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Dirty Horse | De Struise Brouwers

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Dirty HorseDirty Horse

Brewed by:
De Struise Brouwers

Style: Lambic - Unblended

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Starting with a Lambic grist bill composed of 70% barley malt and 30% unmalted wheat. No yeast was artificially added to the wort, but was exposed for two days to the open air in one of our plastic tunnels at the Noordhoek Ostrich Farm. First fermentation took place in second hand sherry oak casks for six weeks. 200 grams of Northern cherries per litre and the Roeseleire yeast strain were added after six months, provoking a new fermentation process. Eight months later, we pumped over the young ale to oak casks and let it mature for another 3 years. This project was realized after a tasting of the same recipe Urbain once made 20 years ago and was barrel aging in his garage in De Panne ever since and while he was in Africa and forgot all about it. As this is a very limited version, this ale will not be suitable for export but rather for sale at the farm when available.

Added by ggaughan on 09-19-2008

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 68 | Ratings: 99
Photo of spdyfire83
4.97/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

226th Review
On-tap at the Copenhagen Beer Celebration 2012 (highlight of the event and worth the trip to Denmark alone)
Poured in a CBC taster
Enjoyed on 11/12 May 2012

Vintage: 1983 100% unblended

A: Deep cherry red (almost maroon, but not quite). Single (off-white) fingernail head fades slowly.

S: Smells of soft sour cherry, oak, and faded mixed berries. Touch of funk and must, but not terribly pronounced. Hint of lemon, spice, and vanilla fade to aged, worn leather. Definitely old, but soft earthiness makes this quite appealing. The complexity of the nose is very inviting!

T: Wow - this beer is quite deep, rounded, and complex considering its age! Loads of soft cherry tartness up-front followed by touch of lemon zest, vanilla, oak, and plum. Mixed berries follow along with soft yeast and mild spice. Sourness and funk is smooth and slightly faded, but very enjoyable nonetheless. The complexity, yet simplicity, is what makes this beer amazing and so tasty!

M: Medium body with almost no carbonation. Soft, crisp, and dry. Very smooth and easy to drink!

O: What can I say...this beer lived up to the hype for me and I thought it was absolutely stellar. I was happy to enjoy multiple pours of this each day at CBC and think the character, fullness, and depth is brilliant. I'd be curious to see how this holds up in the bottle. Superb beer that is worthy of the hype! Urbain doesn't disappoint and neither does this beer. Standing ovation!

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Photo of Travlr
4.95/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bottle courtesy of Urbain at the schoolhouse brewery in Oost-Vleteren. Urbain brewed it in 1983 and bottled it in 1988. "It's our calling card."
A: Deep copper color with a few large bubbles. Bottle had significant diesel marks.
S: Aroma of dark sour cherries with notes of vanilla, a hint of anise, and musty earth.
T: Incredible deep sourness, dark fruits, bits of dust and must. Amazingly complex and totally unique.
M: Body is slightly lighter than expected, but still rich.
D: What can I say? Urbain said it best: "Life sucks...but not here!!"

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Photo of digita7693
5/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I was very excited for the chance to try this at Pré ZBF, and had very very high expectations. And this did by no means disappoint, really it was perfect!

a nice copperish- red color, cloudy, nice white head

s earth tones, sour cherries, wood

t pretty much exactly what was in the smell, sour cherries, wood

d could easily drink this over and over. Had it not been for the ridiculously good selection of other beers at the fest I might have just had this all night.

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Photo of camil1mj
4.5/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

1983 unblended from a vial filled from a growler from Ebenezer's. Shared by Romulux. Never thought a single drop of this beer would pass over my tongue, but the little bit that did was amazing and left me wanting more.

A - Dirty reddish-orange with no head. This may be due to the small amount we had access to.

S - Vinegar and cherries.

T - The cherries are still there and taste great with a wonderful lemony/acidic finish. Not as much funk as described by others.

M - Nice dry mouthfeel.

O - The little bit I had lives up to the hype. Left me wanting more. So great. Big thanks to Romulux for sharing this rare treat.

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Photo of tarheels86
4.26/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

1983 Unblended on Tap pouring at Copenhagen Beer Celebration like boss. Beautiful hazy purple pour with pink foam. Impressive webby lacing. Nose is sharper raspberry. Taste is seedy raspberry, grapefruit peel, big lactic acid, citric acid, zippy all the way. Quenching palate. No acetic. No sweet cherry. Could even be framboise. Excellent. Rich cherries come in and out and provide some amazing complexity- sweet and sour playoff. Amazing. Couldn’t believe this was on tap for hundreds of people. Manna from the gods! 5/12/2012 8/5/8/5/16=4.2

750mL Auction bottle 20/250 courtesy of Urbain. This was of course the beer I looked forward to the most during our sour epic. But this was very disappointing. It pours a beautiful dark pink with a small, white/light pink head. Aroma is stellar: it is probably the best kriek/sour nose I have ever encountered: it is full of cherry pie, wet oak, soft leather, tannic acid, horsey Brett. Very soft nose and refined. Taste is a little bit sweet, slightly medicinal, full of sweet cherries, sour raspberries, and light vinegar/acetic acid. But overall is light-bodied, a bit thin, and not too acidic/tart. 6/8/2010 10/4/7/3/14=3.8

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Photo of PapaEugene
4.65/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

One of the many brews that I had on the AMAZING & GREAT Borefts Bier Festival 2009 organised by De Molen brewery. Served by the Struise Brouwers.

