Boon/Mikkeller Oude Geuze White Vermouth Foeders

Boon tends to get lost in the shuffle of lambic producers. Maybe it’s their relatively lackluster fruited offerings, or perhaps their distinct minerality character isn’t as exciting to folks, or it could be a cosmic roll of the dice, and Cantillon and Drie Fonteinen rolled higher (alright, Tilquin seems to have rolled well too). Maybe Frank Boon cheated the devil in a game of chance. That sort of thing. That said, I appreciate Boon’s availability, usually approachable price-point, and their variety of releases. Their geuze offerings are generally underrated and plentiful.

This particular release is the third in their series of collaborations with Mikkeller. To my mind, the best is still the first collaboration, Bone Dry, and the subsequent Boon Black Label batches (basically the same beer, but without Mikkel’s blending notions). Indeed, despite the glaring fact that the label is not actually black, Black Label is my go-to lambic and it’s a terrible shame that it doesn’t appear to be produced anymore (though hope springs eternal for a batch 5).

This beer is aged in old White Vermouth Foeders and the blend consists of mostly 2 year old lambic, with some 1 year old for bottle conditioning and just a touch of 3 year old for complexity and, I dunno, joy. Will these vermouth foeders provide a more noticeable character than the Calvados barrels from the second collaboration release? Only one way to find out:

Boon/Mikkeller Oude Geuze White Vermouth Foeders

Boon/Mikkeller Oude Geuze White Vermouth Foeders – Pours a slightly hazy yellowish gold color with a solid finger of white, fluffy head, moderate retention. Smells good, a healthy amount of earthy funk leavened by some nice vinous notes from the vermouth. Taste is sweet up front, followed by funky earth, some herbal and spice notes, that Boon minerality, and then tart fruit with a sourness emerging towards the finish. Mouthfeel is light bodied, well carbonated, and crisp, dry up front yielding a bit into the finish. Moderate acidity. Overall, it’s a nice vinous spin on your typical Boon Geuze, the Vermouth Foeder definitely provides more character than the Calvados barrels from the last release. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 6.6% ABV bottled (750 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a flute glass on 9/19/20. Lot: 73321.

It does seem as if Boon’s riffing on Geuze is slowing down. There aren’t any new Vat releases. Black Label seems dormant. And while these Mikkeller jams are interesting, the pricepoint does seem higher. Oh well, I guess we’ll just have to keep drinking the regular OG or Marriage Parfait. Both are well worth your time, and there are still Black Label bottles can be scrounged off shelves. There is a fourth Boon/Mikkeller Collaboration that I’m sure will eventually make the rounds, so there is that.

Allagash Coolship Resurgam

Back in the before times, the long long ago, there were two American breweries that had made a name for themselves by specializing in Belgian style ales: Allagash and Ommegang. I thought it might be fun to catch up with both and see how they’re faring in the current beer scene. Now that we’re awash in barrel aged pastry stouts, hazy slurry IPAs, milkshakes, fruit juice beers, and other stuff that doesn’t actually taste like beer, how’s a traditional Belgian style brewery to adapt in tomorrow morrow land?

Allagash’s flagship beer is White, an excellent, flavorful Belgian Wit that’s been a popular gateway beer for all those Coors/Blue Moon drinkers out there, but doesn’t exactly get twixt the nethers of beer dorks. For those already ensconced in the warm embrace of beer nerdery and thus more fickle in their tastes, Allagash has been building an excellent sour beer program and basically become an American Lambic producer.

They’ve even installed a Coolship at their brewery. For the uninitiated, a Coolship is basically a long, shallow pan that’s used to cool the wort while also exposing it to the environment and inoculating it with wild yeast and other microflora. Only a handful of American breweries have even attempted something like this, and Allagash is definitely one of the pioneers of such projects (at least, in America).

What we have here is an American take on Gueuze, a blend of 1, 2, and 3 year old beers aged in oak. The term “Resurgam” is latin for “I shall rise again,” which has obvious Christian connotations, but it is also apparently the name of a Victorian submarine. Go figure. Now: it’s beer!

Allagash Coolship Resurgam

Allagash Coolship Resurgam – Pours a slightly hazy pale golden color with a solid finger of white fluffy head. Smells great, lots of earthy funk, a little stone fruit, lemons, and the like. Taste hits that earthy funk up front, quickly followed by fruity esters, apricots, lemon zest, finishing with a tart bite. Mouthfeel is well carbonated and crisp, light bodied, moderate to low acidity, dry finish. Overall, it’s a pretty damn spectacular beer. Something about Allagash’s sours always seem to just click with me. Also of note is that this is about 3 years old, which means that it ages pretty well too… A

Beer Nerd Details: 6.4% ABV bottled (375 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a tulip glass on 9/12/20. Bottled: Aug. 31, 2017.

N.B. The picture above was taken almost two years ago at a local bar, but the tasting notes were from a different bottle I drank this past September. I just thought the older picture was nicer looking than my standard setup so I used that instead. I’m pretty sure it’s the same batch of beer, so there’s that…

The Coolship program also releases several fruited variants, like Coolship Red (made with raspberries) and Coolship la Mure (made with blackberries), both excellent. There are many others that I have not had, but one of these days I’m going to try and snag a bottle of Ghoulship for the Halloween Season.

Anywho, as hinted at above, I’ve got some Ommegang beers in the pipeline too. They’ve gone in a bit of a different direction, but are still putting out some interesting beer…

Zwanze Day 2018

Zwanze Day is a worldwide event in which Cantillon releases a new, limited lambic to the huddled masses, yearning to be drunk. The event spans many countries and is limited to 70 or so bars, worldwide. I attended the 2016 festivities at Monk’s Cafe in Philly and was dutifully impressed with that year’s Raspberry/Blueberry entry into the Zwanze canon. It’s always a crowded event and some people get there very early and wait in line. If it means getting a table, that’s a very good thing indeed and fortunately for me, I had some friends who decided to line up early and had an extra seat at their table.

Along with the Zwanze entry, which isn’t tapped until later in the day, Monk’s pulls out all the stops, with a whole assortment of other Cantillon lambics available. It was quite the rainbow:

Taste the rainbow... of Cantillon

Click to embiggen

A few of these were even new to me, which is always nice. Nath is made with macerated rhubarb in 2 year old lambic, and it provides a nice little bump in the tartness and funk profile of your typical Cantillon (I didn’t take formal tasting notes, so I’ll leave it at that – it was excellent).

Cantillon 20 Ans D'Amitié

The other new to me lambic was 20 Ans D’Amitié, a blend of Rhubarb and Raspberry lambics (so Nath and Rosé de Gambrinus?) that was produced for the 20th Anniversary of Monk’s Cafe in 2017. As you might expect, it’s delightful.

And of course, there were a whole slew of other Cantillons that we all know are fantastic, like the Kriek (still my favorite, to be honest!), Rosé de Gambrinus, Grand Cru Broucsella, the Classic Gueuze, and Vigneronne.

Zwanze 2018

Finally, there was Zwanze 2018 Manneken Pise. If you’re interested in lambic, you’ve no doubt discovered that it’s damn near impossible to track down Cantillon lambic. Even ordering direct from Belgium (with it’s absurd shipping prices) isn’t a particularly viable option anymore. Back in 2015, Cantillion acquired a new building across the street from their current location. Over the next few years, they increased production and had to source a whole slew of new barrels to age their lambic. Enter three particular sets of barrels that stood out: those that had previously held Sangiovese, Amarone, and Chianti. Ah, the wine of my people! Anyway, Zwanze 2018 is a blend of lambic that had been aged in those three types of barrels. And it’s quite nice, adding a noticeable but distinct vinous character to the typically oaky, tart, and funky Cantillon lambic base. Some subtle fruit notes and a nice, light, tannic dryness make this a somewhat unique experience. Again, I didn’t take formal tasting notes, but they’re normally pretty boring and ultimately, yeah, it’s a big shock that Cantillon produced a good lambic. Stop the presses.

