To kick things off I’m having a bottle of Iris from the Brussels brewery-museum Cantillon. This is a spontaneously fermented beer in the style of lambic. However it is not a lambic because it uses fresh hops (lambic uses aged hops to avoid hop bitterness and aroma) and all barley malt (lambic uses a good percentage of unmalted wheat). Iris is dry hopped just before bottling as well. It is for these reasons brewer Jean-Pierre Van Roy calls it his ‘extreme’ beer. I brought this bottle (brewed 2005, bottled 22 March 2007) back from my visit to the Cantillon brewery, and it’s the last one I have from there.
As soon as I popped the cap the cork started inching its way out of the bottle. The pour formed a generous head for such a still beer, proof of the high levels of proteins and tannins present; however, without lively carbonation it was doomed to fall quickly. Iris is a wonderfully hazy goldenrod with head the color of cream. The nose is quite strong: very fruity, with a persistent earthiness and notes of barnyard. The fruit is a little citric with some apple, and the barnyard is hay and horse blanket. A clean and spicy noble hop aroma abounds (I won’t say that again for a week). This complexity makes me wonder why there aren’t more hoppy sours. As a rule I don’t give perfect scores but this nose is worth ten points.
The taste is at once tart and bitter, with hints of fruit, all in all reminding me of rhubarb. The tip of my tongue is almost knocked out, but the intensity quickly subsides. There are but moments of spicy and herbal hop flavor before the barn doors open. A collection of horse and goat finds the middle and back of my tongue. Some malt character is present. There is just a hint of sweetness, perhaps from the fruit flavor.