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: 492 | Ratings: 2,034
Photo of pat61
5/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours an energetic ruby tinged amber with incredible, very fine carbonation. The head rises to about one to one and a half fingers and then quickly recedes. It is very unusual to find such fine, champagne-like carbonation with the light beer body to hold the bubbles together and produce such a fine mouthfeel. The aromas include some fruit and citrus – maybe grapefruit punctuated by a little barnyard. There are so many tastes, they are so well blended and balanced and they create such a flow of flavor in your mouth that it is hard to identify them all. There is a little fruit, malt, and a couple of different hop aspects. You can taste both the old lambic hops (dull, stale with a lot of tannins) with the fresher hop character (spicy and bitterer). The beer also has a wine-like quality to it as well as the kind of oak you would get with an oaky chardonnay. The tartness balances well with the different varieties of the hop. The tannins from the old hops and the bitterness and spiciness from the newer hops, the lemony/grapefruity tartness, and the barnyard funkiness all blend together in a very amazing way.

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Photo of Jow
5/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Great taste this on!

The flower aroma mixes perfectly with the lambic and everything balanced to well.
For me I don't notice any oak and this is something I like!

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Photo of chrysanthemumbler
5/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

i don't know if any of the people who say "barnyard" in a beer tasting have ever been in a barnyard. If they had ever mashed and bruised and rolled the hollow stem of an iris between their fingers until the cells between the strands turned into the watery, tugging, viscous, liquid that runs down your legs after the second time on a tart day in your cycle then I don't know why they wouldn't just say that this tastes like that.

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Photo of sanhedrin
5/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2005 Vintage. Amazing. It smells like a pig farm, and it tastes like old yeast, dirty socks and underripe grapes. Yet as unappetizing as that sounds, it's one of my favorite Lambics of all time. Probably too sour & funky for some tastes, I find it has just enough hoppiness to balance it out and crisp it up. This baby works on every level.

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Photo of SpasmWaiter
5/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I am pretty sure this is my favorite beer on the planet. I just simply cannot bring myself to give anything a perfect score because what is perfect? Call me jaded, call me what you will, but there is always room for improvement, no matter how subtle.

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Photo of JohnCassillo
4.99/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

An incredible lambic. Absolutely on-the-nose with its sour flavor and aroma notes; a bright mix of citrus and fresh-cut grass that possesses just the right amount of bite. Feel is appropriately tart on the finish. Just a wonderful beer that does everything right for the style and then some.

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Photo of slayer3604
4.97/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A- golden amber, with nice sticky foam thats forms a 2 finger head, and settles to a ring of white foam on the sides of teh glass with small traces of lacing.

S- I can tell this beast is going to be sour, it has lemon, brown sugar, little bit of funk and its RICH. i can smell this thing even when its not by my face.

T- Extremely sour, sending tinges of acidity to the back of my jaw, lots of lemon peel, buttery on my teeth and tounge, with a rich ripe semi dry finish. Lots of cloying sour notes. awesome. awesome.

M- Very well balanced body, with a lot to discover every time you take a sip. The acidity and prolonged finish make this an epic beer.

D- At 19 bucks a bottle, its kind of steep, but i cant think of any other beer i'd rather have with key lime pie. hands down best cantillon ive tried.

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Photo of Antilochus
4.92/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Quaffed on...


Vintage 2005 - bottled 22/03/2007 (2 year old lambic). Unbranded (!) glass at Delirium Cafe, Brussel. Slightly hazy amber, 2cm white head. Perfectly even head and body, goes to collar. Sour apple, citric acid aromas. Musty, chalky. Incredibly smooth palate! Perfectly well balanced! Noted acidity, fruitiness, hop bitterness. This is awesome. Wirey sour grape notes, mildly fungal, haven't even swallowed yet. Not too carbonated, well attuned. Finish is the sourest thing I've ever tasted. Mild juniper, amazingly long finish on citrus, juniper again. Malt presence is minimal, only contributing to slight sweetness. Amazing that the hops can stick through this sourbomb. Slight yeasty sourdoughness comes through.

Fiendishly complex, superb. I'll remember this one forever - massive beyond its abv, and I appreciate that. An incredible beer, I'd love to try some 1990s vintages.

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Photo of kmpitz2
4.89/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Shared this bottle with orbitalr0x in Chicago at the Map Room. We had to "settle" for this one since they were out of the Vigneronne. Bastards. This beer poured a hazy amber color with a healthy 3 finger head that fell to coat the beer generously. Upon smelling it, I was taken back, even thought I had this beer once before. Sour and fruity notes hit me first, followed with tart and acidic barnyard funkyness kicking me in the face directly afterwards. Wow. The flavor is something that has to be experienced to understand. Immediate sourness and acidic flavors assaulted my tongue. This was as close to making me pucker as a beer can without making me actually do it. Damn, this beer is fine. The feel was moderate with a slight carbonation to keep it lively on the tongue. The flavors and aroma on this one is so far beyond the norm, that it can be nothing but greatness. I had to hide from one of my wife's friends, as she kept stealing drinks from my glass. I had to tell her where she could find a bottle for herself at home.