So yes, another successful Zwanze day under my belt. Well worth checking out if you have a Zwanze venue near you. I’d be curious to see what it would be like at a less crowded venue, but it’s hard to turn down an afternoon at Monk’s (and if you somehow manage to snag a table, many of the issues with the crowd are minimized!) Anywho, now that Cantillion has increased capacity, here’s to hoping we see a little more of their stuff making its way into our hands… And maybe I won’t wait a month to post something about it next time.

(Many thanks to Kaedrin friend Dana for taking/sharing that fancy picture with all the beers lined up.)

3 Fonteinen Oude Geuze Cuvée Armand & Gaston

Lambic in general, and Gueuze in particular, have slowly but steadily taken up more of my allotted drinking cycles. Channeling my inner-wonk, nothing beats the harmony, complexity, and balance involved in the traditional three vintage blend of spontaneously fermented beer that marks Gueuze. I suppose this sounds like marketing fluff or just plain wanking, but who cares, Gueuze is probably awesomer than you are. I mean, not you, the other readers. Wink wink, nudge nudge. As producers go, the conventional wisdom is that Cantillon is well known for their fruited lambics, but Drie Fonteinen is most famous for their Gueuze blends (not to belittle their other offerings, nor other lambic producers, who all have their strengths, and what the hell, conventional wisdom can go pound sand, but I digress – the point is that Drie is great at blending.)

After Drie Fonteinen recovered from their “Thermostat Incident”, they actually managed to rev up a new production facility, and a few years later, the first vintages of their Gueuze were ready for blending. Of course, their OG standard is wonderful, but since they were finally self-sufficient again, Armand Debelder decided to blend up a special batch in honor of his father, Gaston. This beer consists only of lambic brewed by 3 Fonteinen, and this post will actually cover two batches. One, with the old label, was one of the earlier 2015 batches, and I shared that with a bunch of friends recently (so didn’t take detailed notes, but I’ll give some background on why I was sharing such a bottle and whatever thoughts I can muster below). The other is a newer 2017 release, and has the new, swanky silkscreen label with stickers, which I was able to write tasting notes for. Because you all love those, right? Right. The label sez that this is “blended from lambics aged and matured on 4 different barrels, originating from wort of 7 different brews. The old lambic was brewed with slightly darker malts and was destined for another Straffe Winter (but we actually forgot about it…)” (Straffe Winter is a Faro that they have still only released once, in case you were wondering.) Ok, enough wanking, let’s get to it.

Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen Oude Geuze Cuvée Armand and Gaston

Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen Oude Geuze Cuvée Armand & Gaston (2017) – Pours a dark golden orange color with a couple fingers of fluffy, bubbly head. Smells fantastic, deep, earthy funk, oak, plenty of fruity esters. Taste hits the fruity ester notes more than the nose, but that earthy funk provides some good complexity in the background and the oak leavens things well. A well balanced sourness emerges in the middle and lasts through the finish. It’s delicious. Mouthfeel is highly carbonated, crisp, and effervescent, medium bodied, with a moderate and well balanced acidity. Overall, this is one spectacular, well balanced, complex geuze. A

Beer Nerd Details: 5.3% ABV bottled (375 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a flute glass on 2/9/18. Bottling Date: 01/25/17. Best Before: 10/26/37. Blend n° 17 – Season 16-17.

Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen Oude Geuze Cuvée Armand and Gaston 2015

Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen Oude Geuze Cuvée Armand & Gaston (2015) – I hate the sport of basketball. However, I do make one exception, and that is Villanova basketball, which I have watched with some regularity since I graced that fine university, jeeze, over twenty years ago? Anyway, two years ago, Villanova won the NCAA championship and my friend and fellow VU alum Rich brought a BCBS Vanilla Rye to a share the night after we won. It was a spectacular beer; age had treated it very well and I’d go so far as to say it’s one of the few beers I’ve had where age has actually improved the beer. Anyway, a few weeks ago, Villanova won their second NCAA championship in 3 years (and third overall), and Rich and I immediately started putting together a share where we’d dig out something great from our cellars. He brought a spectacular bottle of ADWTD, and I brought this beauty: the first vintage of Armand and Gaston. This consists of some of the first lambic brewed on their new system in 2013, and according to the bottle logs, it’s the second 750 ml bottling (both in October of 2015), and there were approximately 3,800 bottles in this batch (there was an additional 375 ml bottling and a thusfar unreleased 1.5 l bottling that is aging in the 3F cellars).

