What is kriek style beer?
One of my first encounters with kriek-style beer was at The Sovereign Bar, located in Washington. I had the opportunity to choose a variety from an extensive vintage collection in one of the best beer bars in the country. How can you miss such a chance?
When I went into the temperature-controlled room, I was greeted by shelves filled to the brim with the best samples of beer from around the world. It was awesome. After I tasted the varieties from De Ranke, Cantillon and 3 Fonteinen, I was offered to try the Oude Kriek Cuvée René from the Lindemans Brewery. I have already tried this variety in the past, but I don’t think I have ever carefully analyzed every sip, as it did then at The Sovereign. It was … difficult, but in a good way. I have always considered this style quite aggressive – it is quite tart and sour, and it even feels on tooth enamel. However, the complexity and depth of this beer continued to drag me in with every sip.
Years later, I looked at the beer collection that was edited by Hop Culture magazine and realized that we had several kriek-style beers that were gathering dust on the shelf. I thought it was time to return to such a complex and interesting style and enjoy the bright red Belgian beer.
Kriek is a Flemish word used to refer to cherries. More specifically, for the designation of sour cherries varieties Morello. Historically, this style was produced in Belgium. Whole berries of fresh or mashed cherries were added to the lambic (no seeds were extracted). After aging for several months, the resulting beer was blended with fresh lambic and bottled. The kriek style falls into the category of fruit lambics, which also includes pêche (lambic with peach) and cassis (lambic with blackcurrant).
Lambic and other sour beer guide
Belgian breweries such as Cantillon, Boon and 3 Fonteinen produce outstanding kriek styles. Sour cherries, historically used to make such a beer, grew in an area that ran along the Senna River Valley (Payottenland region, near Brussels). Today, this cherry variety has become quite popular, making kriek common throughout Belgium. The style is recreated in other countries, for example, in the USA.
“Kriek, in the modern sense of the word, is a fairly broad interpretation of the style,” says Joe Connolly, director of the Springdale brewery, which is a division of Jack’s Abby. – From the traditional beer fermented with the help of spontaneous fermentation and aged on whole berries of cherry to an indefinite line of acidic varieties, in which a large number of different varieties of cherries were added.
Beer with added fruit is not a new experience for American beer lovers. Spontaneous fermentation and the addition of fruit to beer is excellently obtained at the breweries Black Project, Allagash, Homage Brewing, Une Année. In turn, the new wave breweries, Burley Oak and Hudson Valley, produce excellent “sour” using kettle sour technology and subsequent exposure to a variety of fruits. But is there such a thing as an “American” kriek?
“I’m not sure there is an“ American ”kriek, says James Priest, founder of The Referend Bier Blendery’s brewery. – Breweries are just trying to make their best product. They add the freshest local fruits and berries, without looking back at the stylistic homogeneity.
Perhaps it would be more correct to treat American variations of the kriek style simply as a beer, the production of which used spontaneous fermentation and cherry berries. Thus, historical conformity to the kriek style, which is an exclusively Belgian prerogative, will not “pressure” them.
For kriek beer, the authentic, signature flavor is far more important than color.
“Style depends on the quality of the berries,” Priest says. – The quality of the base beer is important and should complement the taste. Even if the basis of the future beer is a little “boring,” it can nevertheless be perfectly beaten by adding quality fruits and berries. I refuse to drink beer, the “fruitiness” of which is recreated by adding syrups and extracts. You cannot fake the cherry flavor. You need real berries.