Pours dark, cloudy amber to brown. Small to no white head. Scent is robust, heavy 'feel' to it. Bit faded chocolate, amber malts. Taste is sharp, tart, intense on body and intensity, very malty backbone. Not overly caramelly - which I was afraid for. instead this is a full, tasty, malty beer with a long finish, and another proof Lambiekfabriek is a rising star !
Light brown colour with lasting thin head and light haze. Aroma is very grainy and more like a young lambic than an old gueuze. Taste has a pleasant sweet/sharp mix. Leans towards Vlaams Bruin but less harsh and vinegary. Nice oakiness. Full bodied.
Long before the advent of ‘craft beer’ in Belgium, in a time when traditional beer styles led a much quieter life with only industrial pale lager to worry about, I was already wondering why none of the lambic producers of the time had the curiosity to alter the malt bill and use dark malts in spontaneous fermentation as an experiment – but times were far less adventurous then, and apart from experiments with fruit here and there (and the odd exception from Cantillon, such as Iris), I guess the dynamics in creating new variants were very different back then. Since those days, a few one-off lambics have been made with dark malts, by Cantillon (Zwanze 2015) and 3 Fonteinen (the Nocturnes in the Twists of Fate pool), alleviating my curiosity – unsurprisingly perhaps, these dark lambics bear more than one resemblance with oud bruin. I was still surprised, however, when I encountered this one: neophyte (compared with the abovementioned ones at least) Lambiek Fabriek decided to also use dark (caramelized) malts in lambic to see what that gives, with this Caram-Elle as the end result. Thick and frothy, off-white, dense, closed, bit irregular head, hazy ‘dirty’-brownish to amber-blonde hue, indeed notably darker than, say, Bret-Elle. Aroma of sour unripe nectarines, wild apples, sherry vinegar, yellow plum, wet oak wood to even oak furniture, rhubarb, touch caramel indeed and even some ‘hidden’ butterscotch, oloroso, dry earth. Crisply tart onset, sour grape, crabapple, rhubarb, unripe stonefruit; very lively effervescence, explaining the – for lambic – remarkable stability of the head, I suppose (even a bit stingy at first). More rounded body than usual but also vinous, very pleasant; smooth rusk- and bread crust-like malts alongside the wheat, like a dark wholegrain bread in a certain sense, but later on, a caramelly sweetness also pierces through – a bit in contrast with the drying lactic and other sours of the lambic, perhaps, but all the more interesting; it even absorbs part of the acidity. Colourful oakiness in the finish, along with lingering caramelly malts, a complex of fruity and lactic sours, light Bretty ‘funky’ touches and an earthy note; things are eventually rounded off by a late but deep ‘old hop’ bitter aspect, still soaked in vinosity and tart fruitiness – while even that malty, sweetish caramelliness persists more and longer than I was expecting. Bright, fruity, complex and warming ‘brown lambic’, less oud bruin-like than expected while still more or less comparable with it – but more than anything, a unique sour, a malt-forward lambic if you will, which, who knows, could be the starting point of a whole new generation of lambics. I can already imagine this one being treated with cherries or other fruits, for example. In any case original – and utterly delicious.