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.
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.
The 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.
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.