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Photo of boilermakerbrew
4.88/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Simply beautiful. Had a 2010 Iris on tap tonight at Hair of the Dog on Washington Ave. in St. Louis. Pours a yellowish, golden hue, with a terrific head that retains and laces the best I've seen. Smell is of sour notes intermingled with slight hints of lemon and citrus as well as the tiniest bit of hops.

Taste is superbly balanced. Sour up front with lots of lactics. As it progresses towards the back of your mouth and warms a little the citrus and lemon flavors ring through. Slight hops bite towards the end, but not bitter by any means. Great balance throughout, with a creamy smoothness going down, yet still light and refreshing for a sour.

Definitely among the best beers I've ever had, as evidenced by the straight 5's. I think this being aged a couple years and on tap puts it over the top. If you get the chance, try it; you won't be disappointed.

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Photo of brownbeer
4.85/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A- Rusty with a suprisingly big dirty white head.

S- A bouquet of fresh flowers, horse blanket, iron, and funk.

T- Floral flavors blend with an acidic backing. Truely wonderful.

M- Incredible texture. Perfectly carbonated with a pickle juice like acidity.

D- I'm sad that I don't have any more. I can't wait to see this again, a must own.

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Photo of CAMRAhardliner
4.85/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I picked up a bottle of this for 17.99 at Premier Gourmet in Buffalo. Using 50% fresh hops and no wheat in a lambic sounds really interesting, and this must be a first.

It pours a dark straw color with a wispy long lasting head that leaves a good smattering of lace on the glass. The aroma is magnificently funky and barnyardy, but without the yeast edge of other Cantillons. Hops arent really perceptable to me in the nose, the funk and acidity subsume them.

The taste is lambic perfection with an amazing twist. A huge amount of brett funk (you know, musty horse blanket, wet horse hair, a dung heap in a verdant meadow, sweaty gym socks, rotting straw, strong cheese, uric acid, all the good stuff!) and sharp sourness takeover the palate. The middle reveals a herbal, leafy hop aroma that sort of reminds me of a well hopped German Pilsner. The finish is mostly sour with some bitterness on the edges, and it lasts forever. I can definitely sense the absence of the wheat 'tartness'. The mouthfeel is full and lightly carbonated.

This is one kick ass experimental lambic, one of the tastiest Cantillons Ive had the fortune of tasting. The fresh hops and sourness work better then I was expecting.

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Photo of Cresant
4.82/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured this green bottled split into a Tripel Karmeliet glass. 2005 vintage, cork stamped bottled 2007. The body was bright copper colored and clear of sediment. The modest head faded to nothing.

Smell was of damp basements and spices. Earthy. Pixie Stix candy.

Taste was woody and lightly crisp. Tart with just enough sweetness. Stone fruits, maybe nectarines. Granny Smith apple peel. Well constructed and highly drinkable.

Mouthfeel was medium to low in carbonation with a fine texture. Silky. I wish my bottle was larger.

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Photo of orbitalr0x
4.8/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I shared this bottle last night with kmpitz2 at The Map Room. The Iris evacuated the bottle with a deep golden color and a big, bubbly three finger head. Tempting aromas of vinegar acidity, barnyard funkiness, hints of citrus/floral and a bit of dirty sweat socks thrown in for good measure. Wonderfully unique and tempting.

Beautiful sour acidic puckering opening with slight floral notes and hints of lemon. Super funky, each sip brings something new. Dirty hay and barnyard stable weaves in and out and keeps me guessing....possibly some green olives that have gone bad? An extremely challenging and rewarding lambic...simply wonderful.

Smooth, crisp mouthfeel with small bubbly carbonation. This is so easy to drink and each sip just leaves me wanting more and more. Gueuze and lambic are becoming some of my favorite styles and Cantillon has blown me away so far...I highly recommend Iris and I look forward to trying more of their beers.

