We’ve been having some fine weather recently here in chilly Jocko-land. But fine warm weather and a spot of gardening are nothing without someone to hold your hand…or rather something to hold in your hand.
There’s nothing better than sitting back and admiring the results of your horticultural labour while sipping on a tasty brew. By “results of your horticultural labour”, I mean the effort that went into teaching the wife to do a proper job of the weeding; and by “a tasty brew”, in this instance I mean, Boon Framboise.
Brouwerij Boon is housed in a brewery dating from the 1600’s. It’s situated on the banks of the Senne River in the town of Lembeek (see style notes for the significance). Frank Boon, who acquired the the brewery in 1977 and is thought to be the leading revivalist Lambic brewer in Belgium today. They produce a range of lambic beers and use only whole fruits, without the addition of syrups or extracts, for their Kriek and Framboise. This review concerns Boon Framboise.
Lambics are among the oldest beer styles in Belgium and date from before the 13th Century. It is only brewed in and around Brussels and the Senne Valley to the south east, and usually only between October and May as high temperatures can spoil the fermentation.
They’re brewed using 40% unmalted wheat and 60% barley, and undergo a spontaneous fermentation from naturally occurring airborne yeast and bacteria native to that particular area. It is then put into oak casks and matured for 18 months to two years. They are light-bodied, cloudy, very lightly hopped, and slightly sour or citric in taste, and are usually flavoured with fruits such as cherries, raspberries, blackcurrants, etc.
Boon Framboise pours a fairly clear, pinkish-red colour, with masses of rising bubbles, which have more in common with champagne than ale, and lead to a short-lived, pink-tinted head that really doesn’t even attempt to lace the glass.
There’s a lot going on with the aroma, with vine-fruit – I’m thinking plums, and not surprisingly, raspberries. It’s a little sharp, and almost citric, before a mustiness creeps in and dominates.
It’s fairly dry and tart with a sharp, acidic taste that can be almost overwhelming… especially if you’re expecting a Bud Light experience. It’s quite light-bodied, and the mouthfeel is sparkly and bubbly. It has a flowery dryness that’s very wine-like, but the overwhelming flavour is of tart raspberry fruitiness. Although the beer is actually lightly sweetened, it finishes decidedly dry, with a faint citric note.
At 5% ABV, this is definitely not a beer for the beginner. The sour, tart flavours would probably steer you away from beer if this was your first experience. Luckily, I’ve already sampled a beer or two, so I knew what to expect. It’s not a beer that you could easily sit and quaff all evening, but as an occasional, refreshing, Summer’s day tipple.
Apparently, for every litre of Boon Framboise, 220g of raspberries are used, and a small proportion of cherries. Wow, with all that fruit, it only goes to prove that beer IS good for you.
Although lambics are often compared to wine, I would recommend this more as a dessert beer, than an companion to a main course, but don’t take my word for it.
Would I drink it again? – I’m bound to.