AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 16/20
AdamJackson (2578) – Enfield, New Hampshire, USA – SEP 11, 2014
A – Really nice golden clarity, fluffy head that faded semi-quick to a light thin ring.
S – t. Lots of spice and peppercorn and Indian food spice with mushrooms Brett. Very interesting.
T – Loads of rose petal floral tastes. Spicy up front, honey and lime finish. Oily and coats the tongue with a fleeting lime only remainder when it’s gone. I get a little bit of apple and persimmon.
M – Nice dry mouthfeel at the finish but not as crisp as I was hoping. A bit too oily
O – This is still a fantastic saison! Really clean, lovely enjoyable. Classified here as a wild ale which is fine but has a lot of saison character.
I was pretty happy to see this over the weekend. The only time I’ve had HFS beers and not checked in was @ their festivals where there is no cell-service but I’d say this number is pretty accurate. I had my first Hill Farmstead beer in January of 2012 so that’s 2 years and 9 months of drinking Shaun’s beer. Some quick math tells me I have 3.4 Hill Farmstead beers every week since I started drinking them. I’m pretty impressed by that number.
The only guy ahead of me would be Yourefragile on Untappd. He lives almost 12 hours from Hill Farmstead but is ahead of me in check-ins on almost every HFS beer and I just recently passed him on RateBeer in unique HFS reviews.
While not a huge accomplishment in the scheme of things, I find this number to be oddly satisfying. Here’s to another 500 Hill Farmstead beers.
Oh and @ an average of $10 per beer, that’s $5,000 USD spent at least @ Hill Farmstead since 2012. Jeezum.
Don’t let the name deceive you. This is the 6th version of the Gang Bang where we do a secret santa style box of beers for another regional group. Teams are anonymous and this is my second ‘bang’. The minimum ounces each group sends is 700..I think we passed 1,000. Of course if we’re going to get together and pack up a box, we might as well drink a few beers! I took a few photos.
Infinity Brewing in Vermont is brand new. They’re not even on the VT Passport yet. I had the honor of trying 8 of their beers in bottle form last weekend and I’m pretty impressed. No, they’re not all A+ OMFG awesome but for a new brewery that just opened, they’ve already started to do interesting things and for that, they’re worth checking out even if it’s just a drop in to their tasting room.
AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 16/20
AdamJackson (2577) – Enfield, New Hampshire, USA – AUG 29, 2014
A – Hazy really muted golden yellow 2 finger head, faded to a small lacing. really nice pour.
S – Nose is interesting. A hard boiled egg / egg yolk, oak, lemon graham cracker and angel food cake. slight fecal aroma but very faint.
T – A lot of doughy lemon zest, bread and yeasty brett funk with lemon and cool whip
M – Excellent body! Full bodied, insanely dry, great bottle conditioning so delicate.
O – This is a really good saison! I love the mouthfeel. wish I could have more.
AROMA 10/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 16/20
AdamJackson (2577) – Enfield, New Hampshire, USA – SEP 5, 2014
A – Nice clarity golden pour looks like a crystal clear shiny golden ale. 3 finger off white to orange head that fades to a thin white line.
S – The nose is stupidly insane! Smells like straight up 2 year unblended Girardin or Cantillon Lambic with a great dose of orange, lemon zest, blue cheese and oaky goodness. I certainly get that lactobacillus tartness that you get after Sankt Hans has spent 15 months in the bottle. Spontaneous cultures, I could sniff this for hours. So close to a juicier 2 year Lambic than any other Hill beer I’ve had.Actually it has a lot of aroma like CD4 smelled at FOFA last year after 18 months in the bottle.
T – Oh mercy. Okay, there’s a lot to say here. First of all, it’s quite possibly the most tart (sour) beer I’ve had from Hill Farmstead. Acidic tart white grapes, sweet earthy bitterness and finish is a more sweet peach & tangerine taste. I can feel the sour on the top of my mouth and tongue…too much of this and I’m going to get those bumps on my tongue from too much sour but to some people, it’s perfect. I can certainly taste all of the individual components with Sankt & PoS being the most forward.
M – Sweet oily bursting carbonation, sticks around for a very long time after each sip.
O – so straight up, best smelling HFS beer ever. Taste wise, there are others I think are better mostly because this is a bit too acidic for my tastes. Will I drink the rest of my bottles? Heck yeah! They’re mine, all mine! I love Art and I love Sankt Hans and PoS is a terrific american wild ale. these meld well together.
AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 18/20
AdamJackson (2577) – Enfield, New Hampshire, USA – SEP 5, 2014
A – Pour is very murky brown woody with a very prune juice appearance which is of course the look of a barley wine so no surprise there. 1 finger milk chocolate head appeared and faded to a thin ring.
S – Smell is walnut, chestnut, caramel, peanut, vanilla ice cream, figs, maple syrup and toffee. Very decadent aroma.
T – Obviously whiskey up front, middle and at the finish. The whiskey is long lasting. There’s a lot going on here. Oak tannic vanilla is probably the most substantial and a walnut pistachio mix of nuttiness with rich figs covered in a sweet candy apple sugary taste. There’s a whole lot going on here. Maybe it’s slightly more sweet than I would prefer but that’s my own fault.
M – Mouthfeel is creamy, dense and oily with a bittersweet naked vanilla finish.
O – The long time in oak has done wonders to this beer. It’s perfect right out of the gate. Sure it’ll change with time but this is ready to drink now. Reminds me of a lot of barleywines after I sit on them for a year after purchase. The 2 years in oak lends a slight oxidation, brings out the oak and vanilla and lets the flavors meld together really well.
Last month, I wrote this post about some knowledge of Lambic I’ve picked up over the past 2 years. There are Lambic lovers all over the world that know more than me and I certainly respect their knowledge. Some are total assholes about how much they know and given that Lambic is a poor-man’s beer in the Belgian country-side and mostly consumed by old people, the arrogance of Lambic experts is pretty annoying.
I try to share as much Lambic as I can with strangers and friends. I happen to be lucky enough to go to Belgium enough that I get my bottles considerably cheap considering what people state-side are paying / trading for. No need to be a jerk about things.
Anyway, over the past few years I’ve had the luck of being able to drink a lot of 3 Fonteinen Gueuze. Most people who drink a lot of Lambic/Faro know that 3F has the absolute best Gueuze and Cantillon has the best Fruit Lambic. These two facts are echoed by people I speak with around the world. There are great Lambic beers coming from others but these two are the kings as far as I’m concerned with Hanssens in 2nd place for their Fruit Lambic and Tilquin in 2nd place for their Gueuze.
I’ve been thinking about the past, present and future of the Three Fountains Gueuzerie in Beersel a lot more than is healthy and frankly, I’m a 3F fanboy. I’ve never had a lambic from them that I didn’t like (except for those 375ML ’06 Doesjel bottles while the 750s were freaking amazing).
The 3F Terroir / Classic Taste. I’ve had 3F Gueuze from 1995 up to 2014 with a few bottles opened right at the brewery, very fresh and just recently bottled. The standard taste you get from 3F Gueuze is easily described as:
3. Basement Musk/Must/Dust
4. Additional Citrus brightness (fades with time)
5. Funky rope, leather
6. A touch of blue cheese
These notes I pretty much pick up in every bottle I’ve had from them.
Where do the 3F Blend’s rank for me? First it’s important to note, I’ve had their Gueuze at the brewery, at trusted cafes and cellars around Belgium and I’ve traded for bottles where a person in the nordic / Benelux area bought the bottle fresh on a shelf and cellared it since purchase. I don’t trade for 2nd or 3rd hand bottles. Some people just don’t cellar properly.
Top 3F Gueuze Blends:
1. Golden Blend (mostly because the lemon & oak are so highly present and the effervescent carbonation is A+++++)
2. Armand & Tomme (So juicy and lemon forward with a funk that is consistent but not overwhelming and so very little must but that may change over time)
4. Oude Gueuze Armand 4 (Lente) This beer to me resembled Armand & Tomme but with slightly less citrus / lemon sour. Incredibly balanced
3. Fresh Oude Gueuze @ 3F….I can’t honestly say much other than this was spectacular.
5. Doesjel 2006 (750ML), The bottle I had initially was flat and meh but certainly had appealing flavors. The 2006 I opened this summer was marginally carbed, had a great cork pop and was no longer lazy and it was spectacular. I immediately traded for 2 more bottles.
6. Oude Gueuze Vintage – I’ve been lucky to have traded for 2002 – 2008 of this and keep a few cases as stock. I open one on special occasions and while I haven’t had the 2002 yet, all others were phenomenal with the 2003 and 2006 being my favorites so far. While the bottling dates may have been different even in each vintage, those were some special years. I’m interested to see how the 2008 progresses.
