Cantillon Iris | Brasserie Cantillon

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Cantillon IrisCantillon Iris

Brewed by:
Brasserie Cantillon

Style: Lambic - Unblended

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
From the brewery's website: "Although it is a spontaneous fermentation beer, the Iris is very different from the Lambic. The amber colour and the bitter and slightly caramelized taste make it a complex beer."

Added by TheLongBeachBum on 12-05-2002

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Reviews: 494 | Ratings: 2,048
Photo of riored4v
4/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed on 5/5/09

Poured into a Chimay goblet. Slightly pink in color.. hues of red and amber. Clear body. Off-white, thin head that fades fast.

Smell was leathery and mildly musty. Slightly acidic and very crisp.

Taste was leathery, musty and had a tartness that was cherry-like. Good amount of funkiness and interesting, although very subtle, vanilla notes from the oak. Fairly smooth drinking, not overly tart or acidic and leaves a clean palate in the finish.

Mouthfeel was light and crisp. Dry finish.

Drinkability was good. Tart but clean finish.

Overally this was a really tasty brew. The bottle went down way to easily.

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Photo of philipquarles
4.32/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

75cL bottle from 2006. Pours a hazy copper color with a small cap of resilient foam. Tart, musty nose with some citrus character. Flavor is quite acidic with a slightly sweet background. Some mineral character and woodiness. Dry, tongue-curling finish. Medium feel with light carbonation.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
4.3/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Brewed 2005. Bottled 2007.

Compliments of Simon at La Cave à Bulles in Paris.

Pours a clouded amber gold with a surprisingly thin creme head as opposed to none that most of these lambics have. Nose is floral and funky. Flavor is not so abrasive as other lambics. Smooth funky barn tones with a smooth funky character as well. Citric acidity rides in the back. Feel is thicker on liquid. Carbnonation is light and nice. Quite easy to drink. Lou Pepe releases and Lamvinus aside, this is the easiest of the Cantillon releases to drink. A real pleasure. And definitely something lambic rookies might want to try if looking to dive into sours.

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Photo of prototypic
4.05/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Vintage 2006

Light haze clouds its golden color. Orange or amber highlights are strong and have a nice effect on its appearance. A forceful pour yielded a very thin, off-white colored head. It covered the surface, but had no appreciable depth. Retention was very short and little to no lacing lines the glass.

It's a little weaker than I'd like on the nose. Barley and grains are apparent. It also has a musky, old barnyard scent. Sour cherries along with sweet apple, pear, and lemon give it a definite fruity character. Smells a little tart and sour, but not nearly to the extent I expected. I like that aspect quite a bit. It opens up a little as it warms, but not enough to warrant a bump in score.

A sour cherry taste hits first. It's definitely tart, but not to a mouth puckering degree. Citrus lemon, sweet apple, and pear are noted. It's a little sweet, but that aspect is negated by the sour/tart flavor quite a bit. A musky, funky, barnhouse element is easily noted. Probably the Brett effect. It's not nearly as strong as some I've encountered. That's not necessarily a good or bad thing. Suffice it to say that it works well here. It seems to get more tart as it goes down. Iris has a really nice flavor. I'm not quite loving it, but it is very good.

A very smooth, medium body works really well here. Carbonation seems to be dialed down low and really helps to give it a very creamy feel. Of all things here, Cantillon nailed this aspect. Drinkability is good, but falls a few steps shy of excellence. Perhaps it's just my preference, but I frequently feel that way about these types of beers. It's got a nice flavor and goes down pretty easy, but one bottle is more than enough for me.

Iris is a really nice, solid beer. It's well done in all respects and doesn't have any glaring flaws to discuss. I can't say I'm head over heels for it, but that's attributable, in part, to personal preference. I'm just not the biggest sour fan. Coming from a not so sour guy, this is good beer. That's saying something, right?

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Photo of HopHead84
4.4/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy dark orange with a one inch head and great lacing. Nice looking beer.

