Apple pie in a tulip glass.
While I have a bit of a weakness for fruit-tinged beer (like the Dark Horse Tres and Beer Works Watermelon Ale), I’m still a a newbie to the world of lambics. Brewed in a similar manner to traditional ales, the major difference in making lambics is the fermentation; a spontaneous open-air process that exposes the wort to wild yeast and bacteria. This type of fermentation is the main reason for the unique flavor of Belgian lambics – dry, cidery and often sour.
Although they are probably most famous for their Delirium (Nocturnum, Noel and Tremens) beers here in the US, the Brouwerij Huyghe brews scores of beers in many different styles. Along with at least one other lambic, Huyghe brews a number of different Belgian-style lights, darks, dubbels, tripels, sours and strongs. With better-than-decent distribution here in the US, if you’re looking to try some authentic Belgian beer, something from Huyghe will be among the easiest to find.
With some positive fruit beer reviews from other bloggers recently, I approached this brew with a good deal of optimism. I picked up a 330ml bottle at RSVP for about 5 bucks, and the label promised a 3.5% ABV beer “brewed with apples and spices.” I had the Floris Apple this afternoon, poured into a Leute tulip glass.
As soon as the beer started to pour out of the bottle, I could tell I was in for apple overload. An apple cider aroma filled my kitchen once the beer hit the glass, along with the sharp spicyness of a Belgian ale. The aroma is more funk than apple orchard, with tart and sour making it through my nose and to my tastebuds. The spices smell like sugar and cinnamon, the first hint of the apple pie-ness of this brew. The beer is physically gorgeous, cloudy and practically glowing gold. The Floris is a bit darker and thicker-looking than apple cider, with a fluffy head that never completely disappears.
The flavor is, as I said, pure apple pie. Specifically, a Granny Smith apple pie with cinnamon and brown sugar. The first taste from a sip is sweet brown sugar, almost cloyingly sweet for someone used to British and American ales. The sweetness fades to tart apple pretty quickly, and this Granny Smith flavor sticks around through a dry, spicy finish. There is a lot going on in the Floris Apple, with various sweet and sour flavors – sugar, butter, wheat and cherry, for example – coming through. The beer is surprisingly crisp and dry for such a sweet beer, with a body and mouthfeel pretty close to cider or apple juice. At such a low ABV and with so much flavor, I found myself wanting another by the time I got to the end of my glass.
In his great book Tasting Beer, Randy Mosher talks about how powerful taste and smell are in beer because they can subconciously trigger memories in the drinker. Drinking the Floris Apple definitely takes me to a comfortable and happy place. If you associate apple pie with warm and fuzzy memories, you might be surprised by the great emotions that the Floris brings out in you. If not – well, it’s still a damn tasty brew. Bursting with flavor but light and crisp, right now is the perfect time of year to try your first lambic.