Friday, September 29, 2017

Beautiful Things: De Troch Oude Kriek.

Surprisingly dark in color, deep like burgundy or blood, absolutely plump with fleshy cherry, under-girded by the rustic funk of proper lambic. Redolent of lemon, cherry, almond, amaretto -- those from the cherries -- and oak, musty old bookshop, dusty old stable -- those from the lambic. Sourish but not puckering, its acidity checked by lush cherry, drying out to a lingering fruity-vinegar tang.

An astounding beer.

If that doesn't surprise you as much as it surprised me, I should explain: Two of the worst drinks I've ever experienced came from that old lambic brewery known as De Troch.

One of them would be Chapeau Banana. It tastes to me like soda pop made from candy made from banana essence made from -- somewhere farther down the line, perhaps -- actual bananas, badly overripe. You should try it! What an experience.

The other would be De Troch's actual unblended lambic poured from casks at the brewery. This was a decade ago as part of the Toer de Geuze. This young-ish amber liquid was either badly flawed or simply in those awkward stages of metamorphosis where one should never, ever walk in on what's happening. It reeked badly of cooked, rotting vegetables. (In retrospect, the smell might have been mercaptan, a nasty compound produced by some anaerobic bacteria.) 

I've talked to enough lambic brewers, blenders, enthusiasts and know-it-alls over the years to realize, eventually, that I was unlucky (in the second instance). Most of them regard the base lambic at De Troch pretty highly these days, even if they look the other way with the jokey fruit beers.

Even so, I can't help but take it with a fat grain of salt whenever people praise the more austere, traditional 'Oude' beers coming out of Wambeek -- the Chapeau Cuvée, a.k.a. De Troch Oude Gueuze, and the De Troch Oude Kriek, the latter of which re-appeared in 2015 after nudging from U.S. importers. It says '2014' on the bottle because that's when they brewed the base lambic.

Anyway, I grabbed a bottle at Dranken Geers last month. Popped it open a few nights ago. Some like to sit on their fruit lambics a while and see how they evolve. I say, drink 'em if you got 'em.