Tuesday, December 6, 2011

496. Kriek De Ranke

Our second beer from Brouwerij De Ranke in Wevelgem, Belgium—our last one was Cuvée De Ranke. I do like the pink label on the bottle—this label far surpassed our last pink Belgian beer label, and the beer is, well, light-years ahead.

Kriek De Ranke is described on the label as a “70% Belgian sour ale fermented with cherries with 30% lambic added.” It pours a faint maraschino cherry red—faint because it is lightly pink-hued, and not as deep of a red as maraschino cherries are by themselves. The head is thin, white, and pink; it quickly fades, although there is a fair amount of small streaming carbonation up the sides of the glass to keep a faint ring along the edge, while the nose is a mix of musty cellar, tartness, and old mown hay. Basically, it is all the good parts of your grandparents’ basement, and, might I add, none of the bad. I find the aromatic nuance of the nose beguiling, while Elli queried as to what I meant by old mown hay. To be honest, I’m not completely certain, but it strikes me as close a descriptor as I can muster to describe the beer’s bouquet. Flavors start sharp and bright; the initial cherry flavor is mixed with citric tartness—repeated tasting and contemplation brought a light flush across my cheeks. The tartness rises in the middle, with the mineral brightness coming to the foreground, and the prickly carbonation helping push these palate sensations to the forefront, allowing the tartness to dominate and finish the beer. A delicate cherry flavor lurks on the back and sides of the tongue as the main thrust of tartness drops away, resulting in a clean yet tantalizingly subtle finish—the cherry flavor is reserved but adroit, coming across far gentler than the color might indicate. Elli notes she would like a bit wider range of flavor, and I mostly agree. Nonetheless, the sparse composition is a study in understatement; while the ethos behind this beer runs counter to a fair amount of American brewing ingenuity, it is something I wish that brewers on this side of the pond considered in greater depth.

Love the highlights...

From the Brouwerij De Ranke website: “Kriek De Ranke is a 7% vol. Alc. Kriek that’s unique because the composition is based on two different styles of sour ales. Being the red-brown style from the Roeselare/ Kortrijk/ Oudenaarde-region and the Lambic style from the Pajottenland-region, close to Brussels. We produce and acidify the red-brown ale ourselves, after which we add 25% sour cherries. These cherries stay in the ale for 6 months. Once fermented, the cherries come out and we add Lambic from Brewery Girardin. After this the ale matures for a while before being ready to drink. It’s an explicit thirst quencher, that contains nearly no sugar.”

ABV: 7.0%


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