Tag Archive: Geuze


Mikkeller: Boon: Oude Geuze (Vermouth Foeders) (Denmark: Gueuze: 6.6% ABV)

Visual: Hazy pale apple juice colour with moderate white bubbled head.

Nose: White wine. Dry. Oats. Black pepper. Dried apple. Appetizer. Spritzy notes. Yeast funk.

Body: Apple front. Dry. Dry white wine. Oak. Dried apricot. Slight charring. Yeast funk. Slightly sour. Chalk. Menthol Vanilla.

Finish: Dry white wine. Yeast funk. Mature cheese. Peppery. Dry lemon juice. Apple. Sour. Oaken. Champagne. Slight peppermint.

Conclusion: Ok, I wasn’t expecting this to be so apple touched in flavour. It isn’t cider like, which would be how you may expect apple in a lambic to come across, but more like dried apple chunks that have been left in the mix. Beneath that is a very dry, slightly sour, white wine character. It is a surprisingly intense beer though with notes like pepper, slight charring and oak all coming into the mix. While wood notes aren’t unusual in a lambic, this definitely feels more woody than most and more spritzy with it. It has a fizzy mouthfeel that comes across through the dryness.

The rougher edges make it feel like a prickly beer – sour and peppery edges over a white wine and lightly menthol to peppermint touched base. As these settle a vibrant yeast funkiness rises – mature cheese notes complement by the pepper to create a fuller and more rewarding mouthfeel and taste.

It always feel slight sour though – very dry and mouth tingling with an unusual set of minty notes freshening and accentuating the dry base. Its a good look if a tad rough around the edges. It ends up feeling even more mouth freshening that even a lot of other geuzes, which is saying something. At its best it is wakening, at its worst it as an almost freshly cleaned teeth feel – though less gross than that sounds. What makes it work is it never loses that apple character – it is not as strong after a while, but it is definitely the most pleasant characteristic and gives a lot of charm to the beer.

It is definitely an acquired taste – the more peppermint like elements take a while to grow on you. For me it was good but a tad too menthol fresh. I’d go for other geuzes to return to, but this one was definitely interesting.

Background: A vermouth foeder aged lambic? Interesting. I’m not a huge drinker of vermouth, but aware of it enough that this intrigued me. Boon tend to be excellent with their geuzes and a collaboration with Mikkeller tends to add to the quality, so when I saw this at Independent Spirit I grabbed it. Not much more to add – got a whole bunch more lambics and sours to come, what with the recent Cantillon bottle pick up at Zwanze day – so if you like these sort of notes more are to come. Was drinking this the day after a mind blowingly awesome and energetic Crossfaith gig so put their tunes on. Genuinely the highest energy live show I’ve been to in years. If you get the chance and like electronic dance-metal mash ups, definitely give them a go.

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Oude Geuze Boon: A L’ancienne Vat 109 Mono Blend (Belgium: Geuze Lambic: 8.2% ABV)

Visual: Apricot skin coloured body. Large solid white head. Lots of small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Fresh brown bread. Oats. Dry. Horse blankets.

Body: Sherbet lemon. Tart lime. Frothy mouthfeel. Brown bread. Dry sultanas and dry sherry. Oats. White wine. Marmalade.

Finish: Dry sherry. Raisins. Madeira. Slight liquorice. Marzipan. Tannins. Plums. Slight marmalade.

Conclusion: This is a strange one, in that it has a fairly condensed set of tasting notes, as you can see above, yet feels complex as hell. A lot of that comes down to mouthfeel, which I find hard to describe in as florid detail as taste seems to lend itself to. Still, I’ll give it a shot.

This is dry, like, white wine dry – yet it froths up in a sherbety fashion up front which gives a completely different first impression before it sinks into that dry main body. After that it finally leads out into a similarly dry, but red wine and tannins touched dark fruit and sherry finish. A lot of the variation is expressed in terms of feel – the tannins especially are as much feel as taste and the varied acidic, dry, sweet and fresh areas give layers to the comparatively simple flavours in a way that I still feel I have not quite explained.