Brett really dominates this aroma, imparting some really funky notes. Musty horse blanket and barnyard aromas. Lactic sour notes and some tartness. The flavor is also very funky, with the aforementioned horse blanket, alpaca piss, mustiness, and barnyard characteristics. I didn't notice any citrus in the nose, but it's present in the flavor. Lemon, with some vinegar. The beer has a medium level of tartness and a nice level of sourness in the long finish.

Light - Medium bodied with a good level of carbonation.

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Photo of JohnQVegas
3.88/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle, 2005 vintage.

Pours orange with just a bit of haziness, fizzy off-white head that disappears post haste.

Aroma is a bit of sharp sourness, fruity - I got strawberries, just a bit musty. didn't get any hops, which I found surprising.

Taste is sour, sharp but not overwhelming, softened by the musty, earthy quality that comes in after the initial carbonation burst passes. Finish is a bit of citric, lemony sourness and a bit of a grassy, floral note that emerges from the sourness.

Crisply carbonated, light body.

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Photo of ballewblake
3.6/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from bottle into my Duvel tulip.

Cap was rusted and cork and top of bottle were moldy. 2005 Vintage with cork saying bottled in 2007. Two finger head that dropped within a minute. Deep amber color in the body, opaque. Smell is funky, musty attic smell, earthy, sour, floral. Tastes like a battery, really not very appealing at first, gets better with more drinks, but then reverts back, there is something off here. Chemical like tastes, wow, its really off putting. I'm glad I shared this with a friend, I don't know if I could have drank the full 750. Mouth feel is good with carbonation, drinkabilty suffers from the weird off putting metallic/chemical flavors I'm getting. This might be my first unblended lambic.

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Photo of Naugled
2.98/5  rDev -30%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

750ml corked bottle served in chalice
2004 vintage 2006 bottling date

A: cap was rusted from the inside out, cork had leaked and smelled damp. cork made no pop on opening, and pour produced no head almost flat. Has a gold orange color.

S: Musty peppery smalled with hints of greasy fried chicken but in a good way (that's the first I've ever experienced that in a beer)

T: Very sour, tart and tangy. has the classic guezey lambic taste. Dry and astringent and bitter finish that lingers too long.

M: slippery mouthfeel and leaves the mouth with a chalky feeling.

D: I don't think this beer is meant to be drunk, I think its just for collectors and blenders. I blended the remaining portion of the bottle with Muse a sweeter saison and the two together were fantastic.

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Photo of connecticutpoet
3.98/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I was looking forward to trying this one, as it is named after one of my two favorite flowers. A good omen, I figured.

On the pour, I got almost no head atop a clear amber body. About what I expected, although some haze would not have been unwelcome.

Aroma was initially skunky, which was a shock. That quickly turned into a nice lactic sourness, somewhat tart. Worth a solid 4 if not for the first blast.

Taste was not sour, much to my surprise. It was slightly tart, with definite oak tannins coming out.

Mouthfeel was somewhat dry, not too heavy.

Drinkability... this went down real goood. I could have had more, were it not for the price.

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Photo of vacax
4.08/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750 mL bottle from The Wine Country in Signal Hill. Vintage 2006.

A: Rich copper color and vibrant head. Head mostly dissipates, but a lovely coating of delicate bubbles persist nicely. Quite nice.

S: Sour, acidic, lemons, spicy. Subtlely intense.

T: Tartness is upfront, lemony and fruity. Very little funk to this. Sour on a level that few breweries achieve or attempt to achieve, but for Cantillon this is one of the least sour examples I have had the previlege of sampling. The younger sibling of many other Cantillon brews, but very appealing. Ridiculously intense compared to almost any other brewer. Flavors evlolve throughout each sip with a lastng tart finish.

M: Light to medium body with delicate carbonation. Great for savoring in the mouth.

