A little over one year ago, myself and some other tasters in Chicago gathered for a bit of a bottle share experiment, called Cruisin for a Geuzin. The bottle share was inspired by a few questions. Is Lambic better than great American Wild Ales? In a blind setting, could tasters tell the difference? And of the Lambic available, did hype and reputation really equal better taste?
In a field that included Lou Pepe Gueuze, multiple years of Cantillon classic gueuze, Drie Fonteinen bottles, vintage Cable Car, Duck Duck Geuze, Jester King, New Glarus, and even an Upland, the bottle with the highest average rating was an aged $12 shelf bottle of Lindeman’s Cuvee Rene.
With the first attempt successful, we circled back around one year later to revisit the same concept, this time with Kriek Lambic and Cherry American Wild Ales. To find some level of uniformity, we decided upon the following rules for bottle eligibility
- Beer must include cherries. No specific variety required. No other adjuncts permitted, ie: Cherry+Raspberry, Cherry+Vanilla.
- Style should originate as geuze/lambic or American Wild Ale. Saisons also welcome
- Flanders style, oud bruins, goses, and berliners are not permitted.
- Each submission should be at least 750ml. Submission may be 2x 375s
Each bottle was decanted into a pitcher outside the sight of anyone rating. Each rater logged their rating with a Google Form built for the event, where tasters rated the bottle between 0-5, and could guess from the known bottles in the field, what beer they were drinking.
With that out of the way, here’s the final rankings. Ratings were normalized from the blind ratings from 9 tasters. Tasting took about 5 hours from the first bottle to the finish
Another one for HORAL
Paralleling last years results, an inexpensive bottle of Timmerman’s Oude Kriek Lambicus won, rather decisively. The date on the back was listed as 2013, which I’m uncertain if that’s a brewed date or a bottled date.
The Top 5 was dominated by Lambic including Cantillon Kriek, two bottles of Drie Fonteinen, which scored oddly similar, despite being drank nearly 4 hours apart, the only Scharbeekse cherry variety from Hanssens, and a lone De Garde bottle.
Facts and Observations
- Pour size was about 2oz per person, which left a good amount of beer for resampling, and cuvees after the results we announced
- Total corks that hit the ceiling: 0
- The bottle with the highest secondary value in the field, Kriek du Fermier finished in the top half of the field, behind 5 beers that have been readily found on shelves, at least in Chicago.
- De Garde’s Kriek Premiere faired quite a bit better than The Kriek
- Of the tasters, the highest correctly guessed bottles were 5 total by one person
- Upland Cherry didn’t do as bad as forum commenters would probably have predicted. In fact, one taster even guessed the Upland bottle was a Cantillon Kriek
- One taster correctly identified Belgian or American origin on 22 of 23 bottles, the incorrect guess? Mistaking Upland for a Loon.
- Bottle Count: Belgian- 13, American- 10 (if you include New Belgium’s 50/50 collaboration with Oud Beersel as American)
- Yes, we did create a kings cup of 23 kriek beers. It was absolutely great.