Sour in the Summer tasting, August 18 2015

Shawn Young
August 18, 2015

Well, there is a first for everything right? I mean I may be wrong (and feel free to correct me if I am), but I think this was the first sour tasting hosted by a beer shop here in Calgary (ok ok so we’re not just a beer shop… I’m happy in my delusion). I was so excited to put this on, and with only 2 weeks’ notice, my colleagues and I worked hard to make sure everyone who would be interested knew about it. So much in fact that we ended up overselling the tasting and had to make it a stand up tasting! However, that allowed me to open the really good stuff!

Our friends at Peasant Cheese picked out some cheeses for us that would stand up to the onslaught of acids  we were about to be subjected to, and just now as I’m writing, I realize I could have given it a funny name based on lactic acid (cheese and lacto fermentation and whatnot… oh well next time).

So here’s the lineup for all those curious. Please commence drooling!

Oude Geuze by 3 fonteinen
The first of the evening was one of many Lambics. The classic geuze style is a blend of 1, 2 and 3 year old lambics. The 2 and 3 year olds are have practically fermented dry, and the 1 year old is mainly added to priming sugar for the carbonation. This boasts huge tart aromas and flavors, and melange of fruit characteristics, peach, green apple, mild pear. Cidery oak notes and a crazy amount of funk. Upon first sniff, everyone knew exactly what to expect this tasting. ($27.69 for a 750mL bottle)

Dulcis Succubus by Le Trou du Diable
Although I could easily have made the tasting purely out of lambics, I did want to offer some variation by giving a few different kinds of sours. This is a mildly sour barrel aged saison by one of Canada’s top brewers (and one of the world’s truth be told). Peach, apple and apricot penetrate the malty and straw farmhouse malt. A young and mild acidic note that shows potential for age, but currently does not overtake the malty body. ($22.19 for a 750mL bottle)

Geuze Mega Blend 2015 by HORAL
This is a biennial release from Belgium’s high counsel of artisanal lambic-style beer producers (The initialism HORAL makes sense in French -or maybe it’s Dutch?-). This most recent version is said to be the best one yet, and all I can say is that it’s probably in my top 5 lambics ever.  It’s a fairly dry geuze with a crisp bright acidity and plenty of crab apple flavors. Grapefruit tartness plays around with an interesting sweet note that’s hard to place. ($24.49 for a 750mL bottle)

1945 Berliner Weisse by Black Market brewing
This was the second and final break in lambics that we took. This is a take on a northern German sour wheat ale that dates back to around the 15th century. This wheat beer is fermented with Lactobacillus to give it a tart lactic acid zing. Mild spices including clove and pepper come through on the palate, along plenty of fresh cracked wheat and a generous and lively carbonation. ($8.59 for a 650mL bottle)

Oude Quetsche by Tilquin
We hopped right back into the lambics with this one, the first of 3 fruited lambics. A geuze blend that was aged on Namur plums (versions aged on Damson plums, or no fruit at all are also available in store). This has a mild carbonation that is just enough to push plum aromas out into the open. The plum flavors are more of an undertone that play along with the tartness of the beer itself (think about the tart qualities of plum skin, it’s kind of like that). All this along with that typical cheesy, horse blankety funk. Beautiful! ($16.69 for a 375mL bottle)

Kriek de Ranke by De Ranke
This is a blend of Belgian sour ale and lambic, along with cherries. This was a surprising beer as it came across a lot more funky and musty than the others (and even compared to previous vintages of itself). The cherries are forthright and present behind a veritable wall of barrel funk. Musty oak and old book-like aromas, along with a mild malty base. ($17.39 for a 750mL bottle).

Bzart Kriekenlambiek
I was very excited to be able to open this for the tasting. The Bzart series is the only sparkling lambic ever made (called “sparkling” because they use the traditional champagne method for clarity and carbonation). It had a soft sourness that was wonderfully acidic but not overwhelming. The cherries were incredibly rich, and was accompanied by plenty of stewed berry notes such as cassis and blackberries. Each component seemed to integrate pretty well and made this an easy drinking, but very complex brew. ($45.49 for a 750mL bottle – currently out of stock with no information on when we’ll see more).

Well, that was all of the beer in all their lip puckering, tongue stripping beauty. Truth be told, I’m writing this the night after the tasting, and my tongue still kind of hurts. We might have overdone it, but how could we not? There were definitely some standouts in the tasting, aaaaand maybe there was one or two that not everyone could get around. The favorites of the night from first to third are: Bzart Kriekenlambiek, Oude Quetsche Tilquin, and 1945 Berliner Weisse Respectively, and luckily as of this post, there are plenty of #2 and #3 in stock for those curious (and all the others except the Bzart for that matter!).

Well I will leave you with that. Thanks again to the Peasant Cheese company for the amazing food, and thanks for all who attended! Next time I will bring the antacids!

Shawn

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