6. The rest of the Armand’4 seasons. These are all tied in my book. I’ve had each of these beers only twice where the others I’ve had MANY times so I’d say all of the seasons are great and some are aging better than others. (Note: Lambic is similar to Champagne. There are sweet spots in the age and you can only read trade-forums to really know where a Gueuze is in the maturation process. Fresh is great then there’s sometimes a 3 year peak then a rest period and a 10 year peak, etc). I’m holding on to 2 box sets of Armand seasons for this reason. I think these will be great in 5-6 years.
7. J&J Blauw – The bottle I had of this I traded for last year. A guy in Denmark who bought the bottle first hand and sat on it. We did a larger trade, I then put the Blauw in my basement for many months and then enjoyed myself at just below cellar temp. I loved the beer a lot but as you can see, I’d drink regular fresh Oude Gueuze any day of the week. It was overly oaky, very funky, way too much mold and grossness. I’d love to trade for another bottle but that would be difficult now.
8. 1998 50th Anniversary Gueuze – I recently had this and really loved it. I’d say it’s a bit past its prime with very similar flavors of Blauw. If I had any left, I’d drink it sooner rather than later. Super funky, lots of leather, rope, brett and basement mold.
….J&J Roze I haven’t had yet but will soon. I heard this scores under Blauw so I have low expectations.
Having had jonge lambiek,oude lambiek, oude geuze and VERY oude geuze from Armand, I’d say the sweet spot is 5 years in the bottle. Some might disagree with me. There is a VERY noticeable fall-off point at 10 years and recent 3F Oude Gueuze bottlings have a 10 year best-by date and I fully agree with this. Lots of Gueuze will last decades but I think 3F’s blends should be consumed mid-way through to the best buy date to around 7 years after bottling. After that, it’s a big gambit.
Versus Cantillon, which I think their Gueuze should not be consumed fresh. It needs a lot of time (3 years minimum before it starts to shine) and that goes for Lou Pepe as well. I do not like Cantillon Gueuze young and have been at 3 blind tastings now and every time Cantillon scores in the bottom 20% for my taste buds. Armand’s blends general score 1st followed by Tilquin, Marriage Parfait and Girardin Black Label.
I would say almost every single Armand blend fresh has been fantastic. Very rarely do they get HUGELY better over time. Mostly, they just evolve into something different but still very good. Very few become GREAT with age but some do. Lambic is still the safest bet for best results of cellaring for a very long time but furthermore, best results for cellaring in non-ideal conditions. Temperature swings from 45-70 on a yearly basis are actually okay for Lambic as it wakes up and puts to sleep various bacteria in the bottle. I allow and welcome some cellar temp swings for that reason.
For the future of the 3 fountains brewery in Beersel, I am hopeful. Michael is brewing with Armand and is now a partner for Armand and his wife at the brewery. He has just bottled his first blend of beer (w/ Armand’s overseeing of course) and soon that beer will arrive stateside. They are also back to brewing and fermenting their own Lambic again after the 2008 accident that caused so much of Armand’s Lambic to be lost. While I’m not a fan of their Kriek, Schaerbeek Kriek from 3F on the other hand is a different story. Not as great as Lou Pepe Kriek but still fantastic and worth lining up for (if Belgians lined up for beer that is).
I continue to order a quarterly box of 750ML 3F Oude Gueuze from Belgium and arrange trades for older things in Belgium. Easily my favorite producer of blended Lambic.
AdamJackson (2534) – Enfield, New Hampshire, USA – AUG 23, 2014
A – Just a slightly hazy lemony-orange. 2 finger white creamy bubbly head that fades quickly to a thin carbonation line.
S – Nose is very herbal, like a field of wild flowers and a tiny level of brett spice with pepper.White grape and lemon juice.
T – This is quite good! A perfect blend of spice, herb, honey, lemon, orange rind and acidic tartness but very soft. There’s a lot of flavor here. Finish has a touch of vanilla and graham cracker.
M – Nice mouthfeel, bottle conditioning, crisp dry finish.
O – This is a really great beer. I like it considerably more than the initial base. The tartness is controlled and the flavors mellowed and well blended with the time in oak. Wish I had more.
The Summer Crooked Stave Cellar Reserve 2014 beers are out. I bought a few and decided to crack them just a day after receiving the package. Premature but I like getting these reviews in and seeing if I should sit on the bottles for a while. I think the Petite Sour beers should be enjoyed within the year and the Nightmare on Brett could last a bit longer.