A: Hazy ruby-red color with a white head.

S: Sour cherries, almonds and a bit woody.

T: Good, no chemical shit ruining this beer. High similarities with the Cantillon kriek but without the funk that normally disturbs me. Some grains, well balanced cherries, almond and something woody.

M: Medium carbonation and a light body.

D: Just great. After returning to this style after 10 odd years, this is surely the best for me until now. Just too bad that it was just on tap at the festival. Would have loved to buy some of these.

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Photo of BucketBoy
4.42/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Review from notes. Bottle 94 of 100, vintage 1983 unblended generously shared by Trey and Dan 3-26-11. Thank you gentlemen!

L - Brilliant clear copper that looks to suck in light and then let it back out. As I gaze into my swirling glass, strokes of alcohol glide around, hoping to give way to aroma and flavor.

S - Apple and apple cider vinegar immediately jump out of the glass, followed by sweet yet faint maraschino cherries. Deep clover honey happily joins the party, with seemingly long strands of dark raw sugar that pulls the entire package into one. The subtlety of funk and acetic acid interact with a simple, light wooden cask to bring the aroma together.

T - Delicate apple skin and cider meets with a sherry and light oak up front. Dark clover honey and light molasses make the flavors pop. Perfect bland of acetic acid, the restraint really is majestic and the gentle funk, touch of mineral, and green vegetal flavors finish the structure perfectly.

M - Essentially imperceptible carbonation makes the smooth liquid just break over the tongue. Glides like a blanket of satin into my throat.

O - Truly a thing of beauty for something this old! I am thrilled and thankful to have drunk this masterful homebrew (twice).

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Photo of tendermorsel
4.8/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

5 oz pour 100% 1983

Dark cherry color. Minimal head. Cherry was pretty muted in the nose. Musty barnyard aromas mixed with the slightest cherry aroma.

Great tasting beer. Considering the age of this beer the cherries were shockingly in the forefront. I could taste the slight almond flavors what I would assume is from the pits of the cherries. Wonderful taste and insanely complex.

Struise are the kings of mouthfeel and this is no exception. I could pound this beer!

I have been hunting this White Whale for 4 years now. It did not let me down. Awesome. I cannot believe this nearly 30 years old. So fresh and vibrant even after all that time.

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Photo of Cmack15
4.67/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I was very fortunate enough to have this on tap at the Alvinne fest this year. The beer has a soft pink/rose color and just looks beautiful in the glass. Slight sour/funk in the nose but not in your face. The taste was a well balanced gueze/sour in my opinion. The funk and sourness was there in the taste especially upfront but then it all blended together and ended so nicely. The age has really helped this beer mellow out and become a true gem. This by far is one of my all time fave beers.

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Photo of drowland
4.78/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Yeah... got a sample of this at RBWG 2010 because of fata... and I couldn’t believe it - what a great guy! Wow. Nice red pour with a small pinkish head. Awesome cherry and sour going on in this stuff. Just enough malt in there to balance it out. Really good, but you knew that.

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Photo of mistakebythelake
4.77/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

1983 Unblended version.

Finally able to ride this Dirty Horse. Pours a hazy reddish/brownish color into the Cantillon sherry tasting glass. Little to no head on the pour. A nice cherry, musty, and leathery aroma wafted from my glass that I greatly enjoyed. The taste combined some sour cherries, with a slight lactic souring. Red jammy and dark fruit also present in the taste. Mouthfeel was medium to thin, very smooth and I was surprised at how the carbonation held up. Very drinkable and I was glad I tried this gem. Would like to see how the blended bottle versions are tasting right now for some comparison.

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Photo of HopHobo
4.48/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

From mental notes at White Whale tasting #1. Contributed by MasterSki and poured into a 6 oz. snifter.

A - pours a deep plum color with two fingers of off white head. Very clear and settled looking.

S - The smell is that of funk, horse blanket, cherries and vinegar. I don't get a ton of sour smell from this beer, its more funky than anything.

T - the taste is not what I expected from an unblended lambic. Not a ton of up front sourness, but a good amount of funk, vineousness, and cherry juice.

M- the mouthfeel is medium not to heavy, but not as thin as I would expect from a beer of this age....I actually think the mouth really contributes to this beer.

D - this is the best part of this ale, its highly drinkable....seems like something that could be drank all night without becoming overpowering in any regards. All and all a good beer, maybe not as good at the hype, but still pretty happy to have gotten the opportunity.

