Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Cantillon gueuze


mamster
 Share

Recommended Posts

The other night I was looking for somethign to read in bed, and I pulled the recent Art of Eating issue that concerned Belgian beer.  In it, Ed Behr travels around Belgium talking to brewers, musing about whether the traditions are dying out, and picking the best brews.  He was most generally positive about Cantillon gueuze, which is a blended lambic.  The Cantillon brewery (http://www.cantillon.be/) is run by nth-generation beer traditionalists who refuse to join the lambic brewer's association because those other brewers leave residual sugar and do other untoward things.

Maybe I'm not telling anyone something they don't know here (I learned all of this from the magazine), but lambic is an unusual beast.  Whereas nearly all other beers are fermented by an addition of cultured yeast, lambic is left in vats in musty warehouses to ferment "spontaneously"--that is, by the action of dozens of species of wild yeast and lactic acid bacteria.  Gueuze is often hyperbolically called the "champagne of lambic" because it is blended from several years and then fermented further in the bottle.

Well, I'd read this issue back when I got it (last year, I think), and even though I like beer, I must have convinced myself that a genuine gueuze would be a hard thing to find.  After rereading the issue, I decided this was something I had to try, so I steeled myself for a lengthy search.

Turns out they carry Cantillon gueuze at my local Whole Foods location.  A 750ml bottle was $12--expensive for beer, but (a) this beer is considered by many serious beer drinkers to be among the best in the world (I tried to imagine getting one of the world's best wines for $12, and said hurrah for beer), and (b) I've probably spent more than that at a ballpark or concert for really bad beer.

Cantillon gueuze comes in a bottle with both a cork and a bottlecap.  It is best served at cellar temperature, somewhere in the 50-60 F range.  It's one of the most unusual drinks I've ever had, an unabashedly tart, fizzy, and cloudy beer with citrus overtones.  I expected it might be heavy and unapproachable--Behr had warned as much--but it's hard to imagine someone who likes beer and wine in general, even in a strictly amateur way like me, not finding gueuze not just a cerebral experience, but a refreshing one.

I can't wait to go back for a bottle of Cantillon kriek, with sour cherries.

Matthew Amster-Burton, aka "mamster"

Author, Hungry Monkey, coming in May

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mamster,

I was in Belgium last month and also sampled the Cantillon Gueuze.  I had done my beer research and looked forward to trying it, since as you said it is very highly regarded and I love gueuzes.  What a surprise!  It didn't taste like any gueuze I'd had before (mostly Boon).  Bone-dry and almost wine-like in its flavor, I suppose because of all that fermentation.  Yeast is a wonderful thing!  I found it refreshing and complex as you did, not unapproachable at all.

I'm still kicking myself for not trying the Kriek while I was over there (so much beer, so little time, such low tolerance), but I can get it at our local nationally-regarded pub The Brickskeller for the bargain price of $US19.95 for 750ml.  I believe the Cantillon Gueuze I had in Belgium was 4.50 euros (standard bottle)!  I love cherry lambics but sometimes wish they were a little less sweet; given their Gueuze, I bet Cantillon's Kriek is right on the money with my tastes.  Have you tried it yet?

I envy you your Whole Foods connection.  My local WF equivalent (Fresh Fields) has a few Belgian beers, but none from Cantillon.  I had assumed this was because they're not tied into Interbrew or the other major beer distributor over there, but if you can get it in Seattle...  The wine selection does seem to vary widely from store to store, though, so maybe another Fresh Fields will carry it or could be coerced to.

By the way, if you're ever in Bruges you must check out 't Brugs Beertje (Little Brown Bear), a friendly pub which has the best selection in the country and is where I did the majority of my taste testing.  The second time I stopped in, Tom the bartender greeted me by name!  Definite culture shock, but a very positive one.

Erin
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey edemuth, if you like cherry lambics but wish they were a little less sweet, you might try any of the Rodenbach beers.  They're not lambics, but get a uniquely sour, slightly sweet aftertaste, from the red oak casks the ale matures in.  They're really wonderful ales.

"Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut." -Ernest Hemingway

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hopleaf--I agree; Rodenbach Grand Cru is one of my favorite beers!  It's the only red ale I've tried so far, but I hear it's the best of the bunch.  Do you have any others to recommend?

Has anyone tried the Brugse Tripel?  Another treasure from my visit.  It has almost a tropical fruity overtone (orange, banana, apple) but I didn't find it too sweet...  there's a tart undercurrent that sets the fruit off.  Well worth a try IMO.

Erin
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not sure if you're looking for just Belgian recommendations, but I really like a stout that Minnesota brewery Summit puts out.  It's not as thick as Guinness, but has a wonderful carmel, coffee flavor to it.  There's also a Wisconsin brewery called New Glarus that makes some excellent brews; a very close immitation Belgian red ale, a drinkable, hoppy ale, a Raspberry tart ale.  Not sure about Summit, but New Glarus is on the web:

New Glarus Brewery

"Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut." -Ernest Hemingway

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have not tried the Cantillon kriek yet, but I intend to get it next time I'm at Whole Foods.  If I were you, I'd ask at your location and see if you can convince them to buy a case or two.

I also fully intend to go to Bruges someday, but I think that will probably happen sometime after my next trip to Whole Foods.

Matthew Amster-Burton, aka "mamster"

Author, Hungry Monkey, coming in May

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

Folks in the DC area can purchase Cantillon and several other brands of lambic at Whole Foods Market in Vienna, where I am the beer guy.

Lambic was recently the topic of the cover story (by Canadian beer writer Stephen Beaumont) of Saveur, with some great photos, including the Van Roy family that runs Cantillon.

Probably about five years ago, Scientific American ran an interesting piece on lambic. You can probably find it on their web site.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sorry, I should have mentioned in my previous post that Rodenbach has not been imported to the US for over a year now. I hear it might be coming back soon, but meanwhile, you can try Duchesse de Bourgogne, a very nice beer of similar style (West Flanders red/brown ale).

Somewhat related is a British beer called Old Suffolk (Strong Suffolk in its native land, where they don't have ATF to tell them they can't call a beer strong). It's a blend of a young beer with an older, stronger brew that has spent considerable time in wood.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not sure if you're looking for just Belgian recommendations, but I really like a stout that Minnesota brewery Summit puts out.  It's not as thick as Guinness, but has a wonderful carmel, coffee flavor to it.  There's also a Wisconsin brewery called New Glarus that makes some excellent brews; a very close immitation Belgian red ale, a drinkable, hoppy ale, a Raspberry tart ale.  Not sure about Summit, but New Glarus is on the web.

Summit is also on the web here

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

oh my goodness #2: the cantillon geuze is one of the most complex, thought-provoking beers ive had in my life (albeit ive only been drinking age for 9 years). very long finish, lingering on the midpalate i have lemons and limes with some cherry undertones and a definite berry nose, among other things. very intense but not overwhelming at all. this is approachable, somewhat accessible albeit immensely distinctive, although someone going straight to this from coors light wouldn't go for it........

(GOOD! more for us)

in brooklyn i got it at bierkraft, a 9 month old store with over 600 brews and 100 cheeses. my first time, but worth revisiting. i highly recommend this store to those in nyc. superb service.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...
I can't wait to go back for a bottle of Cantillon kriek, with sour cherries.

ok, so I'm reviving an old thread.

Mamster, have you gone to Bottleworks yet? They are on 45th in Wallingford, and you MUST see their selection of belgians. They have more Cantillon flavors than anywhere I believe. I adore the Vigneronne, made with muscat grapes.

Born Free, Now Expensive

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...