Crooked Stave Blueberry Petite Sour
AdamJackson (2534) – Enfield, New Hampshire, USA – AUG 23, 2014
A – Beautiful color as with all blueberry beers, pink reddish hues, 1 finger carb that fades fast.
S – The nose is gorgeous. Bright, juicy with floral notes, honey dew melon and a nice juiciness. As with most blueberry beers, there’s an earthiness to it. Very mild tart acidity.
T – This is a very mild beer. Weak start, nice lemon tartness w/ a balanced acidity at the middle and the finish is all blueberry. Great taste..no element is overpowering.
M – Crisp seltzer water carbonation sort of like one of those juice sodas from Pellegrino.
O – Nice beer, extremely drinkable and great on a hot day!
Crooked Stave Nightmare on Brett (Port)
AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 16/20
AdamJackson (2534) – Enfield, New Hampshire, USA – AUG 23, 2014
A – Pours nearly black out of the bottle, pitch black with a reddish hue on the glass. 2 finger sticky espresso head which fades slowly to some sticky ring.
S – Nose is very nice! Big grape, raspberry tart dry oaky aroma. Smells just wonderful. There’s a touch of roast…like a Port Barrel Tart of Darkness
T – This is a nice beer. Start tart and sweet with a lot of oak. Middle is merlot grape, oak and obvious sweet port. Roasted burnt wood and some olive brine at the finish. Port then sticks around for quite a while.
M – sweet,. oily and boozy.
O – This is fantastic. Not as good as the Nightmare Grand Cru but it’s up there!
Crooked Stave Passion Fruit Petite Sour
AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 14/20
AdamJackson (2534) – Enfield, New Hampshire, USA – AUG 23, 2014
A – Very hazy yellow, 1 finger white creamy head that fades slowly.
S – Nose is nice. Mango, lemon meringue, sugary sweet and an earthy mulch undertone.
T – Wow, that’s nice. Great level of acidity, no thinness at all with a delicate light fruit presence. Maybe a touch of peach and pineapple.
M – Sparkling water and very dry.
O – This is a nice beer. Could drink a lot of this but wish it was a touch more fruity.
This guy does fantastic work! He can leave a comment below if he wants people to reach out to him but I basically met this guy through Reddit and he also happens to read this blog. I sent him 5 empty bottles and 1 that had beer in it and he spent about 3 weeks making these into candles.
I paid $20 + shipping and each candle smells uniquely different. The glass cutting was top notch and I’ll totally be using him next year for more projects most likely with more on-off Lambic and Hill Farmstead bottles as the glass it top-quality (his words, not mine)
Here are a few photos:
AdamJackson (2522) – Enfield, New Hampshire, USA – AUG 20, 2014
A – Small cap wisp. 1 finger head. Fades slow. Beautiful color, just a dark purple. Really nice.
S – Nose is slightly tart with raspberry and cherry and a touch of pineapple
T – Taste. Well the finish is ultra tart. Start is sweet oaky bourbon and vanilla, middle the acidic tartness hits but it’s balanced with the boozy old ale. It’s interesting. Maybe too acidic
M – Mouthfeel is nice. Oily but full bodied
O – The longer this beer sat, the better it tasted. It’s not blowing minds but it is is a solid beer.
AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 17/20
AdamJackson (2522) – Enfield, New Hampshire, USA – AUG 15, 2014
A – First pour was a burnt dark orange / gold appearance. The cork had a HUGE pop exploding but not gushing. GREAT SIGN! First pour was a 5 finger solid white huge bubbly head. Subsequent pours got more cloudy obviously. Dregs were dark brown w/ hints of red.
S – Nose is a mix of blue cheese, cardboard basement musk and funk with a lot of wood, mold and more cheese the 3F funk with lemon nose is there but super subdued. Reminds of the same funky moldy basement funk that I got from Blauw.
T – a know what….taste is pretty freaking awesome. Yes a lot of cardboard and shoe polish. A lot of leather and wood and moldy grapes. But it’s incredibly tart and well done. Lots of lemon, cloth aged old cheddar and funk classic 3 F. Tart overall.
M – Bursting classic 3F mouthfeel. Bubbly, filling and huge.
O – Great beer. Like all 10+ year old Gueuze, it’s not wonderful as super fresh stuff but it’s still fantastic. I’m happy having had the chance to try this delicious beer.
AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 15/20
AdamJackson (2515) – Enfield, New Hampshire, USA – AUG 13, 2014
S – Nose starts with a juicy citrus aroma. There’s a slight herbal nose, ocean spray and grassy.