D: Being as intense as this is, it is great for sharing, but I am working on this bottle by myself tonight. Much easier drinking than some of the others in the Cantillon lineup, less acid, smoother. If one craves a few glasses of something quite sour this is a good option. Great for a special occasion or just savoring for the hell of it.

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Photo of kasper
3.87/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2004 Vintage

A: Pours a cloudy, faded amber with straw-colored highlights. Fizzy short-lived off-white yields no lacing.

S: Funky earthy and floral aromas, loads of brett, and maybe some sweet olive brine.

T: Not sure how to describe this one. Flavors are rather course and earthy, like flowers smashed on smooth wet rocks. Overall, fairly sour with hints of something that reminds me of pollen. This odd, bitter flavor lingers somewhat coarsely on the finish.

M: Almost a medium bodied brew. Well carbonated but shy of champagne -- bit tingly and fizzy.

D: Much different than the other Cantillon's I've tried, mainly due to the lack of wheat and fruit. It's also not as sour as some others, but certainly does the trick. Honestly, it's this is the least favorite yet of the Cantillon sours I've tried, but that's not saying much -- it's still an extraordinary and refreshing beer. I couldn't fathom turning another one down short of being offered some other more appealing sours.

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Photo of treehugger02010
4.2/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had this beer from a bottle at TJ's Everyday is Paoli, PA where it came is a tulip glass.
Appearance: The body is a cloudy yellow color. The head is a couple fingers of white fluffiness that has poor retention and leaves the sides dry.
Smell: The aroma is kind of wheaty but makes your nose pucker.
Taste: This is very tart and as it is unblended I couldn't get many other flavors out of it.
Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel is crisp and dry.
Drinkability: This is awesome.
Don't drink and review.

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Photo of abfraser
4.2/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Vintage 2004
Bottled in 2006

A: Beautiful golden orange. Doesn't pour with much of a head. A thin white layer rests on the top.

S: Can smell this over a foot away from me right now. Classic old lambic aromas; musky; tart; orange peel;

T/M: Similar musky, lambic taste. Quite tart. This one isn't for the faint of heart. Vinous like qualities. Mouthfeel is bone dry and a nice carbonation leaves things refreshed.

D: Nice but super tartness makes it tough to drink a ton.

Overall a very nice old lambic. Expensive, as all of these are, but worth it from time to time.

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Photo of tempest
4.25/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2005 Vintage.
Bottled 2007.

Picked up a short green bottle for about $8. This lambic is a bit unusual for it hop character and all-malt grain bill, but it's a nice change of pace. The aroma begins the drink with a mix of musty leather and orange blossom, and the flavor is dominated by a pleasant lemon-lime juice. Tangy sour candy notes dot the edges of the palate, while orange rind and grapefruit hops provide a mild bitterness. This is an excellent lambic and a bit wine-like for white-wine lovers. Highly recommended and worth the money every once and a while.

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Photo of tmoneyba
4.47/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle cap & corked from Dilly Deli.

Poured hazy yellow color with an minimal frothy off-white head that mostly lasted with fair lacing.

Moderate sour yeasty raw wet woody aroma.

Light to medium body with a tingly texture.

Medium sour citrus flavor with a medium bitter finish of moderated duration.

This is a standout beer for style.

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Photo of CrellMoset
3.77/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Cantillon Iris, Vintage 2005, courtesy of proteus93 - thanks! Split three ways w/ proteus and dkachur, w/ my portion poured into a brandy snifter.

Appearance: Pours an incredibly hazy, turgid golden yellow, dirty and gross, with no head of which to speak and only a very thin, fine-bubbled collar of off-white bubbles. Not unreasonable for the style, but I can't say it's pleasant to look at.

Aroma: Fruity and funky as hell, though only slightly sour. Cherry notes and apple skins, tossed around in a barn. The earthy funky horseblanket is intense in this one, and the sourness - though delicate and well-blended - has a slight acidic, vinegary quality. Pretty good, nonetheless.

