Released every year since 2009 under the Lips of Faith series, Transatlantique Kriek is one of New Belgium Brewing’s most interesting beers and certainly one of its most well traveled.
According to the brewery, Transatlantique Kriek is an 8 percent ABV1 “spontaneously fermented lambic ale” brewed at the Oud Beersel brewery in the Lembeek region of Belgium with Willamette hops, Morello sour cherries as well as pale, red wheat, carapils and roasted barley malts. The resulting lambic was then shipped to America to be blended with a Belgian-style golden lager, producing a final beer that features a ratio of 45 percent lambic to 55 percent strong golden ale.
The New Belgium website explains further:
This authentic kriek beer began life in the oaken vessels at Gert en Jos Christiaens’ brewery in the Lembeek region of Belgium. After more than two years aging, Oud Beersel’s offering shipped across the Atlantic and found its way to the intuitive palate of New Belgium’s brewmaster, Peter Bouckaert. After much sampling and internal consultation, Peter and his brew staff created a full-bodied Belgian golden lager to round out the light-bodied kriek. The cherry nose gives way to a pleasingly sour flash across the palate that rolls gently into a slightly sweet finish.
Transatlantique Kriek pours a deep burgundy red and features about a finger of pink-white head that dissipates quickly, leaving a lacing of the same color behind. Aroma from the glass is a combination of strong cherries, oak, yeast and slight vegetable earthiness.
Starting out, the Transatlantique Kriek is astringent on the palate with a very noticeable bitterness on the finish. The dominant flavor is definitely an authentic cherry note—thankfully, there is no hint of an artificial flavor at all—along with other notes of oak, wheat, caramel malt, sour raspberries and biscuits. There is a nice creamy body that almost makes up for the close-to-extreme carbonation, and there is no evidence of the 8 percent ABV that I can detect.