T – Taste is great. Very clean single IPA, juicy almost tangerine rind acidity with juicy grapefruit, and more of those herbal notes. Certainly you do pick up some salt but it’s not overpowering. it is salty but not intense.
M – Classic Hill Farmstead mouthfeel. Full body, hint of mineral water texture and leaves a bit of citrus with it after you drink.
O – This is another hard to rate beer. I like it a lot but for reasons I can’t really say for sure. It is very good and I look forward to getting more of it! Just wish it were easier to describe in the review. Luc and Shaun coming together always leads to great beer.
After keeping this ales on-site for some time, I think it’s time to move to a safer location. I have a few friends in the area with very cold cellars away from light and disturbances and most of all, safe so I’m going to move my beer soon and thought I’d take a final pic before this all gets moved off-site to age for a few years.
I’ll keep the 250+ ales in locked cabinets onsite, mostly Imperial Stouts, American Wild Ales and Saisons on-site to drink from. Most of what you see here is being moved.
Thanks Photoshop for PhotoMerge capability:
I brewed 6 wild ales last year and now that 4 kegs are freed up, I decided to transfer some out of the carboy and into kegs. I like conditioning kegs without force-carbonation so letting the wild yeast continue to work for the next few months creates a carbonation similar to bottle conditioned wild ales from my favorite breweries.
Of all of the beers I transferred, the Russian River Consecration clone is the only one that needs a few more months. It’s been 12 months since brewing and I think it could use 6-9 months of more time. As for the rest of the beers, Tart of Darkness was my favorite followed by a Rye Berliner Weisse.
I snapped a few photos of the progress while transferring today:
I posted the Consecration clone last because the amount of yeast-cake on this beer is incredible! Huge yeast cake and very impressive.
A reader of this site made some candles for me. Obviously, I’m paying him for these but I sent some empty bottles + a full bottle of beer to a guy in So-Cal or made candles out of the bottles using wax scents that matched the characteristics of the beers inside.
I’ll get these in a few days and, with his permission, I’ll promote where you can get some yourself. These came out really good…almost too pretty to burn these I look forward to doing business with him again.
Filed under home-brew as it’s loosely home-brew related
It was in 2012 that I drove down to Southern NH and picked up a used kegerator from a guy on Craigslist. It was an old fridge that used way more electricity than it should have and the setup wasn’t ideal for a strict keg-only setup since it was a fridge & freezer combo. Getting to kegs was difficult and it was hard to manage all of the hoses and CO2 tank and finally, cleaning it was a challenge. Oh and one of the painful things about the fridge was that I couldn’t store bottles in there for consumption which wasn’t a big deal as my kitchen fridge was large but after moving, it suddenly was quite important to me because my new house fridge is half the size of my old one with no room to expand it.
Here are the priorities when it came to building a new Kegerator / Keezer:
- Fridge must be new and very low-cost to operate w/ EnergyStar rating
- There must be room to store bottles / growlers
- I wanted room to store 5 kegs (4 serving and 1 carbonating)
- It must look nice and be easy to get to kegs & clean the lines / perform maintenance
For the fridge, I bought a Danby Model # DCFM246WDD 8.7 cu. ft. Chest Freezer from Home Depot. It shipped for free and was large enough to hold 6 Corny kegs + the hump where the compressor is located could hold a few bottles + growlers. It’s at the very low end for energy consumption of freezers this size @ $28 a year operating cost.
To control the temperature of the freezer, I wanted to get something reliable. There’s nothing worse than a temp-controller going on the fritz and freezing all of your beer which happens to brewers a lot! For this I got the Johnson Digital Temperature Controller Wired (FE611).The price was in line with my budget and I’ve used a lot of JC equipment in the past so the brand is trusted. I set this at 45 degrees and it keeps temperature extremely well!
Another benefit to not letting the freezer freeze is that I’m saving money over the estimated electricity costs. It comes on 4 times a day for 20 minutes each at the current temp. I’ve experimented with 50F and 40F temps and haven’t noticed a change in consumption that drastic. I did notice the colder the temp, the more condensation build up there is.
Taps, I replaced the aging Chrome taps that came with my old kegerator and upgraded to Perlick Stainless Creamer Faucet – Model 575 which has a nice feature of pushing the tap handle back instead of forward for a creamier head. I use this when pouring my huge Imperial Stout home-brew or Bourbon County kegs which don’t usually have a lot of carbonation. I also replaced the chrome shanks in the old unit with Stainless Steel Beer Faucet Shank – 4” x 1/4″ bore.