So, onto the main flavours themselves – generally very dry sherry like, mixing dark fruits with vinous notes – yet, again, the first elements up front are fresh lemon and lime notes that are not seen later on. Generally though this takes the lambic base and turns it bone dry, dark and rewarding. There are slight marmalade notes late on as the flavours build up – I presume this is the cognac ageing coming to the fore, rather than expressing in the wine like notes – it really is a slow build and does not overwhelm the base lambic at all. While it may not have a huge range of notes, the way it delivers them slowly over time makes it very rewarding – everything becomes bigger and heavier over time changing in intensity if not in nature.

A lot of the best points come late on in the drink, especially the marmalade notes – this is actually a fairly good thing – they are intense notes that would have become sickly if brought on earlier.

Overall this is a brilliant lambic that is far more than it seems on paper. Well worth it.

Background: This was one of the lambics got in during Independent Spirit‘s very impressive batch of sours. There are still tons I want to get. Anyway I finally settled on this one as a) Boon have been very impressive in my experience and b) it is unusually aged in ex cognac casks. From a quick google it seems that it is 4th fill casks due to the cognac being too dominant in earlier fills which is interesting to know. Anyway, put on some White Zombie for drinking this – no reason, just felt like some retro horror themed metal. Who needs a reason for that?

Mikkeller Boon Oude Geuze Boon Bone Dry Mikkeller Selection

Mikkeller: Boon: Oude Geuze Boon: Bone Dry Mikkeller Selection (Denmark: Lambic Geuze: 7% ABV)

Visual: Hazy yellow gold. Massive white loose bubbled head. Quite a bit of carbonation.

Nose: Dry white wine. Crisp apples. White flour. Mixed oats. Champagne. Fresh white bread. Elderberry.

Body: Dry and very tart. Tart apples. Tart lychee. Tart grapefruit. Sparkling white wine. Sharp lemon juice.

Finish: Lychee and pineapple. Tart apples. Dry white wine. Drying. Lightly oaken. Squeezed lemon. Blood orange. Tart grapes.

Conclusion: Ok, yep, this is dry. They nailed that one. Oh, and tart. Tart and dry. Mission accomplished. So, it is dry, is it any good?

Well if feels very white wine influenced – dry (obviously) white wine is there, but also a hint of champagne thrown in as well. Very fresh up front, yet mouth drying as it goes out. However it allows itself a much fruitier flavour range than that description would lead you to expect. There are lots of tart and sharp fruits – apples, grapes, lemon, lychee, grapefruit. If you can name it, and it is tart, then there is at least reasonable odds it will be in there. Absolutely lovely tart flavours, but delivered utterly dry. Your mouth ends up sparkling, but oh so dry after you swallow it down.

It definitely follows the route of the more obviously flavourful recent lambics rather than the more subtle, texture playing, more traditional style of old. It doesn’t completely eschew that tradition though – due to the boon influence it really shines in the mouthfeel territory as well. While dry it is not desiccating and it has a pleasant sparkling fizzing feel without going to soda stream levels – it makes an excellent thirst quenching drink, yet also encourages you to drink more with the dryness – a fact that is dangerous for a 7% ABV beer.

Also, either I am getting really acclimatised to these lambics in my old age, or this is amazingly drinkable for such a dry, tart character. It actually feels accessible, despite the fact it has a quite extreme take on the style. Then again, maybe it is just that my tastebuds have been ruined by Cantillon. That could explain a lot.

Anyway, another excellent lambic. I would say, of the two, that Boon Black label has the edge for me. It has a slightly bigger body that makes it wow more for me – however this keeps closer to the original dry lambic conceit. Any which way, another absolute winner.

