Howdy Sour Beer Fans!
I recently had the chance to taste a favorite of mine, Hanssens Oude Kriek. I often drink gueuze and kriek from these outstanding blenders but just realized there was no review of Hanssens Oude Kriek posted to the site. Well, don’t worry! Your old pal Sour Brew has got you covered. For me, Hanssens ranks up there with Drie Fonteinen and Cantillon when it comes to producing delicious gueuze and fruit lambics, but is often overlooked when compared to the more famous lambic brewers and blenders. However, Hanssens Oude Kriek is very much a world-class example of the style.
When poured, Hanssens Oude Kriek fills the glass with a crystal clear crimson red, topped with a beautiful pinkish white head that dissipates quickly. The complex aromas start strong with lactic acid, cherries, and sourdough. I was then hit with the smell of hay, leather, mustiness (like a basement) and cherry wine. It was all rounded out by a pleasant oak character reminiscent of saw dust and wet paper.
Hanssens products have a classic and very distinctive house flavor, and this kriek fully showcases it. This Hanssens “funk” is a mixture of Brettanomyces flavors and aromas in the earthy, wood, animal, and savory categories with a huge lactic acid tang and a light to moderate level of ethyl acetate which gives the souring in their blends a sharp edge. In their Oude Kriek, this is followed by a punch of tart cherry puree or pie filling that reminds me of the outside of Sour Patch Kids. It’s surprising how muted the wood flavors are considering how much oak was present in the aroma. The esters and perceived sweetness derived from the cherries add a balance to the strong sourness. This is definitely a beer that a new sour fan will have to sip on a few times to let your mouth adjusts to the high acidity. On a side note, unlike Hanssens Oude Gueuze, their kriek has far less grain / barrel astringency. These flavors are instead concealed by the strong and pronounced cherry taste.
Not to harp on the flavor, but the vanilla and almond in this kriek is exquisite, on par with a Drie Fonteinen Oude Kriek. Every sip finishes with tart cherry, followed by a dryness that keeps you going back for more. When first tasting this beer, you get a strong up-front acidity, but as the kriek warms, and the cherries really take the stage, it becomes almost a tart juice or wine. Allowing the beer to warm also lets loose the leathery Brett, dough, hay, and even more almondy cherry pits. This oude kriek is also highly carbonated, with a light to medium body.
Hanssens is one kriek that I try to keep stocked in my cellar whenever possible. This oude kriek is usually cheaper and often more readily available then other krieks of the same caliber. If you need more convincing, I also suggest reading our reviews on Hanssens Oude Gueuze and Experimental Raspberry Lambic. Better get them before they become #whalez Bro!
As always, keep it funky!
Cale “Sour Brew” Baker