Opening the bottle resulted in some mild gushing (cork basically popped out on its own), but fortunately, not too much of our precious juice was lost. And yes, my impression was that this was somehow even better than the 2017 vintage I just praised to high heaven above. Super funky, but it didn’t quite veer into extra-pungent blue-cheese territory that is fascinating for sure, but not quite as nice as this. Earthy, fruity, tart but not overly acidic, highly carbed and effervescent, great balance,depth, and complexity, I could have easily rocked the entire bottle by myself, but I was glad I shared it with some friends who could appreciate its charms. Again, I didn’t really take any notes, but it was great. I’ll give it an A too, and this is definitely the sort of thing to seek out.

Beer Nerd Details: 6% ABV bottled (750 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a wine glass on 4/12/18. Bottling Date: 2015, October 20. Best Before: 2035, October 26th.

I love the Best Before date on the bottle. Not just 20 years, but 20 years and 6 days. A minute longer and it’ll spoil. Anywho, both vintages were phenomenal. Seek this out. It may be pricey, but it’s worth a stretch. But my priorities are way out of whack, so you do you.

Boon / Mikkeller Oude Geuze

The second lambic collaboration between Boon and Mikkeller (the first being their Bone Dry, a sorta older sister beer to Black Label (which always annoys me because despite being delicious, the bottle does not actually have a black label on it… but I digress)), this iteration focuses on a blend that is primarily comprised of lambic from a foeder that had previously contained Calvados (apple brandy, for the uninitiated). No indication which foeder or how old that particular foeder is, but it’s got the traditional Geuze blend of 1-3 year old lambics, which is certainly good enough for this beer dork. Let’s dive in:

Boon Mikkeller Oude Geuze

Boon / Mikkeller Oude Geuze – Pours a yellowish golden color with a solid finger of bubbly but dense head with good retention. Smells great, lots of earthy funk, something a little fruity playing around the edges (of my nose? Yeah, something like that.) Taste is has a lighter earthy funk to it, definitely some fruity twang (if I’m looking for it, maybe, maybe some Calvados green apple kinda character), a little sourness towards the finish. Mouthfeel is highly carbonated and effervescent, very dry, moderate acidity, pretty easy going. Overall, it’s good, but I don’t know that the Calvados character comes through in a particularly strong, identifiable way. Still a worthwhile experiment and a nice twist. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 6.4% ABV bottled (750 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a flute glass on 12/1/17. Best before: 22/11/2036.

Boon seems to be riding that novelty wave by putting out lots of variants and different releases, but one thing that is different about them: They seem to be generally available. You have to hunt them out a little, as most stores seem to focus on the US boom these days (and who can blame them), but if you want these suckers, you can usually find a way… Moar Boon incoming soon (I picked up that set of four different Vat variants, which should be interesting)… and maybe even lambic from another producer. Stay tuned.

Boon Vat 109 Mono Blend

For anything that is primarily blended, there’s this instinct to see what individual components would taste like. You see this a lot in whiskey, but there are plenty of other applications as well. Take this series of Mono Blends from Boon. Each is primarily composed of lambic from a single foeder (blended with a very small amount of young lambic for bottle conditioning purposes), and this is the third one that I’ve had. Unfortunately, I’ve had them over the course of 2-3 years, so this isn’t exactly a side-by-side comparison, but I feel like all three have been somewhat distinct.

