Van Honsebrouck’s “lambic” program grew out of the struggle to keep business growing after WWII in the 40’s and 50’s. Belle-Vue’s gueuze caught the eye of Paul and Luc Van Honsebrouck in 1950 when its sales began to take off. To meet the demand for the product their drinks company was experiencing, they kept purchasing crate after crate and selling out. Eventually, they decided that instead of buying someone else’s beer to sell they should make their own version. They owned a brewery after all.
To start with, they went the blender’s route and purchased inoculated wort from the now defunct Van Haelen Brothers. This wort went into their oak and helped to impregnate the wood with the new microflora. St. Louis Gueuze was born. At this point in its life, St Louis Gueuze was like Belle-Vue’s: sweetened and filtered.
At one point they took some of their own wort to the Pajottenland, the traditional home of the Lambic, but to no avail. Eventually, they decided the brewery was the home of the microflora they needed to create their completely independent lambic-style beer. They were right. Years of Van Haelen wort had created a nice environment to make spontaneously fermented beer at the Van Honsebrouck’s West Flanders brewery. Soon, St. Louis Gueuze and fruit lambics were completely independent from the Pajottenland.
It wasn’t until the late ’90s that the St. Louis line took the next step in its evolution when brewing student and beer writer Jef Van den Steen challenged Luc to make a “serious” version of the beer, one that was unfiltered and unsweetened, as a way to garner more respect from the traditional Oude Gueuze makers. St. Louis Gueuze Fond Tradition was born. The next iteration of the Fond Tradition line, like its spontaneously fermented neighbors, would come in the form of an ultra traditional Kriek. St. Louis Kriek Fond Tradition is brewed with whole cherries, pits and all, to give it that full, truly rich cherry lambic experience.
Appearance: Deep plum purple/red, light purple head, solid retention.
Aroma: Bing cherries, lemon, currants, mint, hints of funk,blackberries, cranberries, herbal notes.
Taste: pie cherries, cranberries, herbal notes, berries.
Overall Impression: This is definitely an underrated sour cherry beer. It’s a new addition to the US market and certainly isn’t as recognized as the Oude Krieks of the Pajottenland. It’s elegantly tart with a rich cherry flavor and aroma. Keep an eye out for it, it’s a super nice Kriek worth the taste.
Availability: Nationally where Global Beer Network beers are sold.