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: 493 | Ratings: 2,041
Photo of pmlondrigan
3.95/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2007 vintage poured from a bottle. Orange opaque ruddy beer with a really lovely two finger tight white head. Spotty belgian lace grows with each succesive sip. Lightly funky sour tang aroma, with wet horse blanket and heavy lemon. This is not the most sour lambic, although it is plenty funky, oaky, and pithy. Punchy lemon flavor blended with a dusty straw taste. Iris has an acidic and bitter finish, this is slightly off putting. I assume this comes from my buddies decision to age this beer. The mouthfeel isn't thin, or all that dry actually. Overall I'd have to try this with less age on it, but it was tasty.

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Photo of ghostwalker
3.97/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Amber body with a light haze and very thin head.

Tart aspirin nose.

Flavor is tart and dry, but smooth with a sour fruitiness.

Mouthpucker with slight astringency.

Good for the style. Definitely a sipper, but still somewhat quenching.

Thanks to juicestam for sharing his loot from Belgium!

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Photo of Reaper16
3.97/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

12oz. bottle, 2005 vintage, served into a tulip

Pours a hazy orange, sort of pumpkin colored or gourd colored. The white head is only about a half-finger at the most, even with a vigorous swirl. It laces pretty strongly in spite of that. The orange lightens to a honeyed amber when held to light.

Nothing much in particular stand out on the first whiff of this beer but you can parse things out as you acclimate to it. There is certainly some tartness to the aroma, much more lemon juice than vinegar. The smell of wild yeast is unmistakable-- a light horseblanket funk grounds the nose. There is a respectable spice aroma here. Nutmeg, I think, and perhaps thyme though I could be mistaking the leafy hops for thyme. This lambic is dry hopped and also wet hopped (crazy!), though you can't really tell too much; this vintage is close to five years old after all. A touch of cat urine highlights everything. If you're expecting the wheat that lambic beer has then the lack of wheat smell will surprise you. Iris is 100% barley and you can tell.

Lemon, lemon, lemon. That is the predominant flavor here. It isn't overwhelmingly tart, which may be a bad or good thing depending on how much of a sourhead you are. It even begins to become sweet if you hold the drink in your mouth; the malted barley flavors really show. Upon the finish this beer changes dramatically. Dry tartness develops on the back of the tongue. A musty, Brett flavor fills the mouth like a cloud. The tartness and funk combine to achieve a flavor somewhat reminiscent of a whole-grain mustard. As the beer warms it becomes increasingly astringent.

This bottle is old. It has no carbonation that you can detect on the tongue. I feel that carbonation would take this beer to an even higher level. As is, this smooth (nicespeak for flat) drinker is medium-bodied and doesn't upset the lemon cart in any way. As far as unblended lambic beer goes, Iris is very drinkable. The malt characteristic and the hopping take away some of the impact of the sourness without taking away the depth of flavor.

I'm now curious to see how a fresher, 2007 vintage compares to the 2005 I just had. The hop character is likely to be entirely different, perhaps the carbonation level too. The 2005 is drinking fine though for what it is.

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Photo of Sean9689
3.97/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2007 Vintage into Duvel tulip.

A - Pours a hazy/mirky copper orange with a fizzy off-white head. A decently aggressive pour yields about 2 fingers-worth of head. Some decent head retention leave a thin layer of head fizzy here and there.

S - Lots of funky, tart, and sour notes smacks you across the face right away. Barnyard, horse blanket, and some tart citrus notes as well but this is pretty much funk funky funkness.

T - Not quite as funky as the nose. Has tart orange-peel notes that stick out a lot and make the finish bitter. I don't know if I'm really digging that characteristic but it doesn't totally ruin this lambic. Citrus, tart/sour, some acidic notes in there as well.

M - Light and fizzy, just how I like 'em. Very champagne-esk dry finish.

D - There are other lambics I prefer over this one from Cantillon.

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

37.5cl corked & capped bottle poured into an oud beersel glass at Delirium Cafe in Brussels. 2005 vintage.

Pours a crisp clear amber with a thin white head that fades quickly to nothing, very little bubbles visible. Nose is light, tart an sweet.

Taste is very sharp and sour but super smooth and easy drinking given the style. Hints of flowers, honey and tart candy. Finish is tangy and fruity.

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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 dmbfrat420beers
3.98/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottled in 2004

Slightly hazy pale orange with centimeter white head that dissipates fairly quickly. Nice hue, and the lack of head retention is standard for the style.

