5% ABV corked-and-caged yo
In Stanley Kubrick’s seminal “2001: A Space Odyssey,”, arguably the greatest picture of all time, the progression of a being is shown to evolve from that of a lower form of ape to an upper tool-using form to a bland earthling to one capable of traversing the galaxy to, finally, one able to break through the gates and become…the starchild. The highest being possible. The odyssey of the beer connoisseur would seemingly reach the starchild level–that place that other mere mortals simply don’t understand, much less are they able to attain themselves–when he or she becomes addicted to funky sours beers. Those American wild ales, Flanders Reds, Lambics, and the granddaddy of them all, Guezes. Others might not understand why we like them, in fact they may even be repulsed when we let them try a sip of our glass, and, shit, we might not quite understand why we all of the sudden dig these mouth-puckerin’ tartbombs either, but alas, one day we all do.
It’s especially easy to dig these beers when you get to try world-class examples. Such as a few weeks ago when I tippled the currently 59th ranked beer on this planet, the unfiltered version of Girardin’s gueuze courtesy of Greg at Rustico in Alexandria, Virginia. I popped the cork to the moon, Alice, unleashing a smoking aroma of citric and funky tartness. The taste is milder though with a crisp and tingly lemon zing. This isn’t one of those sour beers that is so sharp you retract and wince with every eye-dropper-sized sip you take. Nor is it one that feels like acid ingestion in the reverse. Eminently drinkable with its low ABV, this is one of those rare beers that makes a low-ABV eschewer like myself realize that you need not be a double-digit ABV asskicker to pack in a lot of flavor. In fact, these boys from Belgium use a mere four ingredients–one of them being H20–to produce this delight. I haven’t had a lot of gueuzes in my life, but there surely cannot be many, if any, that are better than Girardin 1882 Black Label. Highly recommended both to those folks scared to enter the wild world of wilds, and to those more “expert” sour enthusiasts.
Hanssens Experimental Cassis
We shift the sour focus from gueuze to the seemingly more common lambic style, which are actually just gueze’s unblended. I suppose you could call them the single-malts to the gueuze’s blended Scotch. Glenlivet to Johnnie Walker. I had never heard of this brewery or this beer before–your Vice Blogger is sadly not quite all-knowing–but Greg pretty much just shoved this into my hand, telling me of its rarity and crazy deliciousness while ringing the register up on my bill. (Note to beer sellers: if you tell me a beer is highly rare and just put it into my hand, acting like I would be a damn fool to turn it away, you can pretty much just remove my wallet from my pocket and take out as much of my money as you would like.) Luckily, the far-more-knowledgeable-than-me Greg was right. Not only does this beer have a meager twelve total reviews on BA–shoot, it doesn’t even have a picture of the bottle with its profile–but it was incredibly good. Brewed with black currants (that’s what a “cassis” is you monolinguals) and “matured” in oak barrels, this was nice and dirty, tart and acidic yet balanced out with a nice touch of fruity sweetness. Smells of intense dark fruits, just a touch of fizz, and quite complex, this one goes down nice and easy. A slight slight debit for its thin mouthfeel though. Yet well worth seeking out. No clue what Hanssens is actually “experimenting” on, but please, keep on doing it.