Taste: Sour funk. 'Nuff said. There are very few notes here other than that. Acidic, only slightly-fruity tartness, all-encompassing, though not really overpowering. That is, it's not as flavorful as I'd like, either up front or any other way. Slightly disappointing.

Mouthfeel: Crisp, due to the sourness, but in a thick blanket. Overall, it's a little less lively than I'd expected or would like, though not bad, as it is incredibly soft and delicate.

Drinkability: If you like the aforementioned sour funk, it's quite possible that you'll enjoy this brew immensely - I just didn't find it too terribly complex, unfortunately. I can appreciate what it was and what it was trying to be however, and that, coupled with the low alcohol, makes me think that it must be pretty drinkable.

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Photo of hopdog
4.25/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Shared bottle provided by Eyedrinkale.

Poured a medium hazy amber color with a white head. Aromas of mustiness, peachy, with sour apples. Tastes of the same funky/mustiness, green apples, and citrus. Tart with a light sweet finish. I enjoyed this one.

Notes from: 12/11/04

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Photo of ricke
4.62/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2006. Bottled in 2008.

Serving date: 2009-01-10.

Served in snifter.

Presentation: 750 ml bottle, corked and capped. Bottling date and freshness date on label (Bottled 2008-05-26, best before 2015-12). Some information about the production process on the back.

Appearance: The pour is golden/copper - almost reddish - and semi-clear. The color of this brew is very appealing. The white, 1 cm head is lively but quickly dissipates leaving a minimal ring of lacings. The head is not as big as anticipated (perhaps due to the chosen glassware).

Smell: The smell is rather complex: Scents of unripe green apples sit side by side with hints of grapefruit, and in the other corner vinegar tags up with a faint funky smell. Amazing smell.

Taste: The taste is even more complex than the smell. Where to start, where to start... First of all, this is a very sour beer. Sourness and tartness thus being its main characteristics. Tastes of especially lemon, but lime, are up-front and linger on throughout the experience. A fruity character of unripe green apples and grapefruits is also prominent. Vinegar also reappears in the taste, but is not as dominant as in the smell. A faint hint of yeast is also detectable. Subtle hints of a funky barnyard taste adds an interesting tension to the taste of the concoction. The very long finish is primarily sour and a bit dry.

Mouthfeel: The body is medium. Carbonation is good. The sourness sends a tickling feeling to the cheeks, which is a pleasant sensation.

Drinkability: I really like lambics and in my opinion this is a really good beer. The distinct sourness actually doesn't become overwhelming, even though the bottle is 750 ml. A highly recommended brew.

NOTE: I'm going to cellar a bottle of this for a year or two, and see how it turns out cellared.

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Photo of hwwty4
3.9/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Vintage 2004.

Poured sparingly into my Koningshoeven goblet. This beer pours a hazy, muddled, orange with a thin inch head that left no lacing and no retention. The aroma is extremely tart, citric with orange and lemon zest. White wine vinegar, and bit of apple, and a whole lot of funkiness. The flavor is very citric and funky. I don't know if you can make vinegar out of lemon juice, but if you can I would imagine it would have some similarities to this. Also there are a whole lot of earthy undertones. The mouthfeel is very dry, leaving a very tart flavor on the palate. I really enjoy this beer but I find it very hard to drink a 750ml by myself. This is definitely a beer to share among several people.

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Photo of deliriumfest
3.83/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Consumed on 1/9/09

2006 Vintage, bottled in 2008; 750 ml bottle

Served well chilled and poured into a champagne flute. Pours a nice copper color with a foamy white head. Has a very sour/funky aroma with a bit of citrus and very little fruit. The taste replicates the smell but also includes a barnyard taste and no real fruit or sweetness. Very little carbonation and a light body concludes with a dry finish. Easily drinkable though incredible tartness could be perceived as a turn off. Wish I would have bought a smaller bottle but would definitely try again.