Background: According to ratebeer this is the same beer as Boon Black Label. According to 1) My tastebuds and 2) research done to confirm, this is not true. Though it is a close thing. The foeders of lambic used to make this beer did not use up all the lambic, so the remains were used to make Black Label. So same base set, but the proportions were different, resulting in a noticeably different beer. Going by my google they say Black Label should be more full bodied, which matches the notes I had done before looking at that, so sounds right by me. Grabbed from Brewdog’s guest beer section, this was drunk in silence on a warm day, chilled way down. Warning the cork pops out very easily, I barely touched it before it erupted in my hands. I had to drink this one quickly, it was coming up to its 2035 Best before date :-p.

Boon Old Geuze Boon Black Label

Boon: Old Geuze Boon: Black Label (Belgium: Geuze Lambic: 7% ABV)

Visual: Clear banana yellow. Huge solid white bubbled head. Large carbonation.

Nose: Crisp. Wheaty. Fresh cut apples. Mild earthy spice. Tart white grapes. Fresh cooked pizza dough base.

Body: Very tart. Sharp lemon. Froths up easily. Lime notes. Oats. Solid mouthfeel. Light banana custard and pineapple. Grapefruit. Peach syrup.

Finish: Lemon juice. Slight meringue. Light oak. Lime juice. Apricot. Dry white wine. Oats. Apples. Grapefruit.

Conclusion: Juicy. Tropical juicy. You know, considering that this is the driest boon yet, or so the bottle says, this has a fruity character that is absolutely pounding. It starts out with lemon and lime notes and builds to pineapple and grapefruit burst – that lambic character means that it ends up mixing pure fruit juice with dry white wine like character.

What surprises me is that, dry as the beer is, it does not feel drying. There is no teeth tingle, nor those mouth puckering notes that a real dry acidic lambic can bring – no back of the throat acidic feel here. In a way it feels like a lambic equivalent of restorative beverage for invalids and convalescents – the highly attenuated body means that it mostly gets out of the way and lets the fruit explode.

This is good, very good – the base feels like a dry white wine but without any acidity or harshness, the fruit feels like the tartest of tropical fruit hop explosion – choosing the lambic base means that there isn’t any real sweet influence from the malt base intruding so you get everything very clean and fresh. Best of all it is very easy to drink for a lambic, As long as you are happy with tart flavours then dealing with the acidity is a cakewalk.

Beyond the fruit, at that base, there s a recognisable lambic character – Light earthy spice, oat character, and even some very understated sweet notes – it is hugely attenuated but they don’t let that become its defining characteristic – instead you get a masterpiece of lambic balance.

I am very impressed.

Background: The cork exploded out of this one – I was a mere two twists of the corkscrew and it popped out so hard that it took my hand and the entire corkscrew with it a good half foot up. Strangely, after that the beer did not froth up and out. Still, hell of a lot of force in there. On the pour it took a few attempts to get one that was not entirely froth. It is lively on the pour. Drunk while listening to some Madness – had seen Suggs do his life story recently and was in a retro mood. This had been grabbed from Independent Spirit.

Horal's Oude Geuze Mega Blend 2013

Horal’s Oude Geuze Mega Blend 2013 (Belgium: Lambic – Geuze: 7% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy banana yellow. Large tight bubbled white head. Lots of carbonation in the body.

Nose: Lightly like fresh crusty bread. Light apples. Dried apricot. Fresh. Light grapes. Oatmeal.

Body: Sherbety. Sour white grapes. Tannins. Champagne. Lychee. Apples. bready and yeastie. yellow raspberries. Mango. Dried banana. Light custard sweetness under the acidity.

Finish: Dry oak. Oatmeal. Fresh cut apples. Vanilla. Funky yeast – puff crisps. White wine. Mango. Lychee.

Conclusion: Well, I say “god damn”!. I guess having all those different lambic breweries to go to for samples to blend really gives Horal a hell of a lot to work with. Should have been self evident really, but it is always surprising to see it work in practise. This is lovely, just acidic enough to give a slight dryness, but then packing a huge fruit explosion for flavour.

