I wasn't sure what music I wanted to go with this week. But after I tasted the Boon Mariage Parfait Gueuze, a beer I hadn't tasted in years...nothing less would do. Enjoy Dimitri Shostakovich's Festive Overture.
I love that stuff.
Boon Mariage Parfait Geuze, 8.0%
I still remember my first Boon Mariage Parfait. It split my nose open like a well-used outhouse; raunchy farmhouse assault, swelling bacterial aromas, brutal. And yet...I kept going back for more, like with a truly great raw milk cheese. I never forgot that, even when Boon tamed down a bit.
Then I got this sample from the Rare Beer Club, and I wanted to see if it still had that power, if it still gave up that funk. The cork popped sharply, the beer fizzed mightily, the dark gold color and bright white head were beautiful. Nosing time.
Well, it doesn't smell like a shithouse. What I do smell are classic geuze markers: blood, old iron, horse blanket, deeply tart grapefruit, soursop, and finally, some malt in behind. There's a sweetness to it that makes me a bit suspect, but let's get it over the lips.
A blend of sour, bitter, oaky tannin, and dry brett. The fizz is great, but the main body is so blended, it's almost too well-blended. Don't get me wrong: this is good, very good, and I intend to finish the entire 750, but...it falls short of the true greatness it used to possess. I've seen people ding Boon for not being "as sour as Cantillon." I don't think they get it. I'm not a lambic expert, but I've had far more than my share, and the truth is, "lambic" doesn't mean one thing, one type of beer. There are differences among them: piercingly sour, crisply astringent, raunchily funky, dryly woody with brett. This actually reaches across several categories and brings them together. To be fair, the finish is spectacular, the beer's best aspect, where the full range of complexity catches fire and lights up your mouth.
Welcome back, old friend. You're not what you were, but what you are is worthy, and loved, and a great way to fill a glass.
Innis & Gunn White Oak Wheat Beer, 6.4%
This is where I get confused, by the confusion over wheat beers. The front label of this one says "Wheat beer with bergamot, orange peel, and orange oil added." Which sounds more like a witbier, right? Then the back calls it a "German-style wheat beer," aged 46 days over oak and finished with the bergamot and orange. So what the hell is it? Style considerations aside, let's find out.
It sure doesn't smell German-style (or look it; no huge head): mostly it's the bergamot (think Earl Grey tea) and the oak — mostly vanilla — in the nose. So let's have a sip.
Very creamy (almost feels nitro), like many of the Innis & Gunn beers, and not a trace of the German weissbier character. The orange and bergamot and oak are all there, though, and they come together in a weirdly pleasant way. It's beguiling, truly. I like about 1 in 3 of these Innis & Gunns, and I never thought this would be one of them from the description, but even though it tastes kind of sweet, weird sweet, the oak and the bergamot balances it. I like this one, and it's bewitchingly different.
"Different" is good, these days...as long as it isn't disgusting.
Søle Clink, 4.9%
(I'm just going to type Sole, without the fancy ø every time. Had this on draft at a place that shall remain nameless.)
Is the pale ale coming back? Mebbe? Please? A new "gypsy" brewery in our area, Sole Artisan Ales created Clink as their "anytime" beer, a heavily dry-hopped pale ale without a ton of bitterness (though -- spoiler -- it does show up in the finish). I haven't seen it a lot of places, despite having some connection to the people who make it (as in, I've met them and they stay in touch), so when I saw it today I grabbed one.
Clean and clear, light yellow, white head. Good aroma -- pine and citrus, the American classics -- and the hop and malt are beautifully balanced in the beer. There's a bit of minerality that I'm not sure is the beer (might be the lines), and then the hops really kick in at the finish. A solid beer, not a great beer, but solid.
This, or another decent solid beer? Love the one you're with, baby.