Lambic Fruit Beer – Belgian: Cantillon Rosé De Gambrinus

This mid-week beer is from the Highly Rated Belgian Brewery Cantillon. Given the little bit of warmer Spring weather we’ve been having, this beer has been perfect! I’ve always enjoyed Sour beers and IPA’s in hot weather, and as Cantillon know how to make a good sour I chose this particular one.

Let’s start with Cantillon‘s description of the beer:

Kriek certainly already existed in the beginning of the 19th century. It is, however, more difficult to determine when the Framboise-Lambic appeared in the Brussels pubs.
Rosé de Gambrinus

Anyway, the beer certainly was available in the beginning of the 20th century. Paul Cantillon mentions a higher number of bottles of Framboise than of Kriek in his inventory for 1909-1910. During the First World War, the fruit beers disappear from the inventory. From 1922 on, the Kriek will be produced again on a regular basis. As for the Framboise, it was produced for a short time in the thirties and disappeared from the inventory afterwards.

In 1973, a friend of mine, Willy Gigounon, deliverded 150 kgs of raspberries at the brewery. The production of raspberry beers started again 40 years later.

I was preparing a barrel of raspberry beer. The beer coming out of the small hole in the middle of the stave was marvelous.
Rosé de Gambrinus

“It has the colour of onion skin”, said a voice behind me.
It was Raymond Coumans.
He was admiring the colour of the raspberry lambic reflecting in the red copper of the buckets used to empty the barrels. At that time (1986), “Raspberry-Lambic” already was synonymous with a sweet, artificially flavoured beer. This is why we decided to distinguish our beer from the other raspberry beers. Raymond proposed to call it a rosé, dedicated not to Bacchus but to Gambrinus.

The process to make this beer is identical to the one to make Kriek. When young, the Rosé de Gambrinus will still present its full fruity taste. Later on, the lambic taste will become dominant at the expense of the fruit taste.

A very long description from Cantillon, but I like how it gives you the History of the Beer as well as a little bit about the Brewery. Cantillon always seem to leave you to taste and experience the beer yourself, as Lambic doesn’t really taste the same as a lot of other styles, but there’s the hint at Raspberry flavours in the description. I think the same information could come across in a shorter description for lazy readers, but this isn’t a beer I’d recommend for first time beer drinkers.

The recipe for this one is quite simple, but it’s the method that makes this beer taste how it does. The Malts in this beer are 2-Row and Malted Wheat. After this, Three year old dried Styrian Golding hops are used. It is then sent to a room in the brewery to ferment in the open air in a Coolship, meaning it gets infected with natural yeasts and bacteria in the Brussels air. After this, it’s aged in Barrels for two years, and then Raspberries are added for a further year. This means all of the sugar is fermented out of the beer, making it Sour and Tart.

When you pour this beer, it’s a deep red colour with a large pink head which dissipates quickly until a thin ring around the edges of the glass is left. On the nose, a huge wave of Raspberries, a little bit of wheat and barley and some sour Belgian Funk notes. When you taste this beer, you need to bear in mind all of the sugar has been fermented out. Just like the initial taste, a big hit of Sour Raspberries, followed by some sour and tart Brett (Belgian Funk) notes finishing with some Wheat and Malted Barley and Bready Notes. The beer is Medium Bodied and quite Highly Carbonated. It finishes like a dry white wine. I really do recommend this beer, especially if Sours are your thing! In good weather they’re most definitely a treat.

You can buy Rosé De Gambrinus in the UK Online at (all in stock at time of writing):

Beer Merchants

Beer Hawk

Beer Here

EST. CALORIES: 150   ABV: 5%

Belgian IPA – American: Green Flash Le Freak

This week’s beer is Le Freak, brewed by Green Flash in San Diego. A Belgian IPA at 9.2%, it’s definitely one that can keep you warm during the winter!

Let’s start with Green Flash‘s Description of the Beer:

Le Freak™ is the first-ever hybrid ale of its kind: the convergence of a Belgian-Style Trippel with an American Imperial IPA. Spawned over barstool pontifications between Publican and Brewmaster, this zesty Amarillo dry-hopped, bottle-conditioned marvel entices with fruity Belgian yeast aromatics and a firm, dry finish. Experience a legendary beer phenomenon.

I like this description, Green Flash claim to be the originators of American Brewed Belgian IPA. It also doesn’t give too much away about the beer, apart from the fact Amarillo hops are used to Dry Hop during Fermentation. Belgian beers are notoriously hard to get right, and lets hope Green Flash have!

