Friday, August 24, 2012

Beer Review: Cantillon Classic Gueuze (2011)

Reviewing the Classic Gueuze from the infamous Brasserie Cantillon out of Belgium.
Score: 95

August 31, 2011 vintage bottle served in a snifter glass and enjoyed on 06/20/12 at the Green Lady.

Appearance: Pours a clean and surprisingly unsedimenty pale/straw yellow color with a thin white ring of head around the glass. Below average lacing and retention compared to most of the beers I usually drink, but the lacing is not bad for a sour. This is a nice and clean looking gueuze. 4/5

Smell: Sweet and sour lemon, evident lactobacillus, vinegar and pepper. Also detecting some wild flower and rose pedal. This beer has a really nice and inviting aroma from which you can almost experience the tartness without sipping. There is no funk either, which is how I like my sours, but that may be because this is a relatively green (fresh) vintage. 4.5/5

Taste: Super tart on the tongue with a nice pucker effect. Candied lemon and lemon juice flavors with a touch of sweet vinegar. Some oak, green apple and grassiness. There is a very subtle residual plastic flavor in the aftertaste that just really seems to fit the flavor profile well. Plastic would not seem like a quality you'd want in a beer's flavor, but for whatever reason I am really digging it here. Incredible refreshing in the 90+ degree heat. As the beer warms up, a little pepper comes out too. 4.5/5

Mouthfeel: Medium-light bodied with carbonation on the higher end of light. The tartness of the beer is really throwing off my sense of carbonation. There is a good amount of pucker here from the sourness, but it is not overpowering. The mouthfeel reminds me of drinking apple juice (albeit sour apple juice). The beer is a bit acidic, but not overly much in single-serving doses (though consuming too much lactobacillus, by say pounding back four of these small bottles, is sure to give one a stomach ache). 4.5/5

Overall: One of my absolute favorite gueuzes, right behind the 3F Oude Gueze. For it's "bar price" and rarity, just stick with the 3F.

Recommendation: For it's "bar price" and rarity, I would recommend sticking with the 3F Oude Gueze. However, if you like gueuzes and sours, I recommend that you seek this beer out. I found Classic Gueuze to be a clean and refreshing enough sour (no real funk) to potentially appeal to slightly more adventurous casual beer drinkers and the "I hate sours" beer geeks (of which I still include myself to date).

Pairings: Gouda cheese (or perhaps even a lemon-crusted aged white cheddar).

Cost: $14 for a 12 oz bottle at the bar, but a 750 ml bottle, if you are lucky enough to find one in a retail store state-side, tends to run $15.

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