Vanderghinste Oud Bruin

Vanderghinste_Oud_BruinBrewer: Bockor Brewery, Belgium
Style: Flanders Brown
Alc/Vol: 5.5%

Description: Established in 1892 in the village of Bellegem in the West Flanders region of Belgium, the Bockor Brewery has a long history of small batch brewing according to traditional recipes. Their Oud Bruin (Flemish for “Old Brown”) is the result of blending a wheat and barley ale with a lambic beer aged in oak for 18 months, resulting in this specific style of West Flanders Brown beer.

Tasting Notes: Admittedly, this Bruin was both consistent and different with what I’ve come to expect from a Flanders Brown. In addition to boasting some serious tartness and acidity, it also had a sweet and sour quality that put me in mind of apple-cider vinegar. And of course, there was the noticeable yeasts, which gave it an effervescent quality, also reminiscent of cider. But of course, this little village’s take on the Bruin is certainly different from what I’m used to, so some divergence is to be expected.

Appearance: Dark brown, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Roasted malt, lactic acid, hints of balsamic apple-cider vinegar
Taste: Cider-like sweetness and effervescence, giving way to sour and acidic notes
Aftertaste: Lingering apple-cider vinegar and lactic acid
Overall: 8/10

Cantillon Kriek 100% Lambic Bio

Cantillon_kriek-500x500Brewer: Cantillon Brewery, Brussels, Belgium
Style: Kriek Lambic
Alc/Vol: 5%

Description: The Cantillon Brewery is a family business run by the Van Roy-Cantillons of Belgium. Committed to producing traditional Lambics, Krieks, Guezes and other traditional Belgian beers. Much like all Krieks, the beer is made using a Lambic base and then infused with sour Morello cherries, bottle-fermented, and then aged for three to five months to achieve perfect saturation.

Tasting Notes: This beer was a fitting and faithful example of a Kriek. The nose and flavor were packed with sour cherries, discernible sour yeasts, and some serious oaky flavor. For many, the potent, tart flavor might be a bit off-putting or overwhelming, but I’ve always been a fan. The rich aroma and flavor are intoxicating, exciting, and linger on the palate for some time afterwards.

Appearance: Deep burgundy, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Strong cherry notes, tartness, rich oak, lactic acid and yeast
Taste: Immediate burst of sour cherry, tartness, wild yeast and oak flavor
Aftertaste: Long lingering sourness and cherry flavor
Overall: 9.5/10

Driftwood Lustrum Wild Sour

lustrum-logoNot too long ago, I was in the Driftwood Brewery getting a growler filled. And as is my custom, I asked them if they had anything planned for their Bird of Prey series this fall. With their three previous installments – the Flanders Red, Mad Bruin, and Belle Royale sours – they had been knocking it out of the park, as far as I was concerned, and inspired me to love a style of beer that I was previously unacquainted with. So naturally, I was curious if there would be a fourth. I was told that they might be, but that was not yet decided. The helpful tap girl also indicated that since they had an anniversary coming up, they were planning on doing something special for that.

And as it turns out, they killed two birds with one stone and chose to tackle both with a single beer – the Lustrum Wild Sour Anniversay Ale. This beer not only commemorates their five year anniversary of brewing here in the Victoria region, it also counts as their fourth installment in the Bird of Prey series, a series that honors a style that is rarely seen these days outside of the Belgium and northern France. And in accordance with that tradition, this beer was fermented using wild yeast strains that cause lactic acid to form, giving it a tart, sour taste, and then aged a full year in oak barrels before being made available to the public. In addition, this beer features a hefty dose of blackcurrants, not unlike their Belle Royale which boasted sour cherries.

Appearance: Deep purple, purple head, almost opaque, very good foam retention and good carbonation
Nose: Strong notes of lactic acid and spicy yeast, fruit tartness
Taste: Immediate berry sweetness, tang, strong sour notes, mild bitterness and sour finish
Aftertaste: Lingering bitterness, tartness and sour flavor
Overall: 9.5/10

I should also mention that the man at my favorite liquor store told me that this was his favorite beer in the Bird of Prey series. Personally, that’s a hard choice for me to make, given that all the others scored a minimum of 95% on my rating scale. But I’d say this was not the best of the series (toss up between the Red and the Belle), but it is without a doubt one of the best beers I’ve had so far this year. Much like its predecessors, it has a smooth, velvety texture, a spicy, tart and sour flavor, a very rich and multifaceted palate, and a strong alcoholic punch (9% alc/vol) that doesn’t overpower the taste at all.

Happy 5th anniversary Driftwood! Keep doing what you’re doing, and don’t be afraid to notify me in advance of any more Bird of Prey beers. I will be buying in bulk 😉