For the faucet mounting, I purchased 2×6 untreated pine and made a rectangle around the unit. I removed the lid and attached it to the wood and then used a 1” insulation board to cover the interior of the wood to hopefully hold in some of the cold. Pretty simple build overall. Here are a few photos:
Final placement in the house & Tap-Handles. Also notice this really comes in handy for beer storage due to my small fridge.
- Deluxe Drip Tray – 13″ Wall Mount
- Bottle Opener – Starr Wall Mount
- SuperFlex Beverage Tubing (3/16″ ID) – By the Foot
- Replacement flange connectors, nuts, bolts and full keg rebuilds of all of my corny kegs from dip-tubes to sealers and such.
- I also rebuilt my Dual CO2 regulator to stop a leak and re-did all tubing for Gas & liquid serving w/ a lot of Star-San sanitizer
Note: I completed this build in May but have been waiting for my tap handles to arrive which were crafted by Darren Hill at Leaning Maples Woodcraft in Greensboro, Vermont. He’s made some other house-hold items for me and I asked him to help out with custom handles. They have chalk board paint for writing the beer on tap on each handle.
All you review now is Hill Farmstead and Crooked Stave! Said one of my readers via email. Yeah and call it laziness or complain about homerism or the fact that this blog has gone down hill but honestly I drink mostly local beers now or stuff I buy via reserve societies. Therefore, you’re mostly going to see posts about Hill Farmstead, Bruery or Crooked Stave. Although, I’ll add that I did just recently do 2 trades, one for some De Garde beers and another for some Jester King. I’ll be reviewing those soon so I promise the quality here is gonna get better soon….let’s tear into Vermont Flabaer..splitting 500ML bottles 4 ways like a boss.
AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 15/20
AdamJackson (2380) – Enfield, New Hampshire, USA – JUN 8, 2014
Leaves a long lasting taste in my mouth. Grabbed a single bottle at HFS last week. Split 4 ways with some local friends. Could have solo’d this one.
A – Totally purple lovely beauty. 1 finger white head with pink hues that’s fades to a thin line. Some blueberry chunks.
S – Nose is bright and fruity. Lots of tart and a touch of acidic.
T – Sticky chewy mouthfeel. Sticks to the teeth a bit very jammy but not at all sweet. Tannic oaky grape skin and pineapple. Blueberry is really strong.
M – lingering blueberry, full carbonation, almost velvety.
O – Great beer. I still prefer regular Flora but this is a nice fresh take on the beer and one I look forward to trying again.
AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 16/20
AdamJackson (2380) – Enfield, New Hampshire, USA – JUL 19, 2014
S – Nose is nice. Very floral, hibiscus or elderflower. A little peppery with a nice sweet honey & oak.
T – Great taste. Thin at first but a great sweet, wheat forward oaky nice explosion of flavors. Finish is tart. I can see this one improving.
M – Dry and chewy mouthfeel
O – This is a great beer. I don’t know why I’m getting lemon/lime tastes but it’s a good beer. I am certain this will improve with time. Delicious now.
I’m an idiot when it comes to beer and especially toward Lambic but the same goes for most of us and some of the same questions come up at tastings…almost every single tasting. Here are some misconceptions I’ve seen over the last 6 months.
- Only Lambic from Cantillon, 3 Fonteinen and Tilquin is worth buying
- Cantillon “Organic Gueuze”, “100% Lambic Bio” or “Classic Gueuze” are all different beers
- Everything from Boon, Timmermans, Mort Subite and Hanssens is not worth buying (sweetened and fake flavored or not real Lambic)
I may be stupid but at least I can help with clarifying some of these. Keep in mind Lambic Rumors change every time you hear them. These sort of things change all of the time. So keep that in mind. I’m trying to give factual set in stone info here based on traveling and reading. I’m sure the Lambic Lovers will comment below if I get something wrong.
Cantillon only uses the Lambic they brew for their Gueuze. Tilquin and 3 Fonteinen (Drie) use Lambic from other breweries. Specifically Boon & Lindemans go into 3 Fonteinen Gueuze and Tilquin is the only Gueuzerie that uses those 2 producers’ Lambic + Lambic from Cantillon (not a lot, by the way as Cantillon is one of the smallest components of Tilquin Gueuze and I believe getting smaller every season)
So when you say Lindeman’s and Boon have crappy Lambic…keep in mind the best Oude Gueuze on the market now (3 Fonteinen) uses their Lambic. The highest rated beers on RateBeer in Gueuze Blauw, Roze, etc use Lindeman’s lambic. It’s more about the blender’s talents than the juice itself.
