26 February 2008

The last of the Belgians from Max's?

Somehow I can't believe this.

If someone had, based on my experience last year with Cantillon beers at the Max's Belgian fest, had suggested that I would be ordering a full serving of the sourest of the sour, Cantillon Vigneronne (a 5.0% lambic whose name supposedly translates to "vinegar"), at my expense, I would have bet them untold sums of money. The last time I had it, for whatever reason, it was WRETCHED. A total abomination of sour stuff, akin to mixing Stella Artois and Japanese rice vinegar, with a dose of apple cider vinegar thrown in for flavor.


Faintly hazy golden, with the color, head, and aroma of good English/Normandy cider.... flavor is almost exactly that, akin to a dry, bracing Normandy cider with a malt backbone. THIS works. Now, why? I suspect that it's a combination of inactivity settling the yeast and anything else that was in solution, and some degree of oxidization working with what's left in the keg to mellow out the flavors. Now, comparing notes with others on this beer, half or more seem to think this is a new, improved version, and that last year's draft may have been "off;" one lambic specialist in this crowd thinks entirely the opposite--that THIS is oxidized and spoiled and that the original was more akin to white muscat grape champagne/brut. I'm still coming back to cider, maybe a touch of riesling grape or scuppernong (and if you know THAT grape, well, go to the head of the class). Now that I mentioned it, I can't get past that damn tannic and "foxy" grape flavor of scuppernong grape. Is it what they were aiming for? Is it spoiled? Who knows? All I know is, I went back for a second of what I formerly considered one of the most "repulsive" beers (if one could have called that malted battery acid I had before "beer") on the planet.

Surely further research is mandated.

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