that was left in my mouth when the flat liquid went down my esophagus.

Like Mikkeller and beer tasting, it seems like it is not a sour beer tasting if there is no Cantillon on the table. The Gueuze 100% Lambic Bio is blond, almost flat and cloudy, that sports dairy aroma (brie in particular) and some apple. It tasted hot and, well, sour and had a light body and dry, flat finish. 3 Fonteinen Zwet.Be was pretty cool: dark porter brewed with lambic yeast. It poured dark opaque brown, had tan head and smelled like marmite and grapes. Zwet.Be had a hint of sour, but unlike the other drinks sampled this one reminded me of beer with its slight bitterness. Light body, light carbonation and pretty decent.

Russian River Temptation was one of the better parts in this tasting: Clear blond with a slim white film of foam, it sported  a condensed pungent aroma and while there was a little bitterness, sour dominated the taste buds. Light body, oily with light carbonation, it was a little like wine.

We finished the tasting with De Dolle Special Reserva Oerbier, 2008 edition. Cloudy brown in colour, muddy, then alcoholic, then cherry aroma, unpleasant hot, sour and acidic  taste and fizzy body.

It was an interesting tasting and I am glad I was welcomed. 6 beers were crossed off my list: Orval, which I’ll probably taste again in a fresher mode, Oude Beersel Oude Geuze, Girardin Gueuze Black Label Cantillon Gueuze 100% Lambic Bio, Russian River Temptation and De Dolle Special Reserva Oerbier are beers # 38, 39, 40, 41, and 42  to try before I die.

Where’s #43, you ask? Well, I made a mistake earlier  and Young Double Chocolate Stout is NOT in the book, so there.

On a sour note

When I heard that a group of fellow beergeeks were working on a tasting session of sour beer, I contacted DSG and asked to see their tasting plan, should they sample anything that’s listed on the 1001 book. DSG forwarded me the beer list for the evening and I was delighted to find Grand Cru Bruocsella Cantillon on their list and jumped on the opportunity to cross it off mine. I might be losing friends or credibility over the next sentence but it must be said: I really don’t like sour beer. Veganism taken into account, I’m not a picky eater or drinker. I’d try everything once and last October I sampled 4 different offerings from Cantillon on the brewery tour. I tolerated none.
I asked to join for the Cantillon part of the evening. The gang kindly agreed to share their 2007 vintage with The Secret Agent and I and thus last night we joined them around the long wooden desk in a meeting room in an office in the city center. They were already in the middle of consuming acidity, that was accompanied by pretzels and (brilliant) homemade Sauerkraut.
A generous portion of yellowish hazy Grand Cru Bruocsella was poured to wine goblets. Following the pouring were a few good minutes of overwhelming Sourness with capital S. Whereas the aroma was tolerable – I sensed apples (thank goodness I didn’t smell what my partner in crime did – piss), drinking was difficult: extreme sourness with clear saltiness attacked my taste buds. My attempts to keep up appearances in front of my hosts failed as I couldn’t control my facial expression. I drank it all though, swallowed every bit of the flat, light and slightly oily liquid. Then we thanked our generous hosts that all seemed to devour their share, and headed up the street to Little Prague, the Czech restaurant that celebrated its 10th anniversary with 10nis. refills and souvenir pint mugs. Kozel Premium and Edelweiss Weissbier Snowfresh for the lady, Edelweiss Weissbier Dunkel and Franziskaner Hefe-Weissbier for her man sure helped us to overcome the trauma.

Then, while summing up this entry, I realised that our beloved Franziskaner is listed in the book too, so this entry covers Beer #7 and #8 out of those 1001 Beers I must try before I die.

Thank you, chubby, happy monk, for that liquid goodness.

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