Lindemans may claim a history going back to 1811, but these days it's one of the big national brands in Belgium, with all that entails. So I wasn't really expecting a whole lot from Kriek Cuvée René, despite the numbered champagne bottle proclaiming the 2010 vintage, bottled in October 2011 and good for six years past that: anyone can fake that sort of thing. The blood-red beer which poured forth did little to assuage my cynicism. Proper aged kriek is nowhere near as gaudy, everyone knows that.
But Cuvée René is actually pretty stunning. It's merely intensely dry rather than full-on sour, but there's not a trace of the cloying sugar you so often get with mass-market lurid krieks. The nitre brick cellar flavour I always enjoy in this style is mostly absent, but there is still a gentle mouldy damp funk, melding seamlessly into sweet-sour cherry. I think the term I'm looking for is balance: not normally a feature of artisan kriek, but something it seems the corporate suits are able to bring to the party without ruining everyone's enjoyment.
This is a possible gateway between the alcopoppy candy lambics and the more serious stuff, but far more importantly it's just a really enjoyable beer.
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