Review: Verhaeghe Echt Kriekenbier

Review of Verhaeghe Echt Kriekenbier from Brouwerij Verhaeghe in Vichte, Belgium.

Beer Type: Kriek  ABV: 6.8%  Tried on draught.

Their Description: “Echt Kriekenbier, (real cherry beer) is as the name suggests a cherry beer that is manufactured with only the real fruit of cherries instead of with flavor enhancers or extracts of cherries. The fruit is sourced from the region around Sint-Truiden in Limburg (Belgium). Unlike the most famous fruit beers is the basic beer of the “real cherry beer” not a Lambic but a West-Flemish red-brown ale aged in oak wood. About mid-July at the picking, the Northern cherries are brought in at the brewery and laid in on the base beer. Because the taste of the cherry fruit varies from year to year and this according to the number of hours of sunshine or rain, the kriekenbier at its final composition is blended with cherry beer from the year before and two-year old cherry beer. This with the intention of becoming a more constant taste of the “real cherry beer” over the years.”

The Reality: This beer is a dark red color and carries the aroma of cherry fruit with a mild funk. The flavor is quite sour up front, and drinks like a sour beer, but fades to a cherry sweetness with a hint of oak. It drinks extra dry with a high level of effervescence. The aftertaste has a sticky quality about it at first but this is quickly washed away by the overall dryness.

Final Verdict: This is a really good sour cherry beer done in the traditional Belgian style. Any sweetness that the cherry and oak wood aging provide are just supporting actors to the tart funky goodness, and that’s how I like it. It’s decently complex for a beer of this type, most likely due to the barrel aging and blending. The toughest thing about this beer is recommending it to others. Every time I was at a loud crowded bar and shouted “You should try the ECHT KRIEKENBIER!”, people just kept saying “Bless You” or “Gesundheit”.