Sharp and crisp, not as musty as I have come to expect from Cantillon. Notes of grape fruit and grape.

Flavor is similar to a white wine, with lots of sour and tart notes, grapes and a sharpness akin to cheddar.

Good carbonation up front, settles in a smooth medium bodied feel with a dry finish.

Anyone that can overcome the sourness should find this a highly drinkable beer.

I don’t know if I would take this beer over their Kriek or the blended Gueze, but a delicious beer from a superb brewery.

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

2005 Vintage, review from notes. Shared this with a few friends the other day.

After removing the black foil, not only did I reveal a rusty cap, but also a moldy cork. No worries though, this beer poured a hazy dark orange with a billowing head fading to one finger and great retention and lacing throughout.

Smells of moldy apricots and sweaty balls. Lemony sourness, not much vinegar. Acidic, with a touch of herbal spice. Taste follows with initial sourness, very funky mid palate. Finishes with a weird bitterness, coating the tongue. Lingering aftertaste. Very unique here, a clear product of the use of 50% aged and 50% fresh hops.

Not as high of a carbonation as the pour would have indicated, but I did savor this ~6oz pour over the course of at least 30 minutes with some healthy swirling to knock out a bit of carbonation. Very intense beer that is very drinkable considering the flavor profile. Yes please.

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Photo of kbutler1
3.98/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle. 2006 vintage. Pours a golden orange color with minimal head into my stemware. Very floral and funky type aromas in the nose. I'm taken aback slightly as this smells like nothing Cantillon I have had before. Beyond the floral notes are some fruity and lemony aromas. The taste is quite good although again, different, from other Cantillon beers I have had before. Fairly tart and sour. Lemony aftertaste with some barnyard. Light mouthfeel. Love to try this one again.

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Photo of homebrew311
3.99/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a slightly hazy deep goldish orange with minimal head. Nose is very aromatic with a strong presence of herbal hops paired with some acid and funk. The earthiness of the hop profile pairs nicely with the bacteria. There are also some notes of caramel and oak towards the end. Taste is acidic up front with a nice tart punch which quickly gives way to herbal/earthy/tea like hops. Notes of lemon, grass, and tart cherries all come through in the flavor. Overall, this is an interesting and complex beer. Definitely not my favorite from Cantillon, but that may be due more to personal preference.

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Photo of jazzyjeff13
4/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A 750ml green glass bottle with a bottled-on date of Feb 20th 2012. ABV is stated as 6%. Purchased at the brewery back in May, while on a trip to Belgium/the Netherlands. I was able to try this at Moeder Lambic while I was in Brussels - it was great!

Poured into a Duvel tulip (twice). A bright orange-amber hue with medium carbonation; much hazier on the second pour. Yields a small head of white foam that lasts for a couple of minutes before dissipating. A tart, dry aroma with notes of lemony acidity, musty barnyard funk, green apples, mild vinegar, hay, earthiness, yeast and faint hints of caramel and hop overtones. Complex and inviting.

The flavour is distinctly sour and dry, with layers of character and a slightly bitter finish. Notes of tart lemons, unripe apples, barnyard funkiness, subtle vinegar, musty yeast, hay/straw, faint citrus and a vanishing hint of caramel malt. Very faint aromatic hop overtones in the background. A mild hop bitterness upon swallowing. Mouthfeel is puckeringly acidic - bone dry and highly astringent. Quite light, with tingly carbonation and good body. Aftertaste of tart, dry mustiness with a hint of bitter hops. Incredible.

A fantastic beer. Not a true lambic, but superbly crafted nontheless. The spontaneous fermentation gives it a sour, funky character with amazing depth. My only (slight) complaint is that the hops are too subtle and attenuated - was hoping for more in the aroma. When I had this on tap in Brussels it seemed hoppier, but perhaps the time that has passed has allowed the hop notes to fade. I suspect this is a beer best consumed young. Anyway, another quality offering from Cantillon and well worth your time. Grab one if you come across it.

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Photo of biboergosum
4/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle, at BeerBistro in DT T-dot. 2006 vintage - and the cork says it was bottled in 2008.

This beer pours a mildly hazy, medium golden amber hue, with two skinny fingers of puffy, yet thinly foamy, and soapy dirty white head, which leaves little beyond a low ebbing lace wake around the glass as it evenly subsides.