Apparently, Le Freak uses the recipe for Green Flash’s well known Imperial IPA. The malts in this beer are two row pale barley, Carastan, a British crystal malt to help the beer’s body, mouthfeel and colour and crystal malt. Quite an American mix of malts apart from the Crystal! Next, the hops. Now I know I always say the hops are what makes an IPA, but with this you have the yeast to think about too seeing as it’s a Belgian Style Imperial IPA. Hops are Summit and Nugget, and it is then Dry-Hopped with Amarillo during Fermentation. Sounds like a pretty standard IPA, right? Wrong. This is where Green Flash work their magic, using their house yeast and White Labs Belgian Yeast to ferment the beer together. The Belgian yeast is put in for the first 2 days of Fermentation, then the American House yeast is added 2 days later. It’s then Bottle Conditioned with Fresh Yeast. Triple Fermentation? Yes! And that’s why it’s over 9%! I think this is a great way to make an American/Belgian beer.

When you pour this beer, it’s Amber coloured with a thick white head. It eventually Dissipates to a thinner head, but it is ever present during drinking the beer. It looks like an IPA, so how does it smell? This is where the Belgian Yeast comes into play, with Pepper, Coriander (Cilantro), Banana Bread with some Floral and Citrus aromas in there too. It’s something you definitely want to dive into once you smell the slight Brett notes in the background too. The taste is a lot like the nose, Banana Bread, Coriander, Pepper, Dried Orange Peel, Melon with that West Coast Citrusy IPA finish. This beer really does taste absolutely like a cross between American and Belgian beers! Like a Trippel crossed with a West Coast IPA! The mouthfeel is quite thick, leaving bitterness under the tounge and a sweetness on top of the tounge. Truely a great brew, and something that’s on my list for when I visit San Diego next year!

I really do recommend this beer, whether you’re drinking it in the sun, or snuggled up by the fireplace on a cold Winter’s night.

You can buy Green Flash Le Freak in the UK at:

Beers of Europe

Ales By Mail

The Bottle Shop

Beer Gonzo (IN STOCK AT TIME OF WRITING)

Unfortunately, Green Flash beers are not widely distributed in the UK at the moment, but this is hopefully set to change soon as they have teamed up with a Belgian Brewery!

EST. CALORIES: 276   ABV: 9.2%

Travel: Beer and Food in Barcelona

Seeing as I like heat and this summer has been a bit humid and cloudy, I decided to take a short 3 day break to Barcelona. Apart from fitting loads in seeing the sites, I managed to track down a few very good food/beer places for this blog and this special post is about them. Barcelona really is a beautiful city and I will be going back there at some point!

Kiosko

I stumbled across this place when visiting the Barceloneta area. They do absolutely amazing burgers and you can check out their menu on their website. They have a great selection with Lamb, Pork, Beef and even Vegetarian Burgers. I went for the Chicken burger which was more like an extremely tasty sandwich due to the brown bread choice. The chicken was just breast meat, cut quite thin and then marinaded for 12 hours. The bread was also freshly rolled that morning (the complete sandwich pictured above). It was absolutely incredible and they also made all of the condiments and mayonnaise themselves in the kitchen. I really do recommend this place.  Kiosko has amazing food and sells one of Barcelona’s most popular lagers – Moritz. Whilst this is a lager on a large production and is not considered as craft beer, it rivals Damm’s Estrella which is made across the city which is seriously mass produced and uses adjuncts in it’s lager recipe. This creates something less enjoyable, a tasteless fizzy yellow liquid. More on that later. Although Moritz is produced on a large scale and is not a craft brewery, for a Euro Pale Lager it isn’t too bad. The fact they use Saaz hops in the beer is a great effort and it’s a thousand times better than a lot of the mass produced lagers out there and almost tastes like a Pilsner. Pretty okay in hot weather.

The other local mass produced beers are Damm’s Estrella, which is quite frankly absolutely tasteless and there’s nothing to really write about it apart from it tastes a bit like Carlsberg mixed with Budwieser and to be honest isn’t even really refreshing on a hot day due to it’s extreme fizzyness. Damm also make Damm Lemon, which is like a Radler and to be honest was quite refreshing in 36 Degrees Celcius heat but in a sort of Sprite/Fanta Lemon way and finally, Voll Damm which is their attempt at a Märzen / Oktoberfest beer. In my opinion the beer doesn’t really reflect this style but out of the Damm beers sold everywhere it’s bearable and it actually has a very malty taste. Let’s move on…

Mosquito

Next up is Mosquito, a restaurant that is a fusion of Tapas and Dim-Sum. The menu is great and the staff are really friendly! The dumplings are out of this world, and they have cold and hot choices. The stand outs for me were the Lemon Lime Chicken and the Beef Dumplings. Another definite recommendation from me here! Mosquito also has a huge selection of Craft and Belgian beers with over 200 bottles and 7 taps to choose from.