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Photo of fewa
4.78/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

From my notes: had this highly sought after beer at the Alvinne festival. The beer pours a hazy ruby color, with white head. Smell: Fruit all over the place, sour cherries, and woody smell. Taste: ver well balanced. Starts with some sweetness, followed by a well balanced sourness. Fresh cherries are all over the place again. The woody hints observed in the smell are also clearly present in the taste.Overal, perfect

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Photo of Bardwashrind
4.92/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Reviewed from notes taken after Popkas's initial Summer sour tasting (10/2010).

Thanks so very much to the genius of Popkas and his unreal dedication. I almost didn't believe that this was real when seeing the fuzzy horse on the bottle from across the room.

Bottle 012/250 from the 90% '83- 10% '05 blend.

A monolith of a bottle. Even among the other incredible beers had, this was the one where silence filled the room and only gasps were to be found. The top was covered in an almost bomb proof thick layer of a black plaster/concrete. Fragments fell to the ground and the luscious liquid was released from the imprisoning vessel.

Firm layer of crisp bubbles atop the dark ruby color didn't give was to the actual age of the beer. The initial aroma came Immediate as it was being poured. Cherries, leaves, dried tea, cranberries, spices, wood and some leather unraveled themselves before us. There wasn't as much dusty/damp aromas as I thought, more vibrant with tartness coming across and quite a bit of earthiness. This smelled unlike any other beer. So many high notes and yet there was the leather depth that just made it a pleasure to contemplate.

Finally tasting Dirty Horse nearly made my eyes only see black and white. Such a focus of sourness but such a fundamental balance to the oak driven center of the beer. Unreal. It had aged notes, but not of oxidation. There was a great deal of tart cherry and funky hay, but it still had refinement. SIp after sip and the beer kept persisting with a range of truly lovely complexities. Just when the flavor seemed as if it was to be comprehended, things changed and more subtleties came to light.

Some Lambic comparisons were made but that was almost too easy. This didn't have the Rodenbach chewiness nor the distinct lemon juice flavors of a Lambic. This was unique and utterly baffling with it's rounded intensity. Truly delicious and an experience of a beer that will most likely rarely be equaled.

I feel fortunate to have gotten a chance to share a taste of this liquid. Seeming like this couldn't have been made by the hands of a mere mortal, but then again, Struise is not a typical brewery. Believe what has been spoken, it's that good and worth a cellar in obtaining a bottle.

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Photo of Samichlaus82
4.5/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Cherry pie like aroma; cherry, vanilla, caramel, slight funk, apple and grape. Lots going on in the nose. The flavor is mirrored by the aroma; sweet cherry and fruit notes with some overarching funk to it. Not as funky or sour as I would have expected. Balanced. Overall, am I impressed by this? Yes and no. Yes in terms of how this has held up and the overall experience of getting to drink this. No in the fact that if this was a "new" beer I would have been a little let down. Some carbonation would have been nice. Medium mouthfeel. I find myself saying that I could drink this all day.

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Photo of SpencerDB
3.87/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Big thanks to tarheels86 for sharing this one at the DC epic tasting. Auction bottle 00X(was a single digit but forgot which bottle)/250. This was a blend of the 83 and newer Dirty Horse and not the unblended 83.

Poured a ruby red color with a light frothy pink head. Nose is beautiful with heavy cherries that is very pleasant. Definitely has the fresh cherry pie on the windowsill effect going on.

Sadly, the taste doesn’t follow through. Should be a kriek, but the mouthfeel is so lacking. Hardly anything to note for the palate as it’s so thin. Taste is just light cherry, cough drops, hardly sour.

It was pleasant to drink, but nothing close to the level of the other great brews we sampled that day.

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Photo of Beerinabelle
4.97/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Thank you Urbain! XO

Beautiful red/orange colour with a nice amount of head for a sour beer.

There is a very strong smell of aromatic acidic fruit and funk.

mmmm....a hint of sweetness added to dark sour fruit (cherry, plum, strawberry). The hint of funk adds to the overall balance of this amazingly complex brew.

Just enough effervescence. It is smooth and full with layers of flavour as it passes over the tongue.

I could drink a whole bottle of this by myself! Sorry I didn't write more, but I am enjoying it way too much.

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Photo of JamesOtey
5/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottle 001/250. 100% unblended 1983, hand signed- thanks Urbain!!! Drank with my Dad, Carl, Jamie, and Chris. After about 5 minutes at chipping away at the bombproof wax job, I am finally able to see a cap. Upon prying it off, I am met with some mild gushing. After a proper lambic pour by Chris, I am met with a gorgeous brownish tinted garnet body and a robust off white head. The aroma is like nothing I’ve ever experienced. A huge old must character gives way to sour cherries, geuze cellar, leather, and the most profound funk profile I’ve ever encountered. The flavor holds tons more old must with a beautifully balanced cherry acidity that gives way to a mouth puckering finish. The mouthfeel is ultra dry and ultra crisp. My mouth felt just as dry even 10 minutes after finishing my last sip. Easily the best example of sour beer I’ve ever encountered. I don’t know how beer could get any better.

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Dirty Horse from De Struise Brouwers
4.55 out of 5 based on 99 ratings.
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