I think the trick is, while it has that mouthfeel of being like a dry white wine, the fruitiness is sweet and embedded deep within the beer. You can almost imagine fruit syrup oozing up out of the middle of it to your tastebuds. Because of that you get the freshness and mouth tingle, that oatmeal dry aroma, and the dry feel in the mouth- all of which says lambic so well and leaves your mouth feeling scrubbed clean, but you also get mouth watering tropical fruit.

Alone that fruit would feel just like alcohol fruit juice, a style that is fun but wears out its welcome quickly. Backed by the wine like character as it does here, it just boasts a tremendous complexity that transcends the wine comparison used so often for lambics. This could only be done as a beer, and more than that only as a lambic. There is a weight to it that belies the dry wine character and gives it depth.

Utterly refreshing, utterly complex. One of the finest geuzes I’ve had the fortune to be able to try.

Background: Broke this open as a reward for myself after doing a massive clean up job on the apartment, chucking out or recycling everything I didn’t need. Took best part of a day. Picked up from Independent Spirit, this is a blend of lambic from (deep breath) 3 Fonteinen, Boon, Timmermans, Oud Beersel, Lindemans, De Troch, De Cam, Hanssens and Tilquin. I may have spelled some of those wrong knowing me. Whew. Of those Tilquin is the only one I have not tried before. Incidentally, the cork on this popped out nice and easy. Wish more did that.

Girardin Gueuze Black Label

Girardin: Gueuze Black Label (Belgium: Lambic Gueuze: 5% ABV)

Visual: Hazy deep gold. Thin dash of off white head.

Nose: Horse blankets. Lemon. Dried apricots. Nuts.

Body: White wine. A mix of stewed and dried apricot. Sharp. Alpen cereal. Charred oak. Dried banana hints. Grapefruit juice.

Finish: Raisins. Dry white wine. Drying feel. Muesli. Charred oak. grapefruit. Lemon.

Conclusion: I remember not being too partial to the filtered “White Label” version of this. I remember it tasting like a charred oak core and overall a too harsh drying and generally unwelcoming beer. And not in a good way.

Well this still has the charred core, and it is still a bit harsh in that element – for me at least. However here that core is wrapped in a tart fruity blanker, and that makes all the difference.

It still has a drying white wine feel at times, but above that it has this lovely tart grapefruit juice feel that is much more common, and sparks this beer to life. More than that you have stewed and dried apricot mixing that gives a sweet relief from the heavier elements.

That fruit flavour seems almost like the new wave, new world hopped takes on the lambic concept – but here it is backed by a solid traditional lambic with a real almost oaty centre, and that unusual feel you only get with a lambic and that combination is great.

There are still a few rough notes at the core, but in some way that is part of the charm of the style – those uncontrollable edges. Despite the rough edges, and the fact it is such a wide ranging lambic, it is very easy to drink – and comparatively easy to approach for newcomers.

It feels slightly thicker than most lambics as well, most of them don’t grip that much, with close to dry white wine feel – but here there is an actual viscous core despite the dryness. This beer is definitely worth a try for anyone from a seasoned veteran to newcomer, and each will be rewarded in a slightly different way by the experience.

A good beer then.

Background: One of “100 Belgian Beers To Try Before You Die” – I nearly passed this one by, as the white label (filtered) version of this didn’t appeal to me. however unfiltered beers can make a big difference so I grabbed a bottle from Independent Spirit to give it a try. Lambics are odd beers, and it took me a long time to get a handle on them – they are made with ambient yeast in the environment, and create quite sharp and acidic beers. Drunk while listening to more Against Me!. Because they are awesome.

Timmermans Oude Geueze

Timmermans: Oude Gueuze (Belgium: Lambic Gueuze: 5.5% ABV)

Visual: Hazy lemon juice. Dash of a white head.

Nose: Crushed nuts. Apricot. Light lemon.

Body: Very tart. Apples and cider. Lemon meringue. Fluffy feel behind initial sharpness. Vinegar touch. Some nuts. Jiff lemon.

Finish: Dust balls. lemon curd. Acidic. Vinegar note. Jiff lemon.