It smells of sour lemon candies, mild earthy funk, a touch of brewers' sugar, pale cereal grain, white vinegar, American virgin oak, and faint noble hops. The taste kicks off rather abruptly with a lip-puckeringly sour lemon and apple fruitiness, followed by some further nondescript funky vinegary tartness, a decently supportive, and relatively sweet musty white graininess, and some weirdly plucky earthy, leafy hops, somehow not lost in the multivalent acrid morass.

The carbonation is averagely peppy, which is obviously difficult to discern beyond the sourly funky hit one takes in each and every sip, the body coming across as duly light and somewhat oily in its gay attempt at smoothness. It finishes rather dry, with that same tart, edgy, and funky fruitiness we've all come to tacitly accept and, er, love.

Nice to see what happens when things go 'unblended' in the Senne Valley - like this is all that different from this one's blended ilk - except maybe for any specific fruit's neutered contribution to the matter, and perhaps a heavier leaning on the wood vinegar way of things. At any rate, a heady, uncompromising affair of a beer, worthy, I suppose of the $30-plus price tag in tony King Street beer parlours.

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Photo of Hobbz
4/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Wild-fermented. Aged in oak three years, and after sampling my "spontaneous" first reaction was: Why?? But then my understanding took over -- an admitted novice to the style by first-hand sensory experience, but with a knowledge and desire to open up to the Gueuze and Gueuze-styled beers. Otherwise, without any understanding of what is going on here... well, just try to feed the stuff to your typical macro-drinker who "knows" what he/she likes in a beer. This would then hardly classify as beer, if not barnyard piss...

This is Gueuze-styled in that it is brewed with 100% barley malt for one (no wheat); the oak-aging process is also extra-style.

Its appearance was a cloudy orange, not too dark but with a light amber hue. Its smell was boldly, boldly sour, akin to sniffing a package of sweet-tarts. Hugely bitter, mouth-puckering sourness predominates each and every sip, first to last. Amazing. Even against a young, unblended Gueuze, this offering is way to the extreme IMO. Two other components, it think, contribute to its intensity: pretty high carbonation acts as a conduit for its natural, wild acidity (microflora acting to the max). To be honest, my drinking buddy and myself had difficulty finishing this (yet we did - too expensive and we are too proud not to in each other's company though you should've heard our laughing and puzzled/puckering speech; perhaps a bit too intense/extreme for upstarts to the style).

Related notes: My bottle was dated 2002; I sampled in March 2004. Most definitely not a "pedestrian" beer.

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Photo of CrazyDavros
4/5  rDev -6.1%

Pours amber with a large head.
Nose shows spicy notes, lemon rind, elderflower, peaches, some funk and a hint of catnip.
Very acidic flavours. Some lemon pith in addition to the rind providing some astringency along with some more peach and floral notes.
Nice high carbonation.

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Photo of krberg
4/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Once the crown cap was removed the cork moved a quarter inch above the bottle lip on its own. This beer wants to be consumed. I was amazed at the loud pop produced when the cork was removed. 3 years in oak and its still so lively?! The beer poured with a lot more head than I expected and smelled almost like vinegar. I have to stop now and admit that this is the first true lambic I have tried, so the smell worried me a bit. Iris has a nice reddish-tan cloudy appearence. It is a color I find somehow comforting. Its first taste was not as sour as I had assumed by smell, but still very tart. It finished sharply bitter. Once the initial sour shock has passed it smells of apples and grapes. I will agree with past reviewers on the "grassy" aftertaste. I am surprised that oak is not discernible. Iris has a nice light mouthfeel - I would have liked to try this in the dead of summer. After reading the love them or hate them comments about true lambics, I am very happy to say that this beer is quite refreshing and I look forward to trying other examples of the style. My only complaint is that no one is here to share the bottle with me, but I doubt any of my friends would understand anyway.

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Photo of peabody
4/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours out a really cloudy yellow amber with 1/2 finger of white small suds. Not a lot of lacing here.
Smell is sour lemons and grapefruit rind with a strong yeast aroma. Very sharp and spicey.
Taste is grapefruit dry sour with a very bitter grassy aftertaste.
Mouthfeel is a little dirty but leaves some nice oaky notes. The last sweet aftertaste is just wonderful.
Drinkability is good here. I like this beer from Cantillon. They can do no wrong.

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Photo of ThaCreep
4/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Golden bronze. Tannic nose reminiscent of an unblended lambic but more mature. Once in the mouth, we get also this, that we are not to a bad end product and not intended for consumption.

