18 May 2007

Goosey früht

For some reason kriek gets a bad rap from many serious beer fanatics. I am an unashamed kriek fan, however, and enjoy both the zesty fruity ones (Timmerman's, Liefmans) and the drier, more mature sort (Bellevue, Lou Pepe). Since the cherries are more of an add on (to make geuze more palatable), most kriek-makers also make a variety of other fruit-enhanced beers. Nobody, to my knowledge, does a range quite like Floris. The selection extends beyond fruit into honey, chocolate and cactus(!). Not surprisingly, these aren't all as delicately crafted as the beers of more specialised labels. Floris Kriek, for example, is a super-sweet syrupy kriek. The label boasts that 30% of it is macerated fruit. The underlying beer is rather rougher and fizzier than your typical Belgian lambic, giving the whole product a thrown-together feel. That's not to say it doesn't work as kriek, however: the cherry concentrate makes for a similar sensation to eating cherry pie. Just, if you are planning to reappraise your kriek opinion, don't start with this one.

Which brings me to la pièce de la résistance of the the Beerhall Challenge: Goose Island IPA. Well, it's not an IPA as I understand it, in the English vernacular. It's quite green tasting: hops comes right to the fore of the taste. It arrives via an explosion of fizz and flavour, and lasts right into the aftertaste. English beer has conditioned me to look for a complexity that this Yank doesn't have, but it's a damn good ale, and one you could drink quite a few of without feeling overstretched.

The other new beer from the challenge sheet is Früh, a German kölsch. My only experience of kölsch hitherto is that made by the Porterhouse, which I found just that bit too dry. Früh is better, though. It's dry but more subtly so, allowing more of the malt to come forward. Like the Goose Island, it's not terribly demanding and engineered to make you order another.

The Challenge continues...

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