Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Brett and Fruit: GT Dave Kombucha, Cantillon Rose de Gambrinus



As a kid I used to eat lemons. When life gave me lemons, I might have made lemonade, but with, at most, half the sugar a typical recipe would suggest. I also loved fizzy drinks, except for soda, which of course was too sweet. As a substitute for soda, I used to mix Perrier with fruit juices. Orange juice and perrier, which I dubbed an 'oobie,' started my whole range of drinks, which would become popular with family, less so with friends. When I started getting into wine, I would satisfy my need for fizz and acidity by drinking champagne, cava, cremant d'Alsace, sekt, basically any well made sparkling wine. Recently I have expanded my horizons: during the day I satisfy my craving for tart and fizzy by drinking kombucha, and at night I have started to enjoy the occasional lambic, or Belgian fruit beer.

Kombucha is basically a type of sweetened tea that is slowly, naturally fermented over the course of 30 days. Aiding the fermentation are acetobacter bacteria (used in vinegar production) and several different yeasts, including brettanomyces. These days it is often flavored with fruit. Some CO2 is trapped in the bottle which makes the drink a bit fizzy. My only experience has been with the GT Dave brand, whose flavors I find to be uniformly delicious; try the grape, mango, and strawberry varieties - awesome with a sandwich or simply on their own for a late afternoon boost.

Lambics are spontaneously fermented Belgian beers. They have a strong acetic acid tang, as well as some barnyard like flavors due to the high count of brettanomyces in the brew. Often times the fruit beers you see in stores are sweetened for the mass market, and may not even be based on lambic beers. Cantillon, on the other hand, does things traditionally and naturally. Their rose de gambrinus is based on their geuze (a blend of 1 and 2-3 year old lambics) flavored with fresh raspberries, giving it an intense pink color. At first I loved the beer, with its refreshing framboise flavors and pleasant bitter snap to the finish. However, the more I drank I could not get over the increasingly persistent bitterness, which honestly came across as very bile-like. That right there might have been a deal breaker for many of you, and of course bitter, sour beers are not for everyone. But they're definitely worth a try, especially when made by a brewery as revered and respected by beer afficionados as Cantillon.

7 comments:

jz1 said...

Do you drink the Trinity one with the nasty ugly stuff floating around in it? I've had it a few times - hard to get down, but really gives you a health buzz!

Joe M. said...

The Trinity is the one with ginger, raspberry and lemon? All of these have the stuff floating around; that's just the strands of the culture used for the fermentation. You can shake it up to break these up (just be careful it doesn't explode, remember it's carbonated) or if you're at home you could strain out the gloop.

David McDuff said...

My wife loves the Kombucha but, as much as I want to, I don't dig its vinegary aspect. Cantillon, on the other hand... though I do prefer the Kriek, which is insanely dry and tart, to the Gambrinus.

Brian said...

Heck...when I can tear myself away from the idiot box, I was planning on pouring one of these wierd teas myself!

The evil green monster (Whole foods) had them on sale for 20% off where I usually bought them.

Joe M. said...

Brian - Definitely try them. It could even make a good pairing with the TV, if it's the right show. I wouldn't know for sure though since I'm not up on the current programs. If you like grape I would try that one first - it's one of the least funky flavors.

Andrea Nix said...

My favs are Mango and the green foods one (which I can't recall the name for). You get all that--typically expensive-- blue green algae, chlorella and spirulina for no extra charge. Wow! Major funds bonus on an already awesome health drink! Nice of G.T. to do that.

Joe Manekin said...

Andrea -

Yes, Kombucha GT Dave is a giver. I've cut back on my consumption, though, since my girlfriend has started making her own. No fruit flavors yet, but it has turned out pretty good!