Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Monk's Mad Monday - Cantillon

Last week was the best Monk's Mad Monday ever, a beer event so amazing people in California were saying they should have flown in for it. Tom Peters, the owner of Monk's, put 12 different Cantillon beers (different vintages and such) on tap and said he thought it was the most ever put on at a bar in the US at one time. I can't substantiate that claim so lets just say he's right since it sounds good. Monk's opens at 11:30 and when I got there around 11:10 there was already a crowd at least 40 deep waiting to get into the bar. Lots of people I recognized too although none are in the picture below. The entrance is around that tree in the distance I think.
Twenty minutes later, we all calmly filed into Monk's and, unlike at the Lost Abbey event, people made a line heading into the back bar and were only about three deep instead of seven. Meant I managed to get to the bar in about at most fifteen minutes instead of waiting 45 like last time. Nice job there.

I ordered glasses of Vigneronne '06 and Iris '04 and joined Jared and Kristie (okay still can't spell it) at a table.
On the left is the Vigneronne. Smelled tart and funky, but not too funky. Nice balance. Started sour, tart with some slight funk and tanginess in the finish. Continued that way through the glass, staying between tart and sour without ever going too far. Incredibly good and actually my favorite of day.

The Iris from '04, on the right, was funky with a generous amount of bitterness. Iris is different from the normal Cantillon lambics in that it uses non-aged hops. Normally, the hops in a lambic are merely used for their preservation qualities so they are aged for a few years to remove most of the bitterness and aroma, but with the Iris they change that and use them immediately and also dry hop it. The result is a funky, bitter combination that didn't really work for me but some people really like it. Maybe it's different when it isn't seven years old.

Up next was something I sort of ordered out of peer pressure, the Zwanze '10. I say peer pressure because Tom said it was the only keg to make it into the entire United States so seriously how could I not order a glass?
Very dry, attic like smell. Not super funky, more musty. This reminded me much more of a geuze than the first two with the brett yeast coming to the fore. Very dry flavor, kind of funky with a tannin like bitterness. It didn't taste like wine, but it had the same bitter feeling to me. Apparently, this is a spontaneously fermented witbier and not a lambic or geuze. After knowing that, the flavors make a ton more sense since you get a hint of the the wit under the brett flavors.

Last but not least was the Lou Pepe Kriek, the one and only fruit lambic I had that day. (Actually, this is a lie since I think the Vigneronne was aged on grapes, but it didn't taste like fruit so lets pretend I'm not lying. You probably wouldn't have known anyway if I hadn't told you.)
Nice bright red. I believe the Lou Pepe moniker means it is aged longer than the regular kriek, but don't know for sure. Sweet cherry nose with a hint of vanilla. Slightly sour with some cherry sweetness coming out in the finish. I've only had the regular kriek and thought it was much more sour but maybe my palate may be more used to sour stuff at this point. This one was quite good, though, and a really different way to finish off my meal.

As I said, there were 12 different Cantillon beers available that day and I didn't manage to try 8 of them. Some were just different vintages, but with lambic and geuzes, aging results in many different flavors to appear so vintage matters a lot. Plus blending is less of a science and more an art so different vintages of the same beer are almost different beers anyway. If I didn't have to get back to work, I easily would have stayed all afternoon and just done side by sides of the Fou Foune, Iris, and St. Lamvinus (and probably gotten seconds of everything else), but alas I am not independently wealthy. Maybe some day.

Definitely looking forward to the next Mad Monday at Monk's although Tom is going to have a hard time topping this event in quite some time. Also, miraculously enough, I think I only described one of the beers using tart and sour. I expected all of the descriptions to read the same but some how I got lucky. Or you got lucky since it meant you weren't reading the same thing over and over again.

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