29 October 2012

Not a keeper

My Belgian beer hoard is getting out of control. The problem is they're mostly not casual drinkers: most are beers I want to spend a bit of time with, preferably with a blogging window open in front of me, and that's something I can only be bothered doing on rare occasions. Mostly I just want a beer. So the Belgians build up and I feel guilty about not drinking them. I will, eventually.

Occasionally, however, a beer comes along which cannot simply be put to the back of the queue, a beer that needs to be left in plain sight lest it disappear into the amorphous stash. A beer that would make me feel really bad if I died before drinking it. Such a beer was Girardin 1882 black label. I left it sitting on the kitchen counter for a month before making an advance appointment to drink it.

It's a 100% oude lambic from one of the handful of reputable lambic breweries in greater Brussels. I had been expecting the age to have maybe smoothed it out a little, but not a bit of it: the aroma from the hazy yellowish-orange liquid was eye-wateringly tart, with a mix of old oak and vinegar to get the salivary gland running. On first taste it's massively sour: the acetic throws the first punch while an intense waxy bitterness hold its coat. But the barney is over as soon as it begins and what follows is altogether calmer. There's a comparative smoothness from the oak and even a certain amount of bittersweet nectarine or plum.

You'd want to be fairly content that sour lambic is your kind of thing before tackling this. It's neither mellow nor rounded and retains all the spikiness it doubtless showed in its younger years. But if you're prepared to do things its way there's a fantastic full-on multilayered taste experience to be had.


  1. Sounds interesting, I have a bit of a thing for sours myself, I'll give that a shot if I get a chance. Is it anything like Mariage Parfait?

    1. It's quite a bit sourer than Mariage Parfait, if I'm remembering MP correctly.

    2. Anonymous12:25 am

      For anyone who likes proper lambic, this has to be a truly fabulous beer.