Expanding the Mind and Palate
A Review of Spontankriek by Mikkeller
Posted on 3/31/2014 by Chops
                   
Great
Trying new things is not only encouraged in the craft beer world, it is somewhat of a requirement. After all, you can only gather perspective by expanding your palate. Craft beer is an ever expanding universe and it takes a lot of time and effort to keep up. Beer styles come and go all the time. Many are forgotten, some are even resurrected. So when something new catches your eye at the beer store, it is well worth a try even if you have absolutely no idea what it is. For all you know, it could be your new favorite beer or style.

I have uncovered quite a few gems this way and regardless of whether you end up liking it or not, the experience will always be educational. For this reason, I made it a personal habit of taking home at least one mystery brew from every restocking trip to the beer store, the latest of which was the Mikkeller Spontankriek.

After getting this strange bottle home, I started doing a little research on the kriek beer style. As it turns out, kriek is a style of Belgian fruit lambic made by fermentation with sour Morello cherries. The term ''kriek'' is actually a Flemish word that refers to this specific type of cherry. Traditional versions use the ''Schaarbeekse krieken'', a rare Belgian cherry varietal that grows around Brussels. As with other lambics, kriek uses spontaneous fermentation with airborne yeast, hence the name Spontankriek.

See what I mean? Your craft beer mind has just been expanded. Now onto the palate...

In the glass, this beer had a deep and hazy red coloration, which I can only assume is from the cherries. It came with a frothy pink head that had really nice retention. At first glance, this looked like a sweet dessert beer. But alas, lambics are well known for their sour punch, so I cautiously brought nose to rim. I was greeted by a burst of tart cherries churning on top of a dank woody base. Swirling around the mix were notes of fruitcake and green apples. This beer also had a strong barnyard funkiness that you would commonly associate with the Brettanomyces strain of yeast. Wow, talk about a brain bender. I had no idea what to expect from that first sip. I could only take a deep breath and follow it up with a wary taste.

Sweet mercy, where to start. How about with the fact that this beer tasted like liquefied cherry sour candies, but in a really good way. The tart cherry notes were beyond dominant, which I would imagine is the point. Once I muscled through that potent layer, other notes began to emerge. I found some lemony citrus, funky sourdough bread, a touch of vanilla, and what I can only describe as mossy wood. If there was a hop profile, it was either too faint to notice or it was overpowered by fruity tartness. The body was light, tangy, and felt decently pleasant on the palate. The finish was quite tart and exited with a sour fruity aftertaste.

Overall, the Mikkeller Spontankriek was a strangely rewarding brew. I really enjoyed it, especially as a fan of strong sour fruity flavors. Anyone who is familiar with the lambic beer style already knows how tart they can taste. Now amplify said lambic with an addition fermentation blast of tart cherries and you have kriek, a face-puckering treat for any beer fan with resilient taste buds. This was my very first experience with the style, and seeing as how this was a Mikkeller creation, I would assume there are milder versions out there. Regardless, my curiosity has been hooked and I look forward to a further exploration of the style. I tip my drinking hat to Mikkeller for yet another expansion of mind and palate.

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Spontankriek by Mikkeller
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