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Photo of Proteus93
4.25/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2005 vintage, picked up in New York and held onto for a special night. Split with dkachur and CrellMoset. Cap had a fair bit of rust under the wrappe, which I don't believe to have been caused by

A: A deep orangish-amber... rich and deep. Can't see through it, but it's not due to fog or haziness. A big, foamy white head. Retention is decent, not much for lacing.

S: A tartness, but not the standard fruitiness that is often found in sours. The funk is definitely there, and a fair bit of barnyard aroma. There are some citrus hints in there. Quite delicate and nice.

T: Grapefruit, but not sweetened at all. Quite a big horsey flavour going on. Some hints of sour apple and the like, but just not very fruity. Quite an intriguingly tart beer, without the sweet edge I'm used to.

M + D: A mellow carbonation, no real bite or sting at all. A bit of a tingly foaminess, giving way to a moderate body that finishes remarkably dry. Quite an interesting brew... I'm quite glad to have tried it and would be more than happy to go about having it again were it to cross my path.

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Photo of eyncognito
4.02/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had this on tap at the Malthouse in Madison.

Yellow pour, gold-orange tint, with white head that disappeared quickly-yeah this is some acidic stuff. The aroma is pure sour funk, unripe fruit-lemon, apple, pear, vinegar. I now really understand barnyard funk, the faint fresh cut grass scent is inviting.

Taste follows, viscous acid taste-vinegar, tart lemon and grass. Dry and mouth puckering, slight unripe cherry taste. Nice and dry with strong carbonation, lively.

I am not a huge fan of lambics, but I do have some experience with them. This is one of the best unblended I've had. Quite refreshing and complex, but like nearly all lambics it's one and done.

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Photo of Overlord
4.25/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I'm going to note for the record, this is a tough beer to review. It's like drinking liquid sadness, and applying a blow torch to your tongue. In a good way.

Pours a golden yellow. Surprisingly long lasting white foam head. Smells like ... unripe apples/pears, and a bunch of vinegar/lemon/citrus. Damn, it even smells sour.

The taste is amazingly sour. Just insane vinegar, lemon, barnyard funk, and a bunch of unripe fruit flavors. I love sours, and this hit the spot, although there is a strange current running through it I didn't like ... very hard to identify, and it was very subtle, but almost a rotten (in a bad way) fruit tone.

Mouthfeel was lively.

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Photo of BeerTruth
3.95/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

750 ml corked bottle poured into a tulip.

Vintage 2005, bottled in 2007.

Pours a semi-clear sunset orange with a big 'ol two finger fluffy white head that quickly dies down to a thin layer of fluff. Virtually nothing in terms of stickiness, if anything, a possible spot here or there. Good god this is a sour beast. Grass, lemon, and vinegar explode in the nose with some sour apple underneath. A very powerful aroma overall, but in a good way. Taste begins, well, pretty tart. Lip smaking grapefruit and white grapes with some crisp hay underneath. Vinegar and lemongrass midway with a hint of unripe cherries. Aftertaste is pretty earthy and dry with leather and dust flavors on the tongue. Light and dry body with a big puckering mouthfeel. Pretty strong carbonation but it fits very well with the style. The abv is pretty low, but the crazy tartness is a bit much for my tastebuds. Not bad, but the price tag is a bit of a turnoff.

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Photo of magictrokini
3.78/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

2005 vintage. This is the first unblended lambic I've tried. Pours hazy orange-gold with a bubbly white head that quickly disappears. Musty aroma of yeast, lemon, apple, spice, and old wood. Taste is fruity, citrus sweet up front, but instantly turns into a dank acidic sourness with an apple wine/vinegar bite. As it warmed the sourness lightened up just a bit. Dry, sweet finish akin to a Flemish.

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Cantillon Iris from Brasserie Cantillon
4.26 out of 5 based on 2,048 ratings.
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