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June 04, 2003

Rosé de Gambrinus

Beer of the night.

Any beer that features a drawing of a naked blonde lady being fondled by what appears to be King Gambrinus or possibly The Gimp in one of his lighter moments deserves a taste. But for God's sake don't buy it at Whole Foods if you can possibly avoid it. Their price on a Lindemans Framboise was three and a half bucks higher than the same bottle at Harris Teeter, so the rest of the beers are also probably overpriced. Goddamn profit-mongering hippies. Come the revolution, I'm going to have them shot by the lawyers.

Michael Jackson, no not that one, the Beerhunter, calls the Rosé "The world's most famous framboise," which is probably on the same level of fame as the world's most famous dobro player. Not counting Curtis Lowe, of course. The brewer, Cantillon, is certainly one of the more sought after brewers of Belgian beers, and one of my favorites. When I saw the Rosé and its three other brethren up on the shelf at the store, I had to suppress an urge to run around shouting "The new phone books are here! The new phone books are here!"

Yes, I'm a dope, but that's the about the level of excitement I experienced. It's all I can do to keep from downing them all in one sitting, though I may try the lambic/white mix that the commenter Eli called a "Sweet Ho", in honor of the naked lady above, of course. I bought a Lindemans Framboise and an Allegash White for that, though. Not going to sully a Cantillon beverage by mixing it with something else. It would be like cutting 25 year old single malt with ginger ale. It doesn't matter what it tastes like, it simply isn't done unless one wishes to be thought an uncultured poltroon.

Framboise is the raspberry variation of a Belgian lambic, a fruit beer brewed only in Belgium's Senne Valley. The wild yeasts in that area are critical to the process of making a lambic, which in consequence is impossible to brew anywhere else. They also taste like no other beer on the planet. Many of the more commercial lambics (Lindemans) have sugar added to the process, which cuts down one the lip puckering sourness of an untouched lambic, but Cantillon, the brewer of the Rosé de Gambrinus and four or five of the other lambics I bought today eschews that practice, so all of their beers are characterized by a very sour fruitiness.

Which the Rosé surely has. The smell is incredibly tangy, and that's coming from a man with hardly a sense of smell at all. It could probably be used as perfume. The color is a deep reddish gold, like a bloody honey As for taste, there's a hint of smooth sweetness at the beginning, one lasting barely a moment before a dry combination of tart cherries and grapefruit smacks the taste buds into next week. The warmer the beer got, the less potent the kick, until at room temperature the sourness was merely a pleasant reminder of what came before. I wish I had another.

But instead I'll have a Ho. Same glass type, I would think, which for lambics is stemmed like a wine or pilsner glass rather than shaped like an English pint or American mixing glass. On the bottle labels produced for the export market the Belgian brewers make a point of practically begging one to use the correct glass. It seems snobby, but what they really want is for the beer to be presented in the best possible manner, so that you'll buy more.

Buying Lambic glasses on Ebay has proven to be an excellent way of annoying the wife, so I make sure to use them, though presumably not using them would be even more annoying. They also need to be hand washed rather than put un the dishwasher. Can't have harsh detergent residue interfering with the bouquet, you know. Also very annoying to the little woman.

The Sweet Ho tastes almost exactly like a Lindemans lambic would by itself. Possibly not quite as sweet. The mix is three-fifths Allegash; I would have expected more of the white ale to come through. The bouquet is definitely reduced from that of a lambic, but that's the only obvious difference.

Posted by Bigwig at June 4, 2003 11:07 PM | TrackBack
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