Friday, August 23, 2013

MY FIRST CANTILLON

Long on my unfulfilled list of beer dork musts, drinking a beer from Belgium's famed CANTILLON took way longer to achieve than, say, drinking a Trappist Westvleteren 12. This is partially due to only getting my "lambic legs" a few years ago; partially due to price; and mainly due to availability. Like, it's not every day that bottles from the famed lambic masters flow into BevMo, right? I was drinking at OLYMPEN in Oslo, Norway a few months back, and they had a bunch of Cantillon, but it was seriously about $50 a bottle, reflecting its scarcity, desirability and the insane prices of Norway in general. A few years ago I was drinking at LA CERVETECA in Barcelona, Spain (oh, I do so get around, you know), and Cantillon was practically spilling off the shelves there, but I was just a dumb 'ol 'Merican, looking for rather pedestrian dubbels and tripels and whatnot. Expensive weirdo sours were not in my consideration set. Until now.

Of course, CANTILLON have been doing this a long time. The amount of wild blends and concoctions they've come up with over the years – hell, even this year – is staggering. People pay a pretty penny for them, and as far as which beer to start with? Who knows, right? Whatever you can get. Me, I started with a $25 bottle of "IRIS", which I bought at San Francisco's Healthy Spirits. I had to practically break every traffic law known to man to get there in time to snag one, but goddamn it, I did it, and I beat some other sad sack to do so.

I put myself in the proper skeptical mood. "No matter what Don'tDrinkBeer says about Cantillon, Jay – it's only a beer". Turns out I was right! "IRIS" is indeed only a beer. A good one, though, but nothing that blows away five other sour ales I've had so far in 2013. It's right in line with some of the better ones. This capped-and-corked bottle brings forth a rich and even slightly hoppy lambic blend. I taste apricot, melon and lots and lots of yeast. It's pretty goshdarned acidic as well. As I understand it, a "linen bag filled with hops" is left to soak in with this beer for 2 weeks as it ferments. It makes it more bitter than your average sour. It's pretty good, you know? At the end of the day, though, I've had a Cantillon and I'm still standing. I've got another of their beers at home, and I'll let you know about that one when the time to drink it presents itself. 7.5/10.

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