Oude Quetsche Tilquin à l’Ancienne

Oude Quetsche Tilquin à l’Ancienne known simply as Quetsche or Quetsche Tilquin is a rare plum lambic brewed by Gueuzerie Tilquin in Rebecq-Rognon, Belgium is one of the most uncommon lambic beers. Not only is it produced in low quantity but as a plum lambic it has a unique place in the Belgian beer spectrum. Old Quetsche Tilquin is made from the fermentation of a minimum of 250gr of plums by liter of lambic to an ABV of 6.4%. In addition Quetsche is unfiltered, unpasteurized and refermented in the bottle like all lambics should be. Quetsche is one of the rarest beers to be available to beer lovers in Alberta with only 10 cases being imported this past week. I picked my bottle up at Kensington Wine Market where there was a limit of 1 bottle per customer rule. 

Quetsch has a light golden amber body with a hazy appearance. The head is off white and puffs up while and pouring into my glass although it later settles down a bit. The nose is very musty and barnyard-esque with notes of hay and sawdust. A mild fruit aroma on the nose accompanies a mild tart and sour funk. Taking the first sip I note a mild floral flavor with a tart plum and citrus taste. The flavour profile has considerable less must and dust notes that the aroma with a sweeter flavour than most lambic beers. So far I note that Quetsche is incredibly well balanced and although not the sourest or funkiest of lambics a great brew. The plums are not exactly the star of the show here but give enough sweet fruit notes to not blow the balance out of proportion. The only drawback to this beer is that I can’t get any more. 

Grade: 93/100

Price: $13.99

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Cantillon Kriek

In a century old warehouse a few blocks from the bustling Zuid Station (South Station) in Brussels, Belgium lives a true gem of lambic brewing. The small family owned and operated lambic brewery in the Anderlecht area has been in operation since 1900. At current date the Cantillon is in the capable hands of a fourth generation descendent of founder Paul Cantillon. Known best for its Champagne of Brussels – the Gueuze style lambic Cantillon also brews several other lambic styles including kriek or cherry lambic. During a recent visit to Belgium I was privileged enough to tour the brewery and try out 4 styles of lambic beer for a cost far, far cheaper than bottles cost at home.  The brewery was incredibly unique and eyeopening with highlights being the walls upon walls stuffed with barrels and bottles of liquid gold. In addition since lambic involves wild yeast and open vats during fermentation, spiders are revered and protected in the brewing area as a defense against insects and other such things. Cantillon Kriek is a 5% beer produced by blending lambic beer with lambic beer brewed with cherries grown in Belgium.

Unlike many other Belgian beers that are corked, Cantillon beers use a bottle cap instead of a wire cage to hold the cork in place. Opening a bottle of Cantillon not only takes more time and patience but also more reverence for the liquid inside as you are opening a $25 bottle. Popping th ecork out and pouring Cantillon Kriek you notice the cherries instantly with a bright pinkish red body colour and a huge foamy pink head that fizzes itself out quickly. The head caps off at a thin tightly held layer of pink bubbles. The nose seems overbalanced by tart cherries and a big acetic sourness commonplace in Cantillon lambic beers. A bit of a sweetness comes through as I take a few more sniffs although the sourness complicates with a mild sour funkyness entering the mix. The first sip is sweet and tart with juicy cherry nectar bud subsides to a hairy funk and sourness. The balance is lacking despite the heavy cherry presence because of that traditional strong Cantillon sourness. The finish is sour and acidic with a puckering tartness. Overall the cherries are a bit lost in the mix but this is a great lambic with a ton of awesome funky sour flavours and aroma.

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Grade: 93/100

Price: $23.99

Mikkeller SpontanKoppi

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SpontanKoppi from Copenhagen’s Mikkeller is a lambic by style. To be more specific it is actually the Lambic style known as Gueuze with an odd additive; coffee. The Gueuze is a style of beer originating in Belgium brewed in the Lambic style with old hops and as like other Lambics, Gueuze is fermented with wild yeast. Typically Gueuze beers are bone dry, complex, slightly sour and fervently carbonated. Gueuze is often compared to Champagne for their bone dry astringency as well as their complexity. As a matter of fact, Gueuze is often nicknamed the “Champagne of Brussels”. But as to the addition of coffee, I have a few reservations and worries about this unique twist.

Spontankoppi poured a flowly well carbonation bright gold with a thick and densely packed light beige head that leaves a ton of lacing bands on the glass. A beautiful stream of tiny bubbles cascade from the stem of the glass upwards giving a brilliance to the appearance. The nose has a pseudo typical Gueuze style aroma with the typical sour and acetic notes as well as light floral and grassy hop notes. The coffee is completely undetectable for me and perhaps the strong aroma characteristics of the sour funky Gueuze is to blame (perhaps thank) for that. Taking my first and uncertain sip a light sweet fruit note is soon taken by a nice sour funk and a hint of musty wood notes. The finish isn’t predominantly sour and forebearing with acidic notes but a nice lingering funk and woody note fill the aftertaste. A hint of vanilla bean and leafy floral hop notes are barely noticeable amidst the complex flavor profile. The aftertaste while mild has a definite astringent mouthfeel and drys the palate out. Through all the clashing and complex flavor notes in Spontankoppi I am not able to discern the coffee in neither the aroma or the flavor. But maybe that’s a good thing. I’m sure the people of Brussels would have a few things to say about a coffee lambic. As far as Lambics or Gueuze go this is a rather disappointing effort that lacks the sourness and bone dry finish.

Grade: 80/100Price: $10.50