Michael, a new partner of Armand’s (3 Fonteinen) is learning what makes a 3F Oude Gueuze what it is. He’ll be taking over 3F when Armand finally retires. I’ve heard from multiple people the Gueuze hitting shelves this fall will be Michael’s blends, not Armand’s but Armand is obviously still very involved.
Tilquin does not brew it’s own Lambic yet. 3 Fonteinen just started in December 2012 so within the next year, 3F Oude Gueuze will finally have their own Lambic in it for the first time since I think 2008. Someone correct me there, please.
What’s the difference between Cantillon Classic Gueuze (yellow label) and 100% Lambic Bio? Nothing. They’re exactly the same. Cantillon’s Gueuze that’s sold in the European Union meets the requirements to be classified as Bio-Organic. In the US, it does not so they use a different label here. They’re the same beer. I’ve heard people actually say that 100% Lambic Bio tastes better than Classic Gueuze. That’s impossible.
Most people that think anything that’s not 3F, Tilquin and Cantillon Lambic isn’t worth buying. Untrue but in a lot of ways, I can understand why they think that. Most Lambic is sweetened with syrupy candy flavorings, force carbonated and mixed with various juices to appeal to a broader audience. On my first visit to Belgium I ordered Kriek Max, a Lindeman’s product in a bar. It tasted terrible and all of the men around me laughed because “Only women drink Kriek” which is true. It’s a drink for girls who don’t like “men’s beer”. Just like Bud Light drinkers in America, women drink flavored wine coolers and real men drinking Bud Light. The non-beer geek of Belgium doesn’t know real lambic exists…they only know that Kriek is for girls and in a lot of ways, they’re right.
We don’t have Kriek Max in USA but we do have Boon Kriek and Framboise and Hanssens has a lot of various flavored lambic. You can guy crappy Timmermans Pumpkin Lambicus and stuff like that and quickly realize that everything except for 3F, Tilquin and Cantillon sucks.
But you’re wrong.
The terms Oude Gueuze & Oude Kriek, within the European Union are protected under law. If you call your product this, you’ll need to meet some basic criteria. Boon Oude Kriek for example is nothing like Boon Kriek. Same for Mort Subite, Lindeman’s, Timmermans and Hanssens. All of these producers have crappy sweetened Lambic and most of them have a Kriek / Gueuze product(s) that are made the traditional way and they’re all quite good, drinkable, on shelves all over Belgium and much cheaper than Tilquin, 3 Fonteinen and Cantillon.
So if you see something called Oude Gueuze on a shelf, grab it and be amazed at how good it is. Cantillon’s gueuze actually scores dead last on my favorite in-production gueuze…actually i take that back. Moriau Gueuze is actually the worst. It’s a Boon product and it’s pretty bad.
In summary, don’t write off a Lambic maker because their non Oude products are bad. They’re supposed to appeal to people who like fruity sweet candy beers and that’s okay. Also, keep in mind that the best gueuze in the world uses Lambic from these supposed “crappy lambic makers”
One of the most enlightening moments for me when talking about Quality Lambic versus Quality Blending & care of Lambic (transfer, storage, aging, blending, carbonation) is at the Weekend of Spontaneous Fermentation back in 2012. I got to try unblended Lambic from 12+ different producers. I’ve tried a few more since then but I was amazed at how great the Lambic was from some producers who don’t have that great of Oude Gueuze. Basically, the unblended is better than the final production blend. Why is this? The human element of creating Gueuze from Unblended Lambic is the failure point.
Looking at my own ratings of Unblended Lambic
You’ll see Timmermans, Mort Subite, Girardin and Cantillon score pretty highly. I’d probably rate Lindeman and Boon a bit higher now that I’ve had them a few times. These ratings are BS though because every single batch of Lambic during the brewing season (Winter time when it is below 40 degrees Fahrenheit) is different. Microbial effects, temperature, cooling time, the barrels used and many more variables. I’ve sampled from 5 different Cantillon barrels of Jonge Lambiek and each taste different. You’d need to sample hundreds of barrels from every producer to truly rate unblended Lambic..that’s my opinion, though. But this only reinforces my point that you can have a fantastic barrel of Lambic or a crappy one and the blender can make it to match the brewery’s profile. The human element is critical. So with time as brewers retire, things change, climate changes, brewery expands / moves to a new location and even things like different barrel producers change, the lambic and gueuze will change. This makes rating these bottles so difficult. Ideally, there’s a unique entry for every single bottle date of every single Lambic / Gueuze / Kriek from every producer.
