Having bought the Liefmans Kriek in Brussels last winter, intending to save it for some balmy summer afternoon, I finally admitted defeat. After the third crappy summer in a row, a cold wet autumn evening was deemed a sufficiently special occasion to unwrap the paper and pop the cork.
I first discovered this beer about five years ago in Amsterdam's Café Belgique and was very impressed from the get-go. I have catholic tastes in kriek and will happily chug the light sugary ones, like Timmerman's, but also enjoy taking some time over the sharper, more cerebral craft krieks like Cantillon Lou Pepe. Liefmans occupies a wonderful space right between the two varieties.
The base beer is unambiguously sour, but the cherries add a lip-smacking sweet fruitiness which dominates the flavour yet avoids tipping over into cloying syrupy yuck. The natural carbonation is soft, making it a very drinkable beer, and one which is highly refreshing when served cold; but there's also a satisfying warmth to it, derived from the hefty 6% ABV.
Whatever you're looking for in a kriek, this one can substitute nicely.