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Photo of cokes
4.8/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours to a lightly foggy amber cherry juice, stacked with a snowy, alpine peak.
Perfumed of brushed suede, cedar, spanish moss, lime leaves, and rose petals. Oh, and oak-rested urine too.
A brief bicuit maltiness splashes across the mouth, ceded immediately by a cutting lime juice sourness. This is as tart as any of Cantillon's "real" lambics, as it serves as a canvas for all that is about to unfold. Peach skins and pear, and pinot gris, cherry stones, bile, and rusted tin. Lilacs and bleu cheese. Turns woodier on the close, with moss-filmed fallen maple, dry cedar, and screeching oak.
Bountifully carbonated, but far from spritzy. This is a down pillow. Soft, supple, and form fitting in the mouth. Despite its moments of aggression and sharpness, this is a comfortable sip..err..gulp.
Another jewel in the Cantillon crown. Perhaps my favorite thus far.

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Photo of bark
4.8/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Vintage 2005, bottled 2007.

The smell is sour with some malty sweetness, beach and seaweed, some stable. Smooth and matured flavours. Some honey and flowers, kiwi and green bananas.

The liquid is all clear; the colour is orange with a tint of red (20 EBC). Low white head, some lacing.

The taste is elegant sweet-dry with a moderate sourness. Elegant notes of fresh/wet hops, some honey and minerals. The aftertaste is mellow and rich in minerals with notes of honeydew melon, rosewater and flowers. The finish got a pleasant sourness.

The carbonation is mild, yet the small bubbles are fresh, almost sharp. The liquid is a little sticky.

One of the most elegant lambics I ever had: Great stuff!

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Photo of RenoZymurgist
4.8/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured beautiful light copper color with a nice white head. Surpringly carbonated I believe the extended aging allowed this enough time to become carbonated.
Aroma is lots of dry brett and a nice dry malt almost like white bread. Very clean and not as bretty as 100% brett beers tend to be.
The flavor begins with a nice sharp carbonic bite and it then moves onto a sharp acidic bite from the acid. Very dry and the brett is the dominant flavor yet everything is remarkably balanced. In some cases lambics can get out of hand yet Iris is very drinkable. I wish more lambics tasted like this, yet I am glad that such a rare beer exists and that I got to have some. Due to the nature of seasonal production and the changes that occur this beer might never be replecated exactly. This is the best lambic that i have ever had.

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Photo of Beersignal
4.8/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Rarely do you get to experience such craftsmanship in this writer's backyard as I did tonight with the Cantillon Iris. Accompanied by fellow BA, Goldorak, and another beer head I discovered what it means to master an artform.

The beer poured a stunning and bright amber peach colour with generous but very ephemeral foam. Very true to the Cantillon name.

The nose was generously greeted with young fruits (green and crab apples grapefruits and mandarine oranges, to name a few) strong hints of peppery mint tea and fresh cigar tobacco leaves near the back. The apples resurfaced often throughout the experience.

Tastes were magnificent and presented through a sparse bead. Very dry but firm, this beer boasted fruits and vanilla, oak and solidly set touches of hops all through a powerful and omnipresent acidity. The final was all about dryness derived from hops and the acidic character of this near perfect beer.

This brew displays incomparable aromatic complexity, along with intense flavours of orchard and citrus fruits buttressed by notes of wood and spices. A quenching and long finish round out the experience and render this drinker finally speechless.


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Photo of lordofthewiens
4.79/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A 750ml bottle poured into a tulip glass. Vintage 2004 on the label, bottled 2006 on the cork. Hazy golden red color with a tiny head and little carbonation. A tart fruity aroma, very earthy. Citrus fruit taste, very sour, yeast, crisp, clean finish. Loved this beer. Could drink it all night if my salivary glands were up to it.

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Photo of BBeerL
4.79/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Whenever I want to treat myself I usually by this beer. The bright green citrusy hoppy taste mixed with the old hop traditional musk of a lambic is like nothing I have ever tasted before. The time in aok really does wonders for this beer. I felt it takes the harsh edges off the beer and really bring all the flavors together. Great beer!!!

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Photo of bcp5296d
4.79/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

The only thing I can say about this beer that is not absolutely perfect is the fact that there are one or two cantillons that are even better than this one. Its a fantastic sour and its pretty tart but not too bad. The balance is on par with most of Cantillons stuff so you really can't go wrong. Thinking about ordering this from belgiuminabox

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Photo of wnh
4.78/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12.7 oz. bottle poured into a tulip. 2007 vintage, bottled in 2009.

A hearty and exuberant "pop" upon popping the cork on this beer. Pours a rich, bright, clear golden amber with a large, lasting, foamy white head. Lively, with groups of bubbles constantly rising to the surface. A pleasure to behold.

Mouthwatering aromas of horse blanket, lemon peel, cracked pepper, and red fruit. Dense, but relatively subtle. The kind of beer I could sit and smell for an hour before taking a sip. But...

