Cantillon – Iris 5%

Belgian Challenge – Beer 42

I have to confess to being a little wary about trying this beer, lambic beers are certainly an acquired taste and the last Cantillon beer I had tasted, the Lou Pepe, was perhaps a little too much too early for the uninitiated. It was lip pursingly acidic and at the time tasted more like something I’d put on fish and chips..

Nevertheless I have persevered and am gradually finding them more and more enjoyable. The Iris though is worlds apart from the last one being far more like a traditional hoppy bitter beer than it’s stablemate, don’t get me wrong the lambic vinous taste is still there, but in much more of a balanced way making this far easier to drink.

The Cantillon brewery is closely linked to Brussels, a city which has the iris as its symbol. As the name indicates, the “marsh iris” is a plant growing in humid areas. The historical center of Brussels is built on swamps where this flower used to grow abundantly.

Unlike other beers from Cantillon the Iris is not brewed with wheat but is only made with pale ale malt, giving it is amber colour on the pour accompanied by a fluffy head which disperses quickly.

There is a really fruity full bodied and slightly malted flavour to the beer, the acid is there, but is much less pronounced, finally you get that hop finish which is delicious.

Cantillon Iris is also different because of the “cold hopping” technique used in the latter stages.¬†After two years in the barrel, the Iris undergoes a second fresh hopping two weeks before the bottling. A linen bag, filled with hops, is soaked in the beer for two weeks. This gives the beer a more intense savour and makes the smell and the taste more bitter.

All in all a very different experience and one that has given me more confidence to try more lambic, if you fancy trying one I’d recommend going for something like a Mort Subite Gueuze or Oude Gueuze first, but I’d definitely look out for this as it is excellent.

This beer was sourced from BeerRitz, who have a highly respected speciality beer shop in Leeds as well as a mail order service.

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