Weekly Beer Review: Kriek Lambic
Belgian Cherry Beer
$13.69/Bottle (750 mL)
Every year, families gather to give thanks and to join together in loving fellowship. In many families, including mine, this togetherness is well-lubricated with alcoholic libations. While most of my family appreciates a good beer, they’re not generally craft-beer drinkers. Enter me, your humble Beer Geek. Why make my contribution to the feast yet another starchy, coma-inducing side dish? Instead I get an oversized bottle of something exotic, and let the amateurs go to town giving their thoughts on it. A few words from the brewer, and then we’ll see what they say.
The Brewer’s Pitch:
“Kriek” isn’t actually the name of the beer; it’s the name of the style- a traditional Belgian Lambic beer, flavored with the addition of a specific type of cherry called (in Flemish) Kriek Cherries. You may have also heard of the related style, Framboise, which is similar but made with raspberries. For their Kriek, Lindemans uses locally-sourced barley and unmalted wheat. Perhaps most interesting, the brewers do not add yeast directly. Instead they allow wild airborne yeast to enter the beer during brewing, giving each batch a unique and complex character.
The Family Verdict:
Before we even started tasting, there was a lively debate about the beer. Everyone could agree that it was the first red beer I’d ever brought to Thanksgiving, but my cousin Mike started controversy by asking if I was sure it wasn’t actually a bottle of wine. The 750-mL bottle is the same size as a wine bottle, but telling him that sparked an argument.
My newly-21-year-old cousin Ashley pointed out that this beer, unlike many beers, “doesn’t taste or smell like a beer can return so it’s OK.” She followed up with, “but I’ve had enough bourbon by now I can’t taste much of anything,” proving that she’s a champion. My sister’s fiancé gazed into a glass for quite a while before pronouncing “It’s good. It looks like Redpop. From Faygo.”
My sister said “it’s good- it’s tart. Not sour, but tart” and Mike agreed, adding “you get like, a millisecond of beer taste before you taste the tartness.” My Aunt Karin said it would taste good along with roast pork. Ashley announced that “drinking too much of this would make your stomach turn,” but we think that was the bourbon talking.
Karin asked if it tasted different in a plastic cup compared to a glass, but we all think she just wanted an excuse to get both cups in front of her. My father, who had spent the whole time gazing thoughtfully into space, finally gave his analysis- “It’s got a tart finish after a good sweet cherry start. There’s some hops, but they’re very, very faint.”
Ashley’s father came up with the idea of holding the beer in your mouth for a while, saying that made the sour taste wear off and the beer taste more evident. My dad said “I just tried to do that but when I put beer in my mouth I automatically swallow it.”
Things started to go downhill after that. Mike let fly with a belch and an “oop, that had some puke in it.” This caused my mother to start laughing, squirting some of “the best beer Luke has ever given me” out of her nose and yelling at how bad it stung.
Whew. I nearly lost my chance to write this, as I suddenly realized those jerks were about to finish the entire bottle. The beer itself is a clear, dark ruby-red. It has a thick red-pink foamy head that dissipated quickly in glass, and a bit slower in plastic. The nose is sweet-tart cherry and hints of grain, and reminded me a bit of a cafeteria cherry pie (ya know, with the crust that’s always undercooked and smells like wet grain). The body was quite light and very tingly- it’s a sour, so it is tart and tangy, and there’s a lot of added bite from the carbonation. It’s not sour enough to really make you pucker, but there’s a definite sour layer that settles in along the sides of the tongue. The cherry sweetness is strongly present throughout, and Mike was right- once you’re used to the sourness, you can detect a hint of grain at the very first millisecond of each sip. It’s one of the better cherry sours I’ve had, but really that’s a hard style to beat. When it’s cold it is crisp and sweet, but if you let it get warm it gets a bit syrupy. A definite crowd-pleaser.
Yeah, we all have D.A.D.S., just maybe not the kind you were thinking of: