Valentine’s Day has always been a bit of a quandary for me. It is, of course, manufactured and tacky as hell; the sight of a pink plush heart confuses me no end. However, I’m of the school of thought that you should seize any and every excuse for a celebration, whether it be a monthly anniversary, Valentine’s Day, or just a Thursday evening. In light of this, in addition to buying us a new board game (Catopoly, anyone?!) and booking us on a Haunted Underground Manchester Experience with the rather marvellous Mr Flecky Bennett – which would I highly recommend, by the way -, I thought that I should take this opportunity to buy a few bottles of beautiful sours. Happy Valentine’s Day to my palate, I love ya baby!
Following an afternoon meeting in the Northern Quarter, I had half an hour to kill before my bar shift started, so I rushed into the Beermoth on Tib Street and began frantically scanning through the shelves. Luckily, one of the chaps who runs the place kindly took pity on my slightly flustered demeanour, and helped me find what I was looking for. It was a hard choice, but I finally settled on three bottles: one I knew far too well, and two I had never tried before.
First up was an old favourite: Cantillon Kriek (5%).We all know this one. It’s not my absolute top beer from the Cantillon brewery – that would be the Rosé de Gambrinus, one of my favourite beers of all time -, but it’s still pretty ruddy excellent. Big sour cherries, a good straightforward kriek. You should be drinking glasses of this in a beer garden on a summer’s day. Idyllic.
The next bottle was from De Ranke, a brewery which is new to me. De Ranke Kriek (7%) was, if you’ll excuse my language, fucking glorious. A side note: if you have an issue with swearing, you’d better not bother spending any time with me; my speech patterns frequently elicit the comment “you swear a lot for a posh girl”. First off, I’m really not that posh, and second of all, bugger off. Anyway, this little beast was tart, dry, and funky as anything, with a big cherry hit. The Mr found it far too sour and mouth-puckering. A glorious recommendation from the Beermoth, thank you, chaps!
The last beer I tried from this particular haul was the Against The Grain Chris Framboise (7.5%), a bretty raspberry saison. I know that some people online haven’t particularly rated this beer, but I thought it was genuinely very good. It took a little while to grow on me, but once I’d got my head around it, I realised that the fact that this beer is so laid back and subtle is part of its joy. It’s really mellow, but there’s a lot going on: fruit and funk, intermingled in a way that’s like having the perfect lie-in on a Sunday morning. It soothes your soul. Don’t try and drink this in a pub, or after strongly flavoured beers or food. It deserves quiet, dedicated, attention.
So, we’ve had the familiar old standard which you know can do it for you, the new and exciting yet almost too extreme character, and the subtle individual who, once you commit, is highly rewarding… Sounds like a list of my past boyfriends! I can’t wait to get back to the Cantillon brewery at some point this year, and drink some Lou Pepe, or Fou’ Foune. Dear gods, I do just adore sour fruity beer. If it’s not something you’ve explored in great depth thus far, let this be your year. Your face deserves it.