While Brasserie-Brouwerij Cantillon produces a number of semi-regularly available beers every year, perhaps the most well known is Rosé de Gambrinus.

The traditional framboise is a 5.5 percent ABV blend of lambic beers conditioned on whole pre-frozen raspberries in steel tanks for between two and three months. Before being bottled, “young” lambic is added to the mix to aid secondary fermentation.

Cantillon’s website has more information on the brewing process:

The raspberries are from Serbia and the fruit is blended with lambic that is on average 20 months old, the proportion being 300 g of fruit per litre of beer. Since raspberries are delicate it is necessary to select a lambic that is both mellow and subtle so that it will be a good match for the fruit. After soaking for two to three months, the lambic has extracted the full colours, fragrances and flavours of the raspberries. At that point it is blended with one-year-old lambic, which contributes the sugars necessary for secondary fermentation in the bottle.

Although Cantillon has been making framboise since 1909—shortly after it was founded in 1900—the name Rosé de Gambrinus was first used on a bottle in 1986. That release incorporated a two-year-old base lambic that was brewed in 1984.

Rosé de Gambrinus is sold in both 375ml and 750ml corked bottles, and while the vast majority of the bottles that are produced stay in the brewery’s home country, a very limited amount make it to the United States every year. In addition, while the price at Cantillon stays relatively stable1 at around $12 for a 750ml and $7 for a 375ml, prices in the U.S. are higher and can be as much as $50 for a 750ml at retailers.

The Rosé de Gambrinus pours a clear, bright ruby red color, with plenty of carbonation leading to at least a finger of pink head that sticks around for quite a while and leaving a think lacing behind. Aroma from the glass is dominated by raspberry stems, with lesser notes of cheese, tea leaves, funky blanket and lemons bringing up the rear.

Starting out, the Rosé de Gambrinus is quite acidic on the palate with a bit of vinegar and signature funk combining with raspberries and straw and lemons on the finish. As it warms, the raspberry notes take over the dominant spot, almost like I am eating eating the whole plant: leaves, stems, fruit and all. There is a sweetness underneath the other flavors, and while it does become more noticeable as the beer warms, it is never such an overt note that it really impacts the profile all that much. Carbonation is excellent, and stays fairly consistent as the beer warms, while the finish is bone dry.

Cantillon Rosé de Gambrinus (2016)
BREWERY: Brasserie-Brouwerij Cantillon
LOCATION: Anderlecht, Brussels
STYLE: Framboise
ABV: 5.5 percent
IBU: n/a
PRICE: n/a
RELEASE DATE: 1909 (Bottled, 2016)
AVAILABLE IN: 375ml bottles; 750ml bottles
BEERS POURED: One
If I had to use one word to describe this beer, it would be bright. The color, the flavors, the carbonation—are all bursting with brightness. Not surprisingly, the raspberries are the star of the show on the finish, but there was quite a bit more sourness on the palate than I was expecting. At this point in its life it is not the most balanced of beers, with the aforementioned sourness, funk and overt grassy raspberries basically punching you in the face with every sip. Having said all of that, this is a very good beer now, but this specific vintage needs a bit of time to meld and I expect it will gain quite a bit more complexity and nuance as it ages.
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