Conclusion: Lemony. Very lemony. Very very lemony. Generally I have found lemon is not an uncommon element of gueuze beers, but this is damn near lemon juice. With jiff lemon squirted into it. and then blended with lemon meringue. With lemons.

It is a bit much really. I can live with a sharp beer, hell, done right I love them. I can ever live with a beer with vinegar notes, a la Rodenbach, even if they confuse the hell out of me they can be good. This is just too one note. Ok, maybe not quite one note, but someone is letting the drummer of the band have an extended solo on the middle of the song.

Metaphorically speaking.

There are some of the other traditional lambic notes here, some nuttiness, a nice Belgian texture behind the sharpness. There is nothing that makes it really stand out though. It has a lot of the challenging notes of the style, but I don’t feel it gives you enough in trade off for that. It just rocks that one lemon filled element far too long.

Now it isn’t terrible. It is very refreshing, especially when chilled down, and the initial sharp feel giving way to that fluffy grip is interesting. However, I can’t see myself returning to the beer. If I want a sharp beer Cantillon is better in nearly every way, giving you more for the challenge, and if I want a more easy going been then this is not it.

It needs a few more notes, or maybe just to cut the metaphorical drummer’s hands off.

Background: Found this at “Independent Spirit” of Bath. I’ve been on a bit of a Belgium kick recently and thought I would give this a try, lambics are always intriguing to me, though I don’t always get them. When I find one I like though they are amazing. Anyway this was drunk while listening to some OCR Remixes of Streets Of Rage tunes, because that game had awesome music.

Betelgeuze

To Øl: Mikkeller: Betelgeuze (Denmark: Gueuze Lambic: 5.5% ABV)

Visual: Hazy apricot. Short lived white shimmer of a head and some carbonation mid body.

Nose: Apricot, lemon. Dry. Horse blankets. Oat feel. Sour crab apple. Yeasty. Gooseberry. Cashew shells. Slightly cloying.

Body: Sharp at back of the throat. Peanuts. Sherbet. Skittles (The sweets). Hop bitterness. Sour apple. Dried apricot. Sugared almonds. Tiny marshmallows. White wine. Vanilla.

Finish: Dry banoffee? Is that a thing? Cashew. Digestives. Reasonable bitterness. Oak.

Conclusion: Ok, this one is pushing my ability to do tasting notes to the limit (or should that be..TO THE XTREME!!!!) (Actually no that would just be silly) It is a gueuze, that is a style I find hard enough to do good tasting notes on, much as I am growing to enjoy them now, however the interactions with the dry hopping on the beer is just blowing my mind.

There are the fruit flavours which you would expect from the hops, but would never expect from the lambic. The two mix together though, making for very dried fruit and everything seeped in sourness. There is tart apple and gooseberry behind and the beer rocks a slightly nutty character which is not unusual for a lambic, but here it gains a slight sugared almond sweetness. I have no idea how. Everything is familiar and yet everything is the fortean unknown.

This also helps show why lambics are the wine of beers, sour, tart and dry with white wine grape like elements; Against this the hop character still sets its stake and claims it distinctly as a beer. It is so refined, all the complexity of a gueuze, and yet makes itself so very easy to drink, It is pretty much the perfect balance between wine and beer and brings in the best of both while denying neither.

One of those beers that redefines how you look at a style.

Background: This was never meant to be reviewed. Or even bought. I mean it did sound interested, Gueuze – a traditionally low hopped style, instead with dry hopping of *deep breath* Citra, Centennial, Amarillo, Nelson Sauvin, Galaxy, Columbus, Tomahawk, Tettnang, Belma, Mandarina Bavaria, Calypose and Bravo. I don’t even know some of those hops. Anyway, despite that I was going to give it a pass. Then one staff member recommended it. Then another. Then a random beer drinker bemoaned losing a take out bottle after drinking several. I was now intrigued. So I drank it. and reviewed it The result is here. The Brewdog Bristol manager compared it to a souped up Orval and I can definitely see where he is coming from.

