Friday, March 19, 2010

Cherry Ripe

Chapeau Kriek is a lambic beer, meaning that fermentation is spontaneous caused by wild yeasts native to Belgium and the beer is aged traditionally in wooden barrels, which themselves contain many wild yeasts. To make a Kriek, cherries are added to the fermentation, giving a beautiful red colour which ranges from fuschia to deep ruby. This particular beer is also sweetened with syrup and additional sugar.

The aroma on this beer was very ‘boozy berry’ with the first sip (after I removed both the crown closure and cork) giving a kirsch (cherry brandy) like sweetness with a hint of syrupiness. This was well balanced with a sourness that left the impression of sherbet in my mouth. The beer was thirst quenching and reminiscent of vanilla cream soda. The beer is light and zesty, with a distinct ‘zing’ of fizzy sweets.

Forgive the dodgy photo, it was night and very dark and although committed to lovely photos I am not going to start drinking in the middle of the day.

The obvious pairing might be a desert, like a pot de chocolat or even a fruit based tart especially something with almonds- in fact Kriek and dense chocolate pudding is my fall back desert. More challenging though is something like a Mortadella ham, or good quality smoked ham, for example a ‘Black Forest’ style. The contrast of the smokiness and the saccharine cherry works surprisingly well. No recipe required there, just slice and serve on a hefty wooden chopping board with some crusty bread if you are so inclined. Another sweet and savoury combination might be washed rind cheddar, or even an aged hard cheese served on oat cakes.

The only complaint I have about this beer is the price v alcohol content. Coming in at 3.7% ABV and priced at just under €4 in the off license and at a recession-flouting €6.90 in one of my favourite pubs the pricing seems a little out of kilter.

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