Wednesday, May 14, 2014

THE GREAT SOUR BEER EPIPHANY OF 2014

When I resurrected Beer Samizdat from the ranks of the dead blogs several months ago, I published a list of "New Ground Rules" for beer drinking that included "admit when you're been beaten". I highlighted the fact that while I've had sour ales that blew me away and that are among the most enjoyable beers I've ever had, by and large that's not the case. I've come to the conclusion that barrel-aged, wild-fermented, pucker-up beers are usually not worth the money for this careful beer raconteur. Much as I love many beers by Almanac Beer Co., for instance, their move to sour, barrel-aged ales leaves me perplexed as to whether I should buy 'em all. There's a 2 in 3 chance I just won't like it that much. Not for me. The Great Sour Beer Epiphany of 2014. The truth hurts.

Same for CROOKED STAVE beers - I couldn't handle them - and (gasp) same for CANTILLON. Dissing Cantillon on a beer blog is like spitting on the American flag in 1950s Missouri. It's just not done. So let it be said I'm not dissing Cantillon - I'm providing a fig leaf of cover for those of us who've said enough's enough, and that we're only going to spend our shekels on the beers that truly move us to the next astral plane - not on the ones that the proverbial beer cognoscenti says we should. For me, that'll likely be on Belgian abbey styles, highly-hopped IPAs and imperial reds, saisons, Flanders reds, and the odd imperial stout. Likely other experimental styles as taste, weather and money allows.

After drinking this Cantillon "Rose de Gambrinus", it's clear that this exactly the sort of beer I have in my mind when I'm tallying up the reward-to-expense ratio. Clearly, clearly not worth it. It's a blended lambic with a huge raspberry infusion. Sticky, chewy mouthfeel and sour as hell. It's soapy and tasted "aged", with some harshness and truly not a lot of pleasure. Straight up - it's not my thing, and I love weirdo, experimental and old-world beers. Just not this barrel/sour/wild varietal. So sue me! 5.5/10.

3 comments:

Ryan Mould said...

"Dissing Cantillon on a beer blog is like spitting on the American flag in 1950s Missouri."

Love it.

I've only dabbled in sours (mainly because of their price point), so don't really have a strong opinion either way.

I am a fan of Monk's Flemish Sour and Lindemans Cuvee Rene, however. Have you had those?

Beer Rover said...

I agree. This style is sublime to ridiculous - unfortunately there is not much in the middle. I have found sours either really good or awful. (I did like Rose de Gambrinus, the only Cantillon I have tried.) I think my problem is that I expect every sour to impress me, and too many are just bad. I am now more cautious in my approach to sours, tending to seek out lower ABV (<6.5%).

Jay H. said...

Ryan, yeah, I love the Monk's Flemish Sour as well as multiple other sours. It's just that for me, it fails more often than not - and I suspect just a little bit that when a sour fails, it's easy for a brewer to pretend it succeeded. You know, because it's sour.