When Jeppe-Jarnit Bergsø, brother of Mikkeller founder Mikkel Borg Bergsø and himself later the brewer of Evil Twin, opened the Ølbutikken beer shop in Copenhagen fifteen years ago, he probably hardly realised that he and his brother more or less started a revolution in Europe: the craft beer revolution came from America to Europe first through Denmark, though of course important changes in beer culture had been going on for many years before that in the United Kingdom and Belgium as well, and Norway already had its great pioneer Nøgne Ø since 2002. Yet, the pioneering role of Denmark’s capital in bringing American style ‘postmodern’ craft brewing to Europe can hardly be overestimated, and Ølbutikken was a pioneer among pioneers. Among the beers Ølbutikken commissioned for sale at the shop only was this blueberry lambic by Cantillon: Ølbutikken delivered the blueberries to the brewery in Anderlecht, and there it was steeped in lambic in the same way as lambic brewers already traditionally did with cherries or raspberries. As much as we now, fifteen years later, take this kind of thing for granted, back in 2005 this was anything but self-evident (even though Cantillon was already one of the most progressive lambic producers back then also with less evident fruit species); so the result, simply called Blåbaer (‘blueberry’ in Danish), was an important and influential beer, that helped to spark the renewed interest in not just Cantillon’s oeuvre, but traditional lambic in general. Since 2005, Cantillon has been producing this Blåbaer (almost) every year in limited quantities, even after Ølbutikken closed its doors – Himmeriget took over the commissioning of Blåbaer from there – and it has become one of those iconic whales that are being traded for often hundreds of euros on the second-hand market. I have been reading about it for fifteen years – and tried to obtain a bottle a few times without success – but only now I found myself in the opportunity to finally taste it, as Cantillon is now selling bottles in their taproom in Brussels. Had it from a 75 cl bottle, 2019 vintage. Densely mousy, medium thick but opening, pale lilac-tinged off-white head on a hazy, beautifully purple beer with carmine red tinge. Aroma of indeed obvious blueberry, as in actual blueberry juice as well as clear blueberry skins, also cooked blackberries, stewed rhubarb, very dry red wine, lemon juice, background impressions of damp cellar, wet old wood, rosehip tea, sweat. Very fruity onset, juicy sweetish and spicy blueberries galore, but in a slender, elegant way, tart but relatively mildly so, with lots of minerally effects on the sides, adding crispness and further elegance; soft bready ‘soil’ under ongoing blueberry juiciness and fleshiness, with a soft blueberry skin astringency towards the end, where light woody and funky-Bretty notes show up as well, though the soft sourness and fruitiness of the berries remains the dominant factor all the way through, with this ongoing minerally undertone accompanying it. Great fruit lambic as expected, and even if this may not be the most overwhelming Cantillon lambic I had to date (implying that its high ratings everywhere have a lot to do with its sheer rarity as well), I very much enjoyed it because of its elegance, subtlety and balance – apart from, of course, the feeling that I just ticked another famous bucket list beer, which admittedly adds to the experience. I would, however, not go out of my way to obtain a second-hand bottle for hundreds of euros either (even if I am still very curious about earlier vintages), but there is no denying that this is a beautiful beer that allows the blueberries (or, more accurately in the English language perhaps, 'billberries') to shine beautifully - connecting with Denmark's traditional affinities with this and other kinds of forest fruit. Nordic-themed lambic the way it was intended.
Pours dark red. Small pink head. Scent is extremely intense, Berry. Fruitskins, bit peppery almost. Taste is full, salty touch almost. Fruitskins, much more fruit than I remember the version I had to be ( 13 or 14). Nice beer, but not amongst the best of this brewery, even if it's rated as such.
12/IX/20 - 37.5cl bottle @ Cantillon brewery (Brussels), BB: n/a, gonna go out on a limb here, and assume this was the 2019 vintage (2020-891) Thanks to Erwin and ElManana+1 for sharing today’s beers.
Little cloudy deep purple beer, small creamy pinkish to brown red head, pretty stable, non adhesive. Aroma: funky, mildew, cellar, some blackberry jam, funky. MF: ok carbon, medium body. Taste: spicy, cinnamon, acidic, nice acidity though, bitter touch, fruity, blackberry jam. Aftertaste: bit oxidized, fruity, jam, some cinnamon, something a little dirty, soft acidity, funky, some mold.
2019 375ml available at the brewery. Pours a deep purple with a thin off-white head that stays the length of the glass. Aroma is rum raisin, berry, funky, but not overbearing. This beer is soft. It's so light and has an incredibly smooth mouthfeel. Flavors ranging from sweet grass and grain to tart and tannic berry. Leaves the tongue dry and has a nice staying power in the finish. It's a privilege to drink this beer.
37.5cl Bottle shared with Maakun. No vintage on label. Dark purple with thin offwhite head. Massive blueberries, jammy, with some iron metallic notes, fruity, earthy, iron, grape, hint of raspberry. Medium body and soft carbonation.