Mouthpuckeringly sour and biting on the palate. Complex and contemplative. Barnyard flavor is heavier than on the nose, with a bitter pithy lemon peel note that lasts through the finish. Still fruity and sweet, though I can't specify what sort of red(ish) fruit I'm tasting. Bitter lemon peel flavor lingers, but the overall finish is quick and short, leaving just enough behind to beg me to take another sip. Iron-like flavor comes through as the beer warms, adding to the complexity.

Quite heavy bodied, with a moderate amount of carbonation that surely makes the body feel heavier than it is. Seems to be drying up front, while it somehow becomes "wet" on the finish, such that the overall effect is not a drying one. Perhaps this is just the result of a literally mouthwatering beer, so that the dryness of the beer is nullified by its effect on me. Whatever it is, it's wonderful.

I'm still relatively new to sour beers, but this leapfrogged its way right to the top spot. Fantastic.

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Photo of Realale
4.77/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Slightly hazy deep orangish gold. Huge raspy off-white head settles to a persistent 1/4" cap that jumps up each time the glass is swirled.

Incredible nose. Nose as sour as most Cantillon, and definitely richer. Slightest hint of barnyard over the rich, but controlled maltiness. Tons of warm spicy yeastiness to it - touch of cardomum and clove. Really unique - even for Cantillon.

Not as acidic as expected on the palate, but its the acidity that and spices that dominate. The malt is an important supporting player, but its definitely not the lead. Long by normal beer standards, but not for a Cantillon. Excellent earthiness comes out with food. Really quite excellent.

Typically beautiful soft bottle-conditioned Cantillon mouthfeel. Incredibly drinkable and an outstanding beer with food.

When I told MJR that I had not had this Cantillon, but it was in the tasting queue, he said that he thought it the most easily accessible of the main Cantillon bottlings for those lacking experience with them, and I have to whole-heartedly agree. If you want to taste Cantillon start here. Its definitely less challenging than some of the other offerings as to acidity and funk, but its on par in quality and a hell of a beer by any standard. Simply another awesome beer from Cantillon. 2001 bottling.

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Photo of marburg
4.77/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

The nametag on your newly found friend reads, "'Hello! My name is Iris.'"

Never before have you met someone like this. Some people are too challenging to be any fun. Some people are too simple-minded to be worth your time. And then there are the folks who are just right. And Iris is just right.

Your pal is a unique sort, with a hazy brown-maize skin that lets you know right away that he's not from your side of town -- a breeze of fresh air, really. And most of your friends aren't the sort of people who you accept when they don't shower, when they reek of rotting apples and damp earth.

But how many of your friends are this lively -- ebullient and full of original personality? Quick to see his temper flare, he offers only a fleeting sweetness to those around him that yields so often -- yet not too often -- to his vitriolic, mordant, sour dark side. Unquestionably, Iris fills everywhere with this "presence" that leaves a bitter taste in your mouth that's solid with an unusual satisfaction, something you wouldn't expect.

This new friend has personality enough to last a lifetime, but fortunately, you can endure it in somewhat smaller doses, which is good because, for some reason, you'll find yourself always begging for more.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
4.77/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bottled 2002, Sampled February 2004
This beer pours a hazy amber-copper color, which is in stark contrast to the typical light gold color of a traditional Gueuze. It is reasonably well carbonated. The carbonation creates an off white head that is persistent but only 1/4 inch in my tulip glass. Wow, the aroma has as the strongest element definite notes of cat-piss, surely the most I have ever experienced in a Lambic beer. Other aromas of musty barns and of course some sour notes as well.

Upon my first taste I notes that there is lots of hop character for a Lambic type beer, which mixes quite interestingly with the traditional Lambic character. Don't get me wrong, the hop character is fairly subdued but it is here, even after 3 years of aging in the cask. This beer is of course sour (what else would you expect from a Cantillon product), with notes of citrus (a lemon & grapefruit mix) as well as a hint of vinegar. The barnyard musty-leather Brettanomyces character is quite prevalent in this bottle. This concoction showcases what this fickle funky yeast can do. This beer is quite fruity as well, what comes to mind as an apt description for this fruitiness is that of sour apples.

The lack of wheat in this beer seems to make this beer a bit fuller/ richer in the mouth than a typical Lambic product. This beer is not overly hard either, especially for a Cantillon Lambic. This was a wonderful first beer on a Superbowl Sunday afternoon. It paired wonderfully with the aged sharp cheddar, prosciutto, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and rustic bread. Cantillon definitely delivered once more with this beer. This is a world class beer, whose only flaw, given the specialty designation on this beer, is that perhaps it is not quite distinctive enough from a traditional Lambic, but how can I really complain since I do love Lambic.

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Cantillon Iris from Brasserie Cantillon
4.26 out of 5 based on 2,034 ratings.
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