Alright. This is new for me, so if it’s a bit rough, well, I’ll try better for next time. Since this is my first real beer, I’m also going to be photo-documenting much of this process. Please excuse any picture quality issues, as this was done with a cell-phone camera.
To start, a bit of a lesson (which I just taught myself): Today, we’re looking at a Kriek Lambic from Lindemans of Belgium. Lambics are an interesting breed of beers in that they are fermented not by the careful addition of cultivated yeasts, but rather it uses “spontaneous” fermentation, taking advantage of the wild yeasts and bacteria living natively in the specific area of Belgium where this is brewed. To create a Kriek, following initial fermentation, cherries are added to the brew, which is then allowed to re-ferment. It’s kinda neat, actually.
Anyway, this beer was a bit of an adventure for me. As you may know, I’m not really a beer guy. In fact, this is the first time I’ve actually consumed an entire beer. They’ve never been for me, but it seems that with the right beer, I could be persuaded. In this case, it was Tuesday, November 17th. I was out early for the day, since Christa’s late class was canceled, and I decided to stop at my local Piggly Wiggly to pick up some lunch. I swung through their deli and picked up some tamales (they actually do great tamales there), then felt compelled to visit the liquor department. I couldn’t tell you why, but I just felt like I should. While I was there, I discovered that in fact, Piggly Wiggly has an entire endcap devoted to…I’ll call them non-standard beers. The ones that you’re not picking up in a six-pack, or in cans. The imports and such.
After looking at them for quite a while, and walking away twice (then walking away a third time with a different beer that I changed my mind on before getting to the checkout), I selected the Kriek Lambic. This was based on absolutely nothing. I had no idea what a Kriek Lambic was (in fact, I couldn’t even figure out for quite a while who the brewer was), but it promised cherry flavor, and that was good enough for me.
Getting home, I warmed up my tamales, and chilled my beer, and then set to work documenting my first real beer experience (well, unless you count the tasting we did at Josh’s that one time). I made sure to take pictures at each step so I could give you the full experience. I began, of course, with the initial arrival (pictured left).
As you can see, it came with a lovely red foil wrapper for the top and everything. Very fancy. And while it’s still a bit fuzzy, I’ve got a closeup of the label here.
So, as my tamales began to return to room temperature, I unwrapped the bottle, and attempted to remove the cap. It was very stubborn, and it only took me a minute or so of attempting to remove the cap that I realized why:
Attached to the underside of the cap was a cork (pictured—badly—right). Well, that certainly made for a more interesting attempt to open. After some more pulling and prying, all I managed to accomplish was to tear the cap free from the top of the cork. Well, that’s close enough, I figured. Just get my corkscrew, and this takes care of itself.
There was one problem though; there was no corkscrew (pictured nowhere). I searched high and low, through everywhere I could think that I might have left it, to no avail. Surely, I was too far into my beer experience to be beaten by a simple bit of cork!
So I set to my garage, and acquired a 3″ drywall screw, and made use of my Leatherman Wave (Thank you, Christa!) to drive the screw deep, deep into the cork, then turned my Wave around used its pliers to draw out the cork (MacGyvered cork pictured left). And while it’s not pictured here, at this point, the entire bottle fizzed up and overflowed. I would later learn that it was a well-carbonated brew.
It was at this point that I was finally able to pour the beer into the best glass I had available for this sort of beer (in this case, a tall straight-sided one). The first thing I noticed—after the beer flowed up out of the bottle, unbidden—was the intense smell of cherries. After breathing it in a few times, I caught something else under there. Something that was significantly more beer-like. It was a bit yeasty, and a bit malty. The smell carried the sense of a place, dark and damp and woody. It was interesting.
After looking up how best to pour beer over at BeerAdvocate.com, I found that the bubbling over of the beer when I uncorked it was not a freak occurrence; it was actually just a very foam-ready brew. I had to stop pouring when I was about 2/3 of the way through, due to the foam’s climb up the glass.
Taking a sip, the first thing I noticed was how bright and crisp this was in my mouth. As previously noted, it possessed strong carbonation, but of the makes-your-mouth-tingle variety, not the foaming-up-in-your-mouth type, which I found rather pleasant. The cherry flavors carried through rather nicely, with almost a citrus-like acid bite to it, and it finished with just a bit of maltiness. There was an aftertaste to it that told you very clearly that it was a beer you were drinking, and lasted only a very short time, leaving a clean feeling; no lingering tastes left behind.
Going back to the head, I must say that it was rather substantial, but short-lived. However, once it fell, it left behind rather significant lacing (pictured right), which left steps behind as I drank it.
Overall, I rather liked this beer. I would definitely recommend it as a beer for non-beer-drinkers, as it was an enjoyable experience, and a great taste. As for the drinking experience, I’d probably compare it to drinking Arbor Mist, for the way it feels, and the fruitiness of it. And while I normally disparage Arbor Mist (as I love wines, and Arbor Mist is an abomination), I really do mean that in the best way possible.
Lindemans Kriek Lambic makes for a very nice place to start your journey into beer drinking. It’s not the most beery of brews, but for those of us new to the field, that’s kind of a good thing.