A Good Beer Blog


Have you read The Unbearable Nonsense of Craft Beer - A Rant in Nine Acts by Alan and Max yet? It's out on Kindle as well as Lulu.

Maureen Ogle said this about the book: "... immensely readable, sometimes slightly surreal rumination on beer in general and craft beer in particular. Funny, witty, but most important: Smart. The beer geeks will likely get all cranky about it, but Alan and Max are the masters of cranky..."

Ron Pattinson said: "I'm in a rather odd situation. Because I appear in the book. A fictional version of me. It's a weird feeling."


Comments are locked. No additional comments may be posted.

mallace -

This probably won't help you for your current shopping trip, but I recently had the cuvee Cantillon bottled for Monk's Cafe in Philly. It is still quite sour, but I found it not as over-the-top sour as the other Cantillons I've had (Rose de Gambinus, Lou Pepe, Organic gueze, Kriek...). It was tasty and I would definitely get it again.

Donavan Hall -

What is the sound of one hand clapping?

Alan -

I take it, Donavan, that means there is no "Cantillon Lite Original Draft Dry Ice."

Knut Albert -

I found the Lou Pepe a bit softer than the others. I tried to offer my wife a glass of the Kriek a few nights ago, but she took a small sip and then politely asked if she could have a glass of wine instead!

Alan -

I ended up with a bottle of Fou'Foune - which was about 22 bucks USD. One day, I'll have to find out why this one brewery's bottles cost ten bucks more than the next most expensive, like say Fantome, in any store I have been in. Traditional should not cost that much more when others are storing for years as well.

Andy -

There are many reasons a Cantillon costs twice that of a Fantome. Simply put, the production costs are way higher. A fantome (or most traditional beers) are simply brewed, fermented for x weeks, then bottled and sold. A traditional lambic is brewed, put in a barrel, another batch brewed, put in a barrel, a 3rd batch brewed... after a while, with standard gueuze, 1, 2, and 3 year old lambics are blended to create a final product, which is then bottled.

In the case of fruit lambics, you also have to take into account the cost of the whole, premium fruit that they use, as opposed to your typical american raspberry wheat which just uses syrups or other cheap extracts.

Knut Albert -

I think it is more the story coonected to it, there are lots of Belgian small breweries who brew in small batches.
I went to the Cantillion brewery a few weeks ago, and the beers for sale there - the standard range - were reasonably prized.

What they do, though, is make limited edition beers for importers/wholesalers/bars across the globe. And the exclusivity of these beers would make them pricey. The Fou'Foune is not available at the brewery.

But for 22 dollars, I think I'd go for a beer I'd think I would enjoy.

Alan -

I get that Andy - and that is a good clarification - but why is this traditional lambic so much more than the others? No other style of beer has a style-defining brewery that carries the premium. I think, sadly, that Knut has a good chunk of it. <p>Remember, too, that exclusivity does not equal superiority and other limited edition brews by other brewers (not really more expensive to brew or ship and not more highly taxed) you do not see such a mark-up. Reminds a fella of champaign and the factors outside of the fluid that make up so much of the price.<p>And is this style really that much superior or more traditional than all others?

Knut Albert -

Superior, perhaps not. But I enjoy a beer that is challenging my concept of beer. In the 1994 edition of the excellent Good Beer Guide to Belgium and Holland, Tim Webb writes:

These are about the only brews currently on the market about which it is acceptable to say that they are sometimes perhaps too dry or too acid - say it about anybody else's brews and you do not yet understand Belgian ale.

One may disagree on this, but if a brewery is established as a yard stick for others, it will have an effect on the price.

Alan -

<i>"...say it about anybody else's brews and you do not yet understand Belgian ale..."</i><p>My red flags go up anytime anyone says "you do not yet understand" anything. There are many traditional foods that are unpleasant to others - I know that well being a Scot. But these beers bear a weight of responsibility to explain themselves as they veer so closely to the unpleasant. Failure to do so smacks to me of a sort of blindness and one that may be profitable to some and not likely especially the brewer. Think of similar claims being made in either politics or software sales and you may get my drift.

Jeff Cunningham -

To me, the most approachable lambic is currently Oud Beersel. I met the brewers recently who revived the once closed brewery a few years ago. The beer is made using completely traditional methods but is not as sour as some lambics I have had in the past. 3 Fountain might be a little less sour too.

Andy -

Cantillon is really not that much more expensive than other traditional lambics at all. On an equal price level for one is Drie Fonteinen, arguably the #1 lambic brewer out there. De Ranke's Kriek is also right around the $15 mark. Also, half bottles of Oud Beersel and Girardin are usually $7-8 -- right there with Cantillon. The only lambics really available that are a good bit cheaper are Lindemans Cuvee Rene (a single product but a fantastic deal) and Hansenns lambics, when you can find them, which are probably the best deal in beer. An $8 world class gueuze or kriek 750 is simply devine.

Alan -

See, that is the sort of information we need around here. I may even have a couple of these other ones in the stash.

Alan -

Yup - I have two Hansenns. I feel a post coming on...

Alan -

Knut has posted about his trip to Cantillon.

Stephen Beaumont -

Alan, if you ever get the chance -- it's extremely rare -- try the Cantillon St. Lamvinus, refermented with cabernet grapes from a St. Emillion estate. I bought the last two bottles from Premier Gourmet in Buffalo a year or two back and blew a lot of people's minds when I opened the first. Still holding on to the second...;o)

Alan -

Thanks for that, Stephen. My brief dig in and around the stash seems to indicate I have four traditional lambics so I may do some more self-education. Finger Lakes Beverage in Ithaca had maybe six or seven Cantillons last weekend but I could only roll the dice in the face of my ignorance and picked the Fou'Foune.

Alan -

A couple of odd things in a article about Cantillon mentioned by Jay today:<blockquote class="smalltext">Van Roy doesn't need loopholes for his label: Tradition and passion have guided the brewery since his father Jean-Pierre took over, abolishing the standard practice of adding saccharine to the brew and forgoing an industrial route...<p>"Before Pasteur," says Van Roy, "every beer was made this way."</blockquote>I don't think a two generation history is a long tradition and it is simply not true that every beer was made that way before Pasteur. Perhaps every lambic but most beer styles were carried over with yeast from batch to batch and not subject to wild yeasts. Sour tangs were sometimes part of the style, as is often written about London beers but that is often attributed to the lack of sterilizations of the wooden casks.<p>Still, much more to learn for me about lambics.