aged beer

A taste of Belgium


Okay, just to let you know, I will be throwing a cat among the craft beer pigeons with this post.

When I was down in Melbourne for the Great Australasian Beer Spectapular, I made damn sure I visited the city’s two great bottle shops.

That would be Purvis Beer and Slowbeer – quite conveniently located on the same street. I did the bulk of my buying at Purvis, because it was opened first. And walking through the beer shelves at Purvis was torture. I’d flown down and baggage space for beer was seriously limited. I kept seeing beers I wanted but knew wouldn’t be coming home with me.

But one I was certain would be going in my bag was a bottle of Cantillon Gueuze (100 per cent lambic bio, no less). Not because I was a fan of the brewery or anything – I didn’t even know where it was. I thought it was French though I now know it’s in Belgium.I picked up that bottle because I’d heard them praised quite a bit. And also heard bottles were insanely hard to find, so I grabbed one when I had the chance.

And I didn’t really like it much at all. There, the cat has been thrown.
For me, beer is all about enjoyment. I’m not going to drink a beer and try and convince myself that I like it because I’ve been told by the assembled beer geekery that I’m supposed to. That said, part of me did try and enjoy this. Part of me really wanted to like Cantillon beers so I could be cool and stuff, so I could namecheck the brewery.

But I just couldn’t. I’ve liked other lambics I’ve tried but this just simply is not one of them. Those other beers, while they have tasted odd at the start, my palate acclimatised and I got used to the flavour. So much so that by the end of the glass, I’ve been picking up other flavour nuances.

That wasn’t the case here. I never got used to this beer – even though I drank the whole damn thing. To me it didn’t taste sour or odd like the other lambics I’d had. Instead, the world I’d use was ‘‘wrong’’ – it just tasted like something had gone wrong in the brewing process.

Sure, it probably hadn’t and was supposed to taste that way, but that didn’t ease my mind. Instead I figured, if any other beer tasted like this I’d claim it as a fault but here it’s supposed to be an attribute.

Whether the dislike of Cantillon marks me out as one of the great unwashed, a craft beer faker, a Johnny come lately or whatever, I’m okay with that. If it means I just need to develop my palate more, then I’m not okay with that. Because that would mean having to drink more of these. Right now, I’d prefer not to.

6 replies »

  1. huh. Maybe… uh. You got a bad bottle… or… were in a stout mood? I’ve… never really heard anyone come this close to saying something bad about Cantillon. No, okay, honestly they CAN be a bit aggressive and it IS a wild fermented beer so there is a bit of palate adjustment needed. Your opinion is respected and hopefully you’ll find other bottles of Cantillon that you DO like. Can you name any sour style beers that you like already?

    • Maybe I did get a bad bottle, maybe I didn’t. But I don’t think it matters because I’m allowed to like whatever I like. I’ve never liked the idea in the beer geek world that there are styles or breweries you simply have to love – or be dismissed as a philistine. I hate “rules” like that. I don’t begrudge people who like this beer from Cantillon, so I figure they shouldn’t begrudge me for not liking it.

      • Oh no begrudging going on here, I simply have honestly never heard anyone say that they didn’t enjoy a Cantillon. But, like I said, it is a funky kinda brew and I’m likely to be biassed because it my favity fav of all. (>.<) I'd rather you be honest about it then lie and secretly dislike MY gushing beer choices.

        To each his/her own, no beer nazi'ing allowed in beer culture!!

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