A Kriek beer is a special type of Belgian beer which was originally created by fermenting Morello cherries with lambic. Pronounced as “creek,” its name was derived from the Dutch word for cherry. Though sour Morello cherries are the ones usually used in creating them, these type of cherries have become difficult to get lately which pushed breweries to use alternative sour cherry varieties and ingredients instead.
The root of the Belgian Kriek beer lays in the breweries of Brussels where lambic is very popular. Lambic beer is a dry and sour type of Belgian beer created by fermenting normal beer with airborne yeast, which is believed to traditionally exist in Brussels. Traditional Krieks are made by adding sour cherries in a lambic base that is six months young. The addition of the fruit creates a new and additional type of fermentation in the oak barrels which will be left for up to 8 to 12 months. After these, the barrels are opened and the remaining peels and seeds from the cherries are filtered away from the liquid. The remaining sugar in the beer can be re-adjusted in quantity by adding additional fruit juice to create re-fermentation in its bottle.
Belgian Kriek beers are often described as having a fruity, sour, and dry taste. Recently, however, a number of lambic brewers have decided to add more sugar to this type of beer to turn its taste less intense and to make it more likable to a wider audience. There are also others who, instead of using real cherries, use cherry juice instead to make the wine mature faster.
At present, there are three types of Belgian Kriek beers:
1.) Traditional Krieks
2.) Sweetened Krieks
3.) Oud Bruin-based Krieks
One example of a popular traditional Kriek is the Boon label. The Boon brewery’s Kriek wines have a strong fruity taste because it uses the traditional way of adding real cherries to create the wine. Despite its quite intense sweetness, however, Boon’s wines do not taste overly tart and gives a dry and clean finish. It tastes best when consumed after dinner or as an accompanying drink for creamy deserts.
A good example of a popular sweetened Kriek, moreover, is the Belle-Vue brand. This label uses the concept of having an additional fermentation in the wine bottle by adjusting the sugar level or adding cherry juice to the original fermented Kriek. Its taste can be described as creamy yet dry with hints of nuts, cherry, and wood. The end result is a refreshing taste of cherry and almonds. Just like the Kriek wines of Boon brewery, it is also best drunk while eating deserts.
As for Oud Bruin based Kriek, an exceptional product to note is the Liefmans brand. Created by Brouwerij Liefmans, its primary taste is sour instead of sweet and is often described as having a wild ale fruity taste. With its unique taste from other Belgian Kriek types, its flavors taste best when eaten with spicy food. Good examples are Korean and Thai cuisines.