In flavor, it perceives the roughness of the wood and the acidity of wood but with the addition of a touch of malted barley (with a small light caramel taste), which increases the complexity of the drink without altering the balance. The finish is acid, but retained, and the tannic side continues to be a nice way.

Unblended lambic a much more convincing than the Bruoscella, by far.

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Photo of eric5bellies
4/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a hazy ornage colour witha tight White head that laces and retains.

S - Plenaty of funk and tartness, a little citrus and wood as well.

T - Nice balance of citrus, and woodyness with some barnyard funky sourness. The balance is very good indeed.

M - Medium body and light to medium carbonation.

O - One of the most drinkable sours around

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Photo of aasher
4/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I received this beer in a massive trade with thagr81us, thanks Calton! This bottle is the 2007 vintage.

Upon popping the cap the cork was instantly saturated with lambic. The beer pours a light bodied amber in color with a light white lacing around the glass. It appears that it may be slightly oxidized. The aromas consist of perfume like qualities, floral acid, and moderate vinegar. It tastes quite acidic and has a particular spiced bite to it. It does have some floral and tea components as well. It's interesting to say the least. It drinks light in body and dries out your palate, yet not as much as other Cantillons. Overall it's an interesting beer and worth a try. I'm curious to know why they named the beer Iris.

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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 Sideswipe
4/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

At Stone on Zwanze day

A- Dark orange, amber color. Little to no head.

S- Sour oranges and mild funk.

T- Sour and tart out of the gate with grapefruit rind and orange qualities. Some barnyard funk mid-palate followed by a citrusy, sour finish and a lingering sour aftertaste.

M- Medium to light body with low carbonation. Very nice.

O- Really enjoyed this. Interesting citrus characteristics which work quite well with the sour, funky qualities of the beer. Hope to have this agaIn. Recommended.

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Photo of aubuc1
4/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12.7 bottle dated 2005 (cork dated 2007)poured in to a flute.

pours rich golden with a steady stream of carbonation rising to a quickly disappearing head.

Smell is slightly tart and slightly malty with some spice and faint fruit. Very complex.

Taste is very sour and dry. Warm taste, but not alcohol. Sourness is cidery.

Dry mouthfeel vanishes and with the sourness leads me wanting more.

Not as great as I hoped, but a very nice experience.

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Photo of Jwale73
4/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12.7oz. bottle served in my Allagash Goblet. 2007 vintage bottled in 2009. Poured a golden-caramel with a loose, half inch, off-white head that crackled and sizzled as it receded. Nose is tart, acidic, grapefruity with a touch of cork. Taste is lemony/grapefruity, tart, dry and corky/earthy. Mouthfeel is light-medium with an aggressive carbonation level that cleanses the palate between quaffs. Not my favorite offering from this brewery, but quite good nonetheless. The bottle could probably have used a little bit more age on it though.

Thanks to jedwards:
2002 vintage bottled in 2004.
A: 4.5 - Poured a golden orange with a bright white, quarter inch head that dissipates into a consistent skim. The color on this is exquisite.
N: 4.0-4.5 - Citrus, must, horseblanket, a little salty and some cork
T: 4.0 - Sour, tart, vinegary and acidic. Good, but it's lost some of the subtle nuances I recall from younger vintages.
M: 4.0 - Light-medium in body, easy carbonation and a dry, slightly puckering finish.
D: 4.0-4.5 - This has quite a different character than the younger vintages and the qualities of each are both quite respectable; however, they are different enough to require some forethought in choosing how "sour" you want to go.

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Photo of danieelol
4/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours an apricot juice (if such a thing exists) colour with nice white head which rather rapidly recedes.

Have had this one fresher and the hops were a lot more dominant. This one starts with classic Cantillon Brett funk, really potent. Then you get the hops coming through in a balanced, integrated fashion. Lots of dried apricot and also some malt.

Taste features more funky notes with some dried apricot.

Mouthfeel is quite good.

Overall a nice beer.

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Photo of tewaris
4/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Here it is, the most weird of all 'loons. Thicker and murkier and more amber than other lambic, it is easier to spot among others of its kind. Funky, duh. Honestly, I did not detect much uniqueness in the aroma but taste is a whole different game --- much more malty but not sweet, I am having trouble finding the right adjective. And then there's the bitterness. In this layman's terms, it drinks like a blend of a lambic and an... IPA?

But finish is usual Cantillon --- sharp and dry! Interesting and unique but not necessarily my favorite.

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Cantillon Iris from Brasserie Cantillon
4.26 out of 5 based on 2,041 ratings.
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