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Cantillon Cuvée St-Gilloise – Brasserie-Brouwerij Cantillon (2011)

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Cantillon Cuvee Saint Gilloise

BLC Says:
We were lucky enough to come across a bottle of Cantillon Cuvée St-Gilloise at Pizzeria Paradisio while visiting Washington, DC. The bottle was priced at $40 for a 750 ml bottle, which we decided was worth the splurge since the last time we had seen a Cantillon beer we were actually at the brewery in Brussles. Look for a post on that visit coming soon but in the meantime, let’s talk about this beer.

Cantillon Cuvée St-Gilloise is an oak aged, dry-hopped version of the Belgian brewery’s unblended 2-year-aged lambic (being spontaneously fermented). This beer was dry-hopped with noble German Hallertau hops and was bottled in November 2011 with the beer inside being brewed in 2009. FInding a Cantillon bottle was interesting but this brew itself is a slight oddity as unblended lambic beers are rarely served on their own. Traditionally many lambic vintages are blended for a brewery’s gueuze. Yet another odd note is Cuvée St-Gilloise was originally brewed as Cuvée Des Champions in honor of brewmaster and blender Jean Van Roy’s hometown soccer club, Brussels’ Union St. Gilles, winning the Division III championship in 2004. Unfortunately St. Gilles’ performance has been in decline since, and he can no longer dedicate the beer to “Champions” adjusting the name of the brew to Cuvée St-Gilloise. Hey at least the club still has a beer brewed in their honor!

Cuvée St-Gilloise pours a hazy, golden color which is lovely in the glass. The beer produces a nice, rocky, white head which eventually comes to rest as a small foam ring. A web-work of lacing is left behind after each sip. The nose on this brew has an underlying sweet and sour theme with many factors constructing this impression. Lemon zest, wood, pungent yeast and wild flashes are on the sour side while the sweetness comes from an almost candy-like, malt aroma. A “rosemary” impression and herb quality also join the mix upon further scouring. As the scent is strong, so is the taste. The sip has a backbone of sour, funky flavors with a hint of sweetness that swirls around the other flavors. This feels almost like a sour, slightly bitter candy rolling around the mouth with a sweet malty, almost vanilla, interior always beyond reach. A funky, wood accented, tart quality comes in towards the end adding balance, and the sip finishes on a dry note. The aftertaste recalls the sweetness and citrus further helping to keep this brew in harmony. An overall brightness is there throughout the entire experience and the dry hopping worked well with the aged, unblended, lambic beer. Honing their craft since 1900, Cantillon have a success here and we send our well wishes to Brussels’ Union St Gilles. Hopefully this brew will once again be crafted for champions. It certainly tastes as if it were.

What Alicia Thinks:
This is a unique, special occasion beer that I think could appeal to beer drinkers, wine lovers and cider enthusiasts alike. The flavor was diverse and had a perfect balance between sweet and sour. Unlike some other lambics it was not just an explosion of sour tartness with nothing to back it up. On the contrary, it also was not just a sweet, fruit beer that becomes repetitive after half a glass. The funky, almost yogurt like flavor, made this a beer you want to keep drinking because no two sips are exactly alike. I really think  everyone should try this beer, regardless of their favorite styles. You will likely be pleasantly surprised.

What Kevin Thinks:
Cuvée St-Gilloise is a tart, sour, funky, wood kissed and lightly hoppy brew. I really enjoyed the interplay between wood, funk, sour notes and lemony and herby notes on the nose. It was interesting to keep searching for more as I enjoyed this brew. I really liked how the sour, tart and wild flavors seemed to be tumbling around a sweeter, lemon zest spiked middle during the sip. Again I felt tasting this beer really rewarded multiple sips and getting a 750ml bottle never seemed like a better idea. The finish and aftertaste really showed how balance can be achieved even in a crazy beer like this. This was a treat and I feel  lucky to have come across it. For me this is a 9/10.

ABV: 5%   IBU: ?   Color: Hazy Golden   Year: 2011   Brewery: Brasserie-Brouwerij Cantillon

The Brewery Says (from the bottle):
A very special vintage bottling of Cantillon lambics, aged for two years in oak and dry-hopped in the cask. Store and serve at cellar temperature (50-55 F/10-13 C). Do not serve cold! Pour gently (leaving behind the yeast sediment). into a wine glass or traditional Belgian tumbler.

Written by A+K

December 20th, 2012 at 3:21 am

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