That’ll never happen though.
I passed 1100 words so I should probably stop writing but I’ll try to do more posts like this as I find time. I think the discussions around what constitutes as Good Lambic is important. HORALs is doing a good job in a lot of ways but not so good in other ways and I think that’s another conversation entirely. Also, I didn’t proofread this one. So there are typos.
AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL19/20
AdamJackson (2289) – Enfield, New Hampshire, USA – JUN 15, 2014
M – A mouthfeel that is thick and full of bubbly sparkling wine and the tartness resembled raspberry and honey. I don’t know what buckwheat tastes like but I would imagine the minor haze and chewy effervescent is due to that.
O – This s super drinkable! Really delicious and I’m glad I have a few of these to enjoy over the next year or so! Great work Blaugies and Hill Farmstead.
AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL14/20
AdamJackson (2348) – Enfield, New Hampshire, USA – JUL 11, 2014
S – The nose is fantastic. Smells like Cherry Cola, a faint bourbon back-end with funky leather brett and caramelized malts from a long boil or extended oak aging. Very similar nose to some of the darker wild ales from Crooked Stave.
T – Taste is incredibly difficult to pin-point. It is certainly and undeniably an old ale but the brett and other wild yeasts really do strange things I mean maybe in a good way? If the description wasn’t that they intentionally added micro-flora, I’d think infection because I’ve never had an Old Ale that intentionally received that funky goodness. A lot of sweet, a lot of sour / funk with leather and raw sorghum with tobacco. Funky in a dominating way, some clove and spice. Finish is an oaky port wine tannic w/ obviously more funk.
M – Fantastic bottle conditioned mouthfeel. Dry and not too sweet finish
O – This is hard to rate. I like it certainly could drink a lot of it but the American in me that wants to categorize what this is…it’s so hard. I love Old Ales!!! but I’ve never had one with this much funk presence. I could drink a lot of this. My mind is telling me no…but my body, my body is telling me yes.
Thanks to my buddy, Fuj for bringing all of us together for this awesome Lambic tasting. There were 10 of us and I was added to the group last minute when another participant couldn’t make it. Albany is 3 hours away from me so I got up at 9AM and arrived around 1PM @ Fuj’s and we wrapped up the tasting around 11:30PM which was great. I left and was home around 2:30AM.
Everyone brought a minimum of 75 ounces of Lambic, we tried to eliminate overlap and every 375ML had to be doubled up so there was enough for everyone of every thing we were pouring. I especially liked that we had a Fou Foune 2013 and 2011 side by side and a Belgian & Shelton Brothers bottling of 2009 Lou Pepe Gueuze. Overall, it was a great time.
Highlights were the Schaerbeek cherry lambic side by side comparisons and as always, Armand’s Oude Gueuze kicked ass over every other gueuze we opened that evening. Always a winner in my book.
Now for some photos: More are on Flickr – https://www.flickr.com/photos/adamjackson/
The fridge before the madness began
Solid line-up from the evening
Upland Sour Reserve Batch 3
2 Trillium Shirts
Many pounds of meat, charcuterie and 125 hot wings
2008 Schaerbeek Kriek from 3F
2012 Schaerbeek Kriek from Hannsens
Timmerman’s Oude Kriek w/ Schaerbeek cherries
2009 Lou Pepe Kriek w/ Schaerbeek cherries
Lou Pepe Gueuze
Lou Pepe Framboise
We made our own Friendship Blend using equal parts of Cantillon Classic Gueuze, Batch 6 Beatification and Coolship Resurgasm
We got a 10 liter bag of Girardin Oude Lambiek
2013 Lambickx Kriek
Fuj emulsified some raspberries in the Girardin Lambiek for flip-cup
2013 and 2011 Cantillon Fou Foune
De Cam Kriek Lambiek 2009
De Cam Framboise Lambiek 2009
2013 Mega Blend. I was hoping we could do a 2009 and 2011 as well as those have aged really well but 2013 is just too new right now…
Intense Red is far better than it was a year ago. A lot less cough syrup like
This is the 2013 Quetsche tilquin. Still tasting great!!!
This was a great tasting. I checked my Untappd Check-Ins today. Wow, lots of of toasts. Holy crap.