Name – Grand Cru
Brewer – Rodenbach
Classification – Unique... and that's about as kind as this review is going to get.
Strength – 6% ABV
Verdict - At A Glance
On the eye – Darkest autumnal reds and copper. At the viewing stage - you'd think this was beer.
On the nose – Sweet vinegar. Burnt glacé cherries on PCP.
On the tongue – Can I skip this...please! Just read on...
On the subject – This beer is one of the great feats of all human endeavour...apparently. Why do I feel like the guy pointing at the naked Emperor?
On the market – I'm electing not to say. (I'm unwilling to actively help you to do this to yourselves.)
On the whole – 3.5/10 (A score of any sort is to honour the fact that it made an impact - by golly did it do that – and that's more than can be said for some mass market beverages.)
This beer made me feel like a visitor from space.
In fact, after a single sip, I was no longer a resident of the Milky Way....I didn't know quite where I was, but I certainly wasn't in Kansas any more.
I was a cosmic pioneer in a distant galaxy, sampling the curious liquids of a semi-humanoid race who dwell on the gaseous planet of 'Sherb-hurt' – named in honour of their highly prized adult confectionery drink, which has many similar properties and a slightly similar name to a certain sweet treat back in my own world. Although, the version back in my own world was always known to bring pleasure, which this alien brew clearly was not.
Here on this strange new world, 'sherbet' really does 'hurt.'
Please forgive this unhelpful flight of fancy, but I'm having to speak figuratively to avoid any direct recollection of the experience I just endured.
I remember reading an item about this beer many moons ago, in which a fairly eminent beer expert told the reader not to be put off by their first experience of it, warning the uninitiated about the extremities of taste which lie in wait behind the glass.
Not many beers are introduced with such words of caution... and in my mind, that's a good thing.
And today, turning to the web for more information in something of a mild panic, I found various claims that the taste of this liquid is 'acquired.' Still in the unrelenting grip of the drink at this point, these claims merely brought to mind various other things which might somehow be 'acquired.'
Foot and mouth.
And bad debts.
The point is, if I tried this beer a thousand times I would never like it, and what's more... along the way I would have become miserable with a wild intensity of the kind that even this drink couldn't hope to equal.
If I can briefly bring myself to recall – it essentially drinks like a fruit beer (cherry is the nearest I can get) which has been laced with peach vodka, poured into a half-full jar of Marmite and left on a jungle floor to evolve and mutate for several decades.
The reality, though, is that this is a 'combination' of a 'young beer' and another beer which has been left to 'mature for two years in oak casks'.
Left by who, I can't help but wonder? And was it left there on purpose?
Did the 'oak casks' in question have a previous role to play in the nuclear weapons industry?
They also add extra sugar at some stage (the 'ingredients' reveal this in small print) and this was probably what triggered my subsequent Sherbet-themed hallucinations – and there just has to be some other stuff in there which didn't make it onto the label.
I will refrain from guessing, if only for legal reasons.
Seriously, without any trace of irony, I take my hat off to those of you who – hand on heart – actively enjoy this drink experience.
Lord knows the evidence suggests there are many of you out there.
However, I also feel partly inclined to ask all of you a very simple question...
How often do you get to visit your home planet?