Cantillon: Gueuze Lambic Bio(Belgium: Gueuze Lambic: 5% ABV)

Visual: Pale and yellowed. Shimmer of white bubbles for a head and low carbonation mid body.

Nose: White wine and white grapes. Fresh and acidic. Rye crackers. Lemon. Horse blankets.

Body: Apple juice. Jiff lemon. Sharp and sour. Apricot. Slight lemon meringue. Sweetness comes out as you acclimatize to the beer. Watermelon. Vanilla. Grapefruit and champagne.

Finish: Oatmeal flakes. Apple juice. Lemon meringue. Watermelon hard candy sweets. Grapefruit.

Conclusion: To think I put off trying this beer for so long. With so many Cantillons available I’ve been dancing through the rarer bottlings and never getting around to this basic Gueuze. Ok, Ok, I will also admit that based on the legendry dryness and sharpness of the other Cantillons I was a bit nervous about what the base product may do to my senses.

Wow. I first tried it overly chilled and it was still impressive and sharp with the expected horse blanket aroma and fresh lemon running throughout. However when left until it was just nicely cool it leapt up with sharp lemon and grapefruit against a vanilla and watermelon sweetness all layered over a base apple juice freshness and wine like finish. Like I said. Wow.

It is like a wine that decided instead of using grapes as a base, to instead use a shimmering mirage of fruits, and then to merge it with that oddest of beer characteristics, the lambics.

The dryness and sharpness seem reasonably restrained, for a cantillon that is. The flavours are complex, and it is that vanilla sweetness laced through that really keeps the sharper flavours feeling fresh by being an eternal contrast to them. Considering the wild nature of its fermentation I don’t know how they can consistently turn out a product that relies on such delicate balance as this, but evidently they do.

At the end of the glass, just as you have got used to all the other elements you are left with a sharp wine like drink with heavy apple juice character that refreshes and delights. Finally over the years I came to appreciate the challenging craft of Cantillon, of which this is a sumptuous example.

Background: Cantillon.  My arch nemesis. Ok, that’s overdoing it but damn I always find these ones hard to review.  The reason why is that a) they are pretty much unlike most other beers, even sharper than other lambics and b) I often find myself wondering if I have enjoyed or just appreciated on of their beers. So I keep coming back to them to explore again. Over the years of doing this I have come to have a growing respect and appreciation for them, so they must be doing something right. This is a Gueuze lambic, a blend of one to three year old lambics.

Lindemans: Gueuze Lambic: Curvee Rene (Belgium: Lambic Gueuze: 5.5% ABV)

Visual: Grain gold. Large loose bubbled white head.

Nose: Horse blankets. Walnuts. Apricot skin. Lightly sweet.

Body: Tart. Apricot. Apple sours. Peanuts. Dry feeling.

Finish: Sour apples. Dry and acidic. Squeezed lemon. Moderate nuttiness and white wine.

Conclusion: Getting used to lambics can be hard to do, but is definitely worth it. It’s nice that once you get used to the more hardcore beers in the style then beers like this seem so much open than they did at first. This is a very dry example of the style and particularly wine like.  It does bring a few twists of its own to the table though.

The tart and dryness comes along with the usual horse blankets aroma and dry nuttiness. What’s good is that it adds an apricot sweetness that it hints at beneath the main flavours. It is not a powerful part of the character, but its the component that stands out the most from the pack. When mixed with the lemon freshness it keeps the beer at a very drinkable balance without inducing mouth puckering.

It isn’t on the sweeter end of the lambics, nor Cantillon sharp. It keeps a place to either help acclimatise someone who has got past the first baby steps into lambics, or a place to relax for those who have faced the full range.  At that point the wine like character is very graceful.

It is fresh and drinkable despite its very dry character. It shows the range of the style well and keeps itself smooth despite it’s natural tartness. Very well balanced.

A well defined and moderately punching lambic of good character.

Background: One of Michael Jackson’s 500 great beers. Drunk on a very warm day, just slightly chilled down.  After Cantillon tasting I think I’ve managed to get used to the lambic sourness and have been happily enjoying the others of the style.

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