First my apologies to The Southern Illinois Brewers. I just couldn’t wait till the next meeting to drink this. I did wait as long as I could for as perfect a setting as I could muster. I wanted to make sure before drinking such a legendary beer that I had a clean pallet, no cigars, no beers immediately before, no food lingering around in my mouth, you get the idea. I wanted to be relaxed and in a good mood, as we all know by now that attitude affects perceived enjoyment of a beer. I wasnt completely stingy either I did share with my wife. Enough with my justifications and begging forgiveness.
First acquisition of the bottle was a bit of a surprise. While down at my favorite bottle shop in the area Roof Brothers, read my article on the shop here, knowing I had seen Cantillon there before I decided to ask. The question was met with first a bit of confusion and then a knowing smile. Apparently the staff at Roof Brothers know their beer and were surprised to find someone else that did as well. After being told I was one of the few people that had ever asked about Cantillon, I was told that they only get it in sporadically. Then the light bulb went off over his head.
“Wait a minute.” he replied. “I think we have a bottle in the back.”
He sent one of the other employees to look for it in the back. Sadly he came back empty handed. The gentleman helping me this time went to look himself. Much to my pleasure, this time he came back with a 750ml, yellow labeled, green bottle of Belgian goodness in hand. Cantillon Gueuze was my reward. Gueuze, for those of you that don’t know, is a blended version of different aged lambics from the Cantillon brewery to the brewmasters taste. Being amazed that the price was under $25 for such a rare find I made a few other selections and headed home. Storing the beer for just that right moment.
Needless to say I waited a while. How do you know when the time is right to drink something like this. Then my fear kicked in was I building up such great expectations in my head that this beer, no beer, could ever live up to them? The time finally felt right. Relaxing on vacation in a hotel room with my wife clean glasses in hand. The crown cap was popped. The cork put up a fight it was tight as if guarding the golden greatness inside the bottle but finally surrendered with a “POP”. Pouring the beer revealed a light golden effervescent liquid. Fruity, somewhat funky barn yard aromas wafted from the glass. The first sip actually caught me by surprise. The sourness was actually puckering then a smile hit my face, I love sour beers. I went in for sip two the light lambic funk in the aroma was not to be found in the flavor. Light fruity, grape, peach, sour apple, tart, dry refreshing greatness, would be the best description I can come up with for the flavor. It was slightly champagne like only better. It was great the best sour beer I have ever had. My lack of creative writing can not do this beer justice. The wife and I agreed a bowl of strawberries would have beer perfect to go with this beer. The beer was sniffed and sipped. Flavors and aromas changed slightly as the beer warmed. It was an experience I would love to relive.
I would totally recommend that you ask around trying to find this beer. Ask you good beer store, see if they can get it. Don’t be discouraged, even if they are willing to work with you, it may still be hard to find. Cantillon is only handled by a select few distributors and only made in small limited batches. Keep up the quest and keep up the journey and if sour lambic beers are your thing I guarantee you wont be disappointed. You can read up and tease yourself with all things Cantillon here.