Vat 77 was very earthy with a big kick of minerality. Vat 79 was noticeably more fruity and tart, though it still retained that mineral character that I seem to get out of all of Boon’s lambic. Now we’ve got Vat 109, a 9000 liter cask built over a hundred years ago (approx 1910 timeframe) and originally made to be used in beer production. That being said, it was used to age Cognac starting in 1935 up until Boon got their hands on it in 2009. This particular batch was brewed in 2014 and released in 2016, only showing up on my local shelves recently (at least, that I saw). With acknowledgement to the infamously unreliable nature of memory, I’d put this somewhere on the continuum between Vat 77’s earthy minerality and Vat 79’s more fruity character, though all have what I’m coming to recognize as Boon’s trademark character.

Boon Vat 109 Mono Blend

Boon Oude Geuze A L’Ancienne Vat 109 Mono Blend – Pours a hazy golden color with a couple fingers of fluffy, fizzy head that manages to stick around for a bit. Smells great, lots of earthiness, that trademark Boon minerality, and something brighter, fruitier in the background. Taste hits that mineral character pretty hard, lots of earthy funk, with a touch of sourness and fruit only really emerging in the finish. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, highly carbonated, crisp, and effervescent, lowish acidity. Overall, this is another solid offering from the Mono Blend line, maybe not quite as great as 79, but still damn good. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 8.25% ABV bottled (375 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a geuze tumbler on 11/4/17. Best Before 04/19/2025. Batch #: 71312.

I have some extra bottles of Vat 79 and now 109, so maybe one day I’ll be able to do a better, side by side comparison (perhaps we can wait until we get some additional batches out there), which would be entirely more reliable than drinking these suckers months/years apart and trying to discern the differences that way.

Boon Vat 79 Mono Blend

Another entry in Boon’s Mono Blend series, kinda like a singe barrel offering, only it’s got a touch of young lambic blended in for bottle conditioning. Still, it’s an interesting series of beers. Vat 77 consisted of 2 year old lambic and was very earthy and minerally, but here we have Vat 79. It’s the oldest foeder at the brewery, dating back to 1883. In addition, according to the brewery:

So old that we do not know. The oak comes from oak trees that are almost 250 years old, which means your lambic is matured with trees planted between 1670 and 1680.

Sploosh. Rumor has it that Vat 79 is mostly used as a component for the Mariage Parfait blends (which are mostly 3 year old lambic).

An anecdote from an old brewery webpage: An American lady that tasted lambic from the No. 79 cask said it was “Boon to be Wild”. Well that sounds good to me, let’s dive in:

Boon Vat 79 Mono Blend

Boon Oude Geuze A L’Ancienne Vat 79 Mono Blend – Pours a slightly hazy golden color with a finger of white head that has good retention. Smells nice and earthy, funk, that trademark Boon minerality, something a little fruity lurking in the background. Taste hits with sweet, fruity notes up front, followed by funky earth and minerality, finishing with oak and tart fruit. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, highly carbonated, moderately dry, medium acidity, a nice oaky character to the mouthfeel too. Overall, this is one damn fine geuze, better than Vat 77 for sure, and stacks up favorably against the competition. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 8.8% (back label) or 9% (front label) ABV bottled (750 ml, caged and corked). Drank out of a geuze tumbler on 4/29/16. Batch #62203. Best Before 12/17/2034. Brewed on the 19th and 20th of 2011. Bottled 17th Dec 2014. Released April 2016.

There have been two other Mono Blends released, Vat 44 and Vat 109, but I have yet to see those around just yet. I will most certainly be keeping my eyes peeled for those…

Zwanze Day 2016

Zwanze is a French word that roughly translates as “Humor typical of Brussels” and each year, Brussels-based Cantillon releases a beer of that name in a special worldwide event. As you might expect from the name, the beers tend to incorporate experimental ingredients or unconventional takes on their classical lambic style. In 2016, only 50 or so different bars throughout the world could hold a Zwanze Day celebration and as luck would have it, one was Monk’s Cafe in Philly.

