I was reading Boak and Bailey’s article Saison cracked? the other day and couldn’t believe where they’d put De Ranke’s XX Bitter on their wild / clean graph. I couldn’t remember it having any wild character, but it’s been a while since I’d had any, so I couldn’t actually remember. I’d recently had their Saison De Dottignies, which had loads and loads of wild character, so I thought that maybe they’d got the two beers confused.

When I was in the Bacchanalia yesterday, I decided to pick up a bottle of XX Bitter to remind myself what it tasted like and to see if it did actually have any wild character. It went in the fridge the moment I got home and stayed there for about three hours or so, until I was ready to drink it. Armed with a glass and bar blade I cracked the bottle open, only for the contents to do an impressive impersonation of a fountain.

By the time I managed to get the glass anywhere near the bottle, about half the contents had deposited themselves on the worktop. When I went to pour the remaining bottle contents into the glass, it foamed ridiculously and I had to leave it for ages to settle before I could get what remained in to it. I did manage to get a taste though and I think they were right, XX Bitter does have some wildness about it. Not as much as the Saison De Dottignies, but it’s there, at the back, as a platform for the rest of the beer to sit on.

For obvious reasons, I’m going to have to get another bottle or two so I can properly contemplate what’s going on. I could maybe even do a similar experiment to The Orval Project that I’m doing and see how the wildness changes over time.

3 Replies to “Gusher!”

  1. We’re not 100 per cent sure we’ve got it in the right place. In the book (Farmhouse Ales) there’s talk of it having got *less* wild and losing some lambic character. We haven’t had one for ages but recall it being quite funky and certainly bitter. Yours certainly sounds pretty wild!

    1. Ed at the Bacchanalia was saying that all the De Ranke beers appear to have got bitterer and not necessarily for the better. There appears to be some difference in the wild character of the Saison De Dottignies he’s selling, depending on if you buy a 330ml or 750ml bottle, with more wildness in the larger bottle.

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