I make no apologies for having another love-it-or-hate-it beer at number three in my top ten. Kriek beer – the third and final Belgian beer in this list – is beer flavoured with cherries, and when it’s done well it is absolutely bloody fantastic. When it’s not done so well, it’s still pretty good.
Kriek beer originated when brewers made beer in the Anderlecht suburb of Belgium’s capital city, Brussels. This area boasts naturally occurring yeast in the air, so beer can be brewed without directly adding it.
The downside to this process, as anyone who has tried the end product (“Geuze”) will tell you, is that it tastes awful. So the brewers came up with the idea of adding fruit to the beer to give it taste, rather than hops. There are raspberry beers, apricot beers, apple, peach and blackcurrant beers but the best by far are the cherry beers.
There are hundreds of different brands of kriek beers. Far from being the original alcopop, the stronger the kriek is, the more it will taste like a beer rather than cherryade.
Some favour Kasteel Rouge at 8%, although my personal favourite is Bacchus – a more sensible 5.8% and served in glass bottles with champagne corks and wrapping paper. Bottles of Bacchus can be found in most supermarkets for around £3, but if you fancy it in a bar you will be looking at paying upwards of £5 for what is only a 375ml bottle.
Some bars in the UK now sell it on draft – dangerous (on the wallet and the liver), as it is the most gluggable beer I have ever had.