Monks Cafe Neon Sign

(Click to Embiggen)

Of course, the occasion also marks an excuse to tap lots of other rare and interesting beers, including four other Cantillon lambics. Monk’s also held a truly astouding raffle and sells a limited amount of Cantillon bottles to-go. It’s an all cash event and proceeds go to a good cause, this year being Fair Food. I wasn’t sure if I’d be up to making the trek into the city and braving the crowds, but during dinner on the preceding night I cracked open a fortune cookie and saw this:

Fortune Cookies Never Lie

So I strapped my big boy pants on (ugh, I had to wear pants too, it was the worst), hopped on a train, and got in line a couple hours early. And if you think that’s crazy, some people had been waiting in line since 8 pm the previous night (around the time I was elbow deep into some Chinese food).

The Loon

(Click to Embiggen)

It was a bit of a madhouse and crowds aren’t really my thing, but I managed to stay sane with the help of some Cantillon Mamouche (a lambic made with elderflowers that originated as Zwanze 2009, but they liked it so much they kept making it), fresh Kriek (which is a super jammy cherry bomb and very different with some age on it – either way, it’s awesome), Gueuze (always a delight), and what I believe was Iris Grand Cru (which is Iris sans the dry-hopping and unblended to keep carbonation minimal – interesting to try, but I’m not overly fond of still beer.)

Two for one - Cantillon Gueuze and Kriek

(Click to Embiggen)

The event started at noon, but they weren’t tapping Zwanze until 3 pm, so I also got to dip into some other interesting beers, including a pair beers cellared since 2010. Russian River Supplication is one of my favorite beers and with 6 years on it, it still holds up pretty well. A little oxidation and perhaps a bit mellower than fresh, it also had a beautiful vinous fruit character that worked great. Lost Abbey Red Poppy from 2010 has also held up very well, retaining a surprising amount of cherry character.

Eventually, the crowd had swelled to bursting levels and Zwanze was poured. This year’s edition is a throwback to Cantillon’s old-school Framboise (i.e. pre-Rosé De Gambrinus, which is made with 100% Rasberries). As Jean van Roy explains: “When we used raspberries from Belgium, the taste was nice, but the color was not so beautiful. It was a bit old rose. To get a bit more color to the beer, we blended the raspberry beer with 25 percent of cherry Lambic and a bit of vanilla.” For Zwanze, Jean switched things up a bit, producing a blend of 82% raspberry lambic with 18% blueberry lambic and .05% vanilla added.

Cantillon Zwanze 2016

(Click to Embiggen)

And it’s delicious. Best nose of anything I had all day, complex fruit, hints of funk and oak. Taste follows the nose and the mouthfeel was a bit undercarbed (but nowhere near still, like the Iris was). It was great and with a little age and some extra carbonation, I feel like it could get even better (I don’t think they sold any bottles to go anywhere, even at the brewery, but I would hope they kept some in reserve – would love to try some in a year’s time to see how it held up). I wish I got a bigger pour, but I’m glad so many other people were able to get a taste.

All in all, a very exciting event. I’m really glad I went but truth be told, big crowds aren’t really my thing so I’m not sure if I’d go again. I’m reliably informed that some other venues weren’t nearly as crowded, so perhaps that’s the ticket. Only time will tell! Until then, I’m sure I can occupy myself with lots of other great beer, perhaps with Monk’s Cafe’s help!

Oude Geuze Boon Black Label

So it’s called “Black Label” despite the fact that the label is clear? Well, ok then, fine, be that way. What we have here is an oude geuze blended to commemorate the brewery’s 40th anniversary. It’s indirectly the result of a collaboration with Mikkeller, but since the barrels that Mikkeller blended were not empty, Boon decided to put out their own version. The resulting beers should be similar, but since the blends use differing proportions, the results are slightly still distinct. Mikkeller’s goal was to blend a lambic that was as dry as possible, almost 100% attenuation. However, the Black Label contains less older lambic (it’s still got 1, 2, and 3 year old lambic in there though, so no worries) and is thus more full-bodied and slightly less dry.

