Classical Beer Review: Bacchus Kriekenbier

This is a post by regular contributor Kimberley, who runs the social media at BCS. Kimberley is currently writing up her PhD in Mediterranean Archaeology and is based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Every once and a while, she will blog at BCS about all things beer and Classical in the Low Countries or – as I’d like to call it – ‘The Nether Regions’.

The labels on Bacchus Kriek – left a description, right the ingredients.

Bacchus is one of the oldest recipes brewed by Castle Brewery Van Honsebrouck. It is sold in three varieties, namely the Oud Bruin, Kriekenbier en Frambozenbier (i.e. the ‘regular’ Flemish Old Brown, the Old Brown with sour cherries and the Old Brown with raspberries). In my second beer haul at Bierderij Waterland,* I managed to obtain both the Kriek and Framboos – both protected regional products of West Flanders (!). I decided to review the Kriek first. Bacchus Kriekenbier is sweet but not too sweet. The brew definitely has that sour cherry flavor, although its tartness is faint and builds up while drinking. The finish is best described as ‘boozy’, which could well be due to the aging of the beer in oak wine barrels – which give the beer its name.

Bacchus is the Roman god of wine and winemaking. His Latin name comes from the Greek Bakhos – although the god is better known in the Greek Pantheon as Dionysos. Bacchus a.k.a. Dionysos is usually depicted as having a following of Satyrs and ‘wild’ females, known as the Maenads in Greek and the Bacchantes in Latin. These female followers would drink and dance themselves into a frenzy as initiates of a secret cult surrounding the god. As part of this cult, large festivals were held by both the Greeks and Romans.

In Latin, these festivals are known as the Bacchanalia – which ancient sources such as Livy misleadingly describe as rife with binge drinking, eating and orgies. The Greek equivalent, at least, was better known for its theatrical competition, which crowned as its winners famous plays still performed today such as Sophocles’ Antigone or Aeschylus’ Oresteia. Despite this more ‘highbrow’ character, modern usage tends to follow Livy in associating Bacchanalia with the type of debauchery that would do the cast of Jersey Shore proud.

0.375 Liter
5.8% ABV
Ingredients: water, wheat, barley malt, sugar, Stevia, hops, cherry juice, ascorbic acid
Brewed: Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck, Izegem, Belgium

* BCS has no affiliation with Bierderij Waterland. I mention their store and brewery out of my own motivation to support the #drinklocal movement.


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