I ordered a Belgian beer in Mosquito called Caracole Ambrée, as I’d never seen it before and the waitress recommended it. Although I usually write in depth reviews, this is an article about Barcelona’s Beer and Food places I visited, so the reviews will be briefer than usual. Back to the beer – When you pour this beer, be careful as it literally explodes out of the bottle with serious carbonation. It pours an amber colour leaving a thick foam on the sides of the glass as you drink. It really is an inciting looking brew. You can definitely smell the funky belgian yeast which has traces of Strawberries, Bananas but also some Citrusy Hops and a nice sweet malt backbone. This is definitely an outstanding Belgian beer as far as smell goes. It starts with a big alcohol kick, followed by some citrus and a lot of funky Belgian yeast notes – banana, cherries and fruitcake finishing with sweet roasted malts. It really did go down a treat, especially with the food! Good recommendation Mosquito waitress! 

Bier Cab

Last but almost definitely not least, I visited Bier Cab in the Universitat area. Bier Cab is a great Gastropub and I had some absolutely amaing Tapas here. Nachos with Pico de Gallo and Guacamole, Chicken Strips and Potato Cubes with hot sauce and sour cream on top of them. After sharing these, I had a burger which was incredible. Loads of spanish cheese, hot sauce, medium rare burger, pickles and caramalised onions on a freshly baked bun. This was another place that made all their sauces, condiments and everything else.

I had 3 beers whilst in Biercab, To Øl Amass (Oatmeal Stout), Uncommon Brewers Siamese Twin Ale that had been Barrel Aged and Lervig Aktiebryggeri AS Rye IPA. To be honest I was completely spoilt for choice as BierCab has 30 ever changing taps and over 200 bottles (and even Beavertown Cans!) The current tap beers are displayed on a digital screen and when the kegs are changed to a different beer, it comes up on the screen straight away. It really is an experience. I seriously recommend this place as somewhere you cannot miss when visiting Barcelona.

Lervig Rye IPA arrived golden and hazy with a generous head which dissipates slowly leaving some sticky lacing. I could smell the piney hops, toasty sweet Rye and citrus as soon as the beer was put on the table. It really was a fantastic smelling brew and so fresh! The taste starts with some sweet rye, goes into some pine and grassy notes ending with great citrus bitterness, it’s an extremely enjoyable IPA and definitely verges on imperial. I need to try and get this again somehow! Despite the intense flavours, it’s smooth and goes down well hiding the 8.5 percentage but finishes very dry.

Next up was the Barrel Aged version of Siamese Twin ale from Uncommon Brewers, which I’m told was aged in Red Wines and began life as a Dubbel. Arrived an Ox Blood red with a generous head which dissipates to a thin cap that unfortunately left no lacing. There’s a lot going on with the smell of this beer – Red Grape must, red wine, some sweet malts but no hop smell dectectable. When you taste this beer you get an initial hit of brown sugarn then it transforms into Red Wine with some tart flavours and subtle banana on the finish. This one is lightly carbonated and finishes pretty sweet.

Fianlly, To Øl Amass (pictured above). As a stout it arrived black resembling coffee with a thick brown sugar coloured head. Head retention was great and it left a thick coating on the glass.
It smelt very roasty indeed with some coffee notes, burnt sugar, can definitely smell some oat in there too.
When you first drink this beer, you get milky coffee dark roasty flavour followed salted caramel, some sweet oat notes finishing with some piney hop which fades to a fudge taste. This really was dark and complex and in my opinion fantastic! It finished very smooth indeed due to the oats with an almost silky mouth feel, I’m guessing this is heavily hopped although the flavours are very subtle because it finishes very dry.

Barcelona really is a fantastic city, I really do recommend visiting whenever you can. The food is incredible and if you know where to look, the beer is too. If not, there’s always Moritz as a good go to in a beach bar.

Remember this is an extra post guys! Tomorrow I’ll be back to my usual format and be writing about the awesome Dogfish Head Festina Pêche!