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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Weird-Ass Beer of the Week: Hanssens Oudbeitje 2000

Posted By on Tue, May 5, 2009 at 2:01 PM

Some years ago, B. United International, a New York-based importer and distributor, started commissioning limited-edition, vintage-labeled beers, ciders, and sakes intended for aging,  cellaring them until ready to drink, and only then releasing them to market under its Master's Collection label.

Case in point, the Hanssens Oudbeitje Lambic 2000. Hanssens, located in Dworp, Belgium, is not a brewery but a blender: the house buys lambics (beers spontaneously fermented with wild yeast) from breweries, then blends and ages them, playing a role much like that of négociants in the French wine trade. Hanssens started in May 2000 by putting two-year-old lambics from Boon and Girardin into 600-liter wooden barrels with 150 kilos of peak-season fresh strawberries, sparking a secondary fermentation of the sugars in the fruit. The beer aged in the barrels until the following March, when it was bottled.

Remarkably, after all this time, the fresh strawberry aroma is still

quite strong, and combines nicely with the characteristic lambic funk.

However, the berries seemed to be only in the nose; on the palate, I

got only classic, complex aged-lambic flavors of dried fruit, wood, and

cider, which carry through the lingering finish. The flavor is similar to that of the Russian River Sanctification I wrote about in January, but lighter, and softened with age.

This beer is well worth the price (I paid $16 for a 375ml bottle) if you enjoy rare lambics. I had it at The Trappist (460 8th St near Broadway, Oakland), but City Beer (1168 Folsom near 8th) expects to get some in by the end of the week. You might also try Healthy Spirits (2299 15th St near Castro).


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Robert Lauriston


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