Fundamentals #118 — Lambiek Fabriek Juicy & Wild Muscar-Elle

I got myself in a spot of bother on Twitter recently. It’s something that admittedly happens with a certain regularity, due to my acerbic sense of humour, and the fact I often forget that when you post something on the internet devoid of context, a lot of people won’t get the joke.

“Beer and food pairing is a lie,” I stated, when asked for my own “cancellable beer take”. My hope that this would get lost amid the general business of the viral thread was misplaced. I could almost hear the tut-tuts as people hurriedly typed out their replies informing me I was wrong.

I deserved it, honestly. But chaos is there to be embraced, and I did so, setting out defending my belief that, actually, a lot of beer drinkers aren’t too bothered about the food their drinking pairs well with, and that evangelism may risk putting more people off getting into great beer than it converts.

I bring it up in this review specifically because this beer would be absolutely amazing with food. But just because beer does go well with food, in my opinion, doesn’t mean it always should.

Muscar-Elle is a blend of spontaneously fermented lambics, matured in oak barrels and macerated with 300 grams per litre of Muscaris grapes. It is, quite simply, magnificent. The slight grip of tannin and tangy grape skin latches on to the lemon zest acidity of the beer, somehow enhancing the characteristics of both. The time in oak, and careful blending, softens out the edges perfectly, making every sip as joy-inducing as the last. Yes, this is definitely one of the best beers I’ll drink all year.

It would pair beautifully with so many dishes: extra-mature hard cheeses, pan fried monkfish, bouillabaisse, chicken and white bean casserole… This is a beer that could occupy the tables at many a fine dining restaurant and compete with the wine list with ease. But for me, it was a bottle enjoyed alone at midnight, in contemplative silence (after an intense session on recently released videogame Elden Ring). Just me, the beer and nothing else. In all honesty, it’s probably one of the best pairings I’ve ever put together.

Matthew Curtis is a writer, photographer and editor of Pellicle Magazine. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @totalcurtis and @pelliclemag. Sign up to our All Killer No Filler subscription box and you'll find incredible beers like this one every month, plus more great writing from Matthew and our food writer Claire Bullen.