Cantillon Fou’ Foune
Cantillon Fou’ Foune
ABV: 5.00 %
I attended the Shelton Brothers Post-Litigation Celebration last Friday at the Louisville Beer Store. If I’m honest, I didn’t go “because of Fou’ Foune,” exactly: I actually didn’t know much about Cantillon’s apricot lambic until the drive down. A friend told me it was a rare drink. LBS were selling bottles and pouring drafts, so why not go try it?
Beer geeks may be chewing their tongues right now.
Admittedly, I’m not the biggest craft brew whale-chaser. But there is something exciting about drinking a beer that sees fewer than 800 gallons of annual production worldwide. Cantillon apparently gets 1.2 metric tons of apricots from their growers to create their yearly batch of apricot lambic. For non-mathletes like me, that’s over three pounds of apricots per gallon of brew; it’s over a quarter of a pound per pint; it’s like a third of an apricot per gulp! (I went a little wild with the calculator.) So it better be good, right?
The bartenders started pouring drafts at 6pm.
The beer poured a pale, foggy orange. It had an almost two-dimensional opaque wholeness. The delicate white head only rimmed the edge of the glass, and it dissipated quickly.
I put the brew to my nose and I inhaled. Let me tell you: this is a great lambic to sip, but I think the real reason for its accolades is the aroma. Cantillon Fou’ Foune smells like the most extraordinary million-dollar apricot. It is somehow perfectly ripe, yet ideally candied. It’s clean, and almost impossibly succulent. It smells vibrant. It wills you to drink it.
So I drank. The tart, dry shock bloomed at either corner of my jaw, and I had to smile. The draft had a slightly effervescent mouth-feel, but drier and mustier than the juicy aroma would suggest. It was robustly sour and acidic, but nothing overwhelmed the funky-apricot, slight-lemon base. I got hints of oak, and grass, and delightful lambic weirdness. Primarily though, Fou’ Foune showcased a dry, tart punch and seriously ripe fruit. The aftertaste was all apricot and tang. The sour zing left just enough pucker to make me want to sip again – immediately.
And I did. Around me, the amiable crowd of LBS swooned over various Cantillon pours. I appreciate the jovial kinship of mutual fancy beer admiration.
I won’t pretend to understand the nuances of the Shelton Brothers case, nor will I offer an opinion. I don’t know nearly enough about it. I do know that Dan Shelton offered a toast to good beer, and he indicated that it is our mutual interest to protect good beer.
I inhaled deeply into my glass, happily agreeing.
Just before LBS started the Cantillon pour, a stranger and had I both asked to buy a Fou’ Foune bottle. The bartender returned to inform us that we had a decision to make: “There’s only one left,” he said. Not having tried the beer yet, I had deferred to my competitor.
“You can take it,” I had said.
She had replied that she visited specifically to buy a bottle, so she appreciated my generosity.
Later, pondering my empty glass, I wondered if I should have been more immature.