Day Six - Tilquin Oude Pinot Noir á l'Ancienne (Belgium, 7.7%)
Why are grapes used so rarely in beer? Cherries, raspberries, plums, mangoes and countless other fruits seem to jump the queue. Is it because they're expensive, or just because wine is made with grapes? Can't cross the streams, right? Well, I think it's a shame. Grapes have a lot to offer beer. Were I ever to be let loose on a brew kit, the overly ambitious concept I would attempt to realise is a saison with white grapes and Nelson Sauvin hops. Doesn't that sound great? There might be a good reason why it wouldn't work, but until then, I can dream.
I was excited upon finding this grape lambic from Tilquin, hence saving the bottle for the biggest food and drink day of the year. Things got off to a bad start, though, because this beer stinks. Generously, it has an air of mature cheddar about it it. More accurately, it smells of sick. The fact that this doesn't carry over into the flavour is a bit of a Christmas miracle.
On the first gulp, my first impression is that this is dry. Which makes sense - lambic's generally dry, fermented as they are with hungry wild yeast and then aged in oak barrels. Add in grape skins and you can expect a buttload of tannins. It's acidic and tart too, of course, but as it warms, a sweet and rounded raspberry note grows and grows. It's really delicious, and an invigorating pick-me-up after a traditionally excessive Christmas dinner.