Oude Geuze Boon Black Label

Oude Geuze Boon Black Label – Damn that cork pops with authority. Watch where you aim that sucker. Pours a hazy golden orange color with visible carbonation bubbles and tons upon tons of bubbly white head that sticks around for a bit. Smells nice and funky, some light stone fruit and lemon zest but also some spice and earthy notes, typical Boon house style stuff. Taste hits those fruity notes harder than expected, tart lemons, finishes dry, less of the earthy funk, but it’s still there. Mouthfeel is bone dry and effervescent, light bodied, moderate acidity, this is where things diverge from your typical Boon offerings, in a good way I think… Overall, this is quite nice, like a drier version of Boon’s other offerings and better for it. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 7% ABV bottled (750 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a flute on 5/29/16. Bottled on: 26/03/2015. Best by: 26/03/2035.

I hesitate to say that this is something that you’ll see on shelves since this sold pretty quickly around here. Not, like, people lining up for it, but I got the last bottle a couple days after it went on shelves. I’m sure it’s around elsewhere and I’d like to see how it ages, so I’m going to try and track down another bottle or two. Boon continues to be a nice solid option when in need for a lambic fix. Not as good as the big two (3F and Cantillon), but generally available… and sometimes you can find specialty variants like this one, which is nice. Stay tuned, we’ve got another Belgian wild ale review coming later this week!

Boon Vat 77 Mono Blend

If not for the 10% young lambic blended into this beer (which provides enough lively yeast and fermentables to allow for carbonation in the bottle), it would be something akin to Single Barrel Lambic, an intriguing concept. The other 90% is sourced from a single oak foudre, numbered (you guessed it) 77. This particular cask was originally made in 1907, and while it’s survived two world wars and undoubtedly seen other uses during its long history, it’s been used by Boon to age three year old lambic for use in their gueuze blends since 1986. Apparently Frank Boon has a particular love for the beer that comes out of this cask, and so when they started this mono-blend series, it was only a matter of time before it was selected for a release. These fine folks even managed to snag a picture of the foudre:

The actual Vat 77

(Click to embiggen)

Of course, these foudres are gigantic (averaging 8,000 liters each), so don’t expect to see anything like the Single Barrel Bourbon or Scotch world, where local stores pick a barrel and bottle it, but wouldn’t that be neat if beer could pull off something like that? You know someone would take a flier on a Password is Taco barrel or snag a single barrel BCBS, or fly to Belgium and snag a Cantillon barrel. I doubt most breweries would be all that keen on the prospect, but who knows? Maybe one of these big barrel programs will differentiate themselves with this sort of thing (and, you know, do a better job than Retribution). In the meantime we’ll have to make due with approximations like this Mono Blend, which was actually a really interesting beer and something I’d like to compare against future releases… Let’s take a look at how it’s drinking now:

Boon A L ancienne Vat 77 Mono Blend

Boon Oude Gueuze A L’ancienne Vat 77 Mono Blend – Pours an almost clear golden color with a finger of fluffy head that lasts for a bit, but not indefinitely. Smells quite funky, lots of earthiness, lots of farmhouse, maybe even some funky cheese character. Taste also goes quite earthy, and frankly doesn’t feel all that sour at all, lots of leathery farmhouse character, not as cheesy as the nose would have you believe I guess, but still quite different than I’m used to for a Gueuze. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, medium bodied, only a very slight hint of acidity, much more funky than sour. Overall, this is an interesting beer! I don’t quite know what to make of it, actually, as it’s really quite nice, but also not your typical Gueuze… B+

Beer Nerd Details: 8.5% ABV bottled (375 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a tumbler on 11/7/15. Brewed 10/26/11 and 10/27/11. Bottled 10/24/13. Best before 10/24/2033.

Next up in the Mono Blend series is Vat 79, which is apparently the oldest cask they have, dating back to 1883. Would love to compare these two next to each other someday. In the meantime, Boon is one of the few Lambic producers who you can actually find, so go out there and snag some of those Marriage Parfaits, they’re pretty good too.