Crikey, It’s Real Kriekenbier!

Jim Lundstrom

Oh, my, that is one Echt Kriekenbier. Let me translate for you – that is one “real cherry beer.”

Yes, this Belgian cherry ale is called Echt Kriekenbier. It’s a West Flemish red-brown ale that is infused with whole Belgian cherries and then matured in oak casks.

This is a tremendous sour cherry ale with a sharp, dry Champagne-like finish. Cherry Champagne, that is.

Before you reach that fabulous finish, the malty underpinnings of the red-brown ale – also known as Oud Bruin, or Old Brown – appear, creating a big O of perfectly symmetrical flavor that explosively unrolls across your palate. And then that dry finish implodes everything into a tingly pucker. Let’s call it a cherry bomb.

This delicious 6.8 percent kriek is made by Brewery Verhaege of Vichte, Belgium, makers of one of my great true loves, a Flemish red known as Duchesse De Bourgogne.

The brewery website says the tart cherries used in Echt Kriekenbier are “sourced from the region around Sint-Truiden in Limburg (Belgium),” an area renowned for its clay soils and fruit-growing capacities.

The website goes on to explain that because the taste of the cherries changes every year based on whatever weather the fruits must endure, the brewery achieves constancy of flavor by combining fresh, new batches of their kriek with one- and two-year-old versions of the beer.

The “best before” date is stamped on the cork of the 22-oz. bomber bottle version, which is what I had. Mine was stamped June 2018. I will have to buy another bottle and put it away for a couple of years to see where it goes. But I also kind of like where it is right now.

Ah, to be a wealthy man. What a beer cellar I would have! And I could just drink without having to write about each exciting new beer. I could just keep it to myself. Ah, a guy can still dream in this country, can’t he? Well, if not, at least he most definitely can drink Echt Kriekenbier, which is just like living the dream.