Tag Archive: Gueuze


Oud Beersel: Oude Geuze Vieille Vandervelden 135 Years (Belgium: Gueuze Lambic: 6.5% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy yellow and pale. Small bubbled carbonation with a small white head rim.

Nose: Oats. Clean and tart. Dry white wine. Light white grapes. Muesli.

Body: Fizzy. Champagne. Slight cheesy yeast that rises. Dry sherry. Black cherry. Chalk touch. Madeira. Dried apricot. Apple cider. Moderate funky character.

Finish: Dry sherry. Sultanas. Slight chalk. Light tart apples and grapes. Plums. Tart cider. Cheese puffs.

Conclusion: Been trying a few of these darker barrel contents aged lambics recently – I quite enjoy them – they add a nice depth to what is traditionally a more sharp flavour dominated style. This one lets the wine foeder ageing show through more obviously than the others I have encountered. Lots of raisins, through into plums and black-cherry rising up out of the fresh beer.

It feels like a traditional lambic mixed up with tons of Christmas fruitcake imagery – It still shows the cider notes and white wine influence that I associate with lambics and delivers them it a dry style – however that imagery is easy matched, if not exceeded, by the red wine notes that come through.

The main lambic style is not too harsh – the traditional horse blankets aroma is muted and the main body is dry rather than sharp. It feels very dry white wine like as I’ve mentioned and it is a solid base, but here is mainly just setting a lambic sandbox for the darker red wine notes to play in.

Together it is rich and rewarding, tasting much more red wine like than it looks and all nestled within a well done lambic character. It may show more of the foeder ageing than it does the base lambic, but it is nice to see the “wine of beers” showing something a bit more red wine and sherry styled to keep fans of that happy, while still not betraying the more white wine lambic base.

A very nice experience.

Background: Another beer I picked up as part of Independent Spirit’s big influx of unusual sours. This one is a mix of one year old lambic aged in foeders that had held red Brunello di Montalcino Tuscany wine and three year old lambic from Oud Beersel foeders. I’m presuming the 135 relates to the 135th anniversary of the brewery being set up (1882).

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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.

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.

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.

Van Honsebrouck: St.Louis: Gueuze Fond Tradition (Belgium: Lambic Gueuze: 5% ABV)

Visual: Ruddy amber. Moderate head made up of small off white bubbles. Small bubbled carbonation as well.

Nose: Tart apples. Dry white wine. Blankets. Lemon sherbet.

Body: Fruit acidity. Cloudy apple juice. Jiff lemon. Sour but not heavily so. Slightly drying. Sherbet and meringue. Cream.

Finish: Squeezed lemon on scampi. Meringue.

Conclusion: This is something a bit different in the lambic world. The dryness and sourness of the spontaneous fermentation is matched by meringue sweetness and a mix of tart apples and lemon. It feels thicker than usual as well, the lambic equivalent of cloudy fruit juice in its texture. All this makes it bloody refreshing on a hot summers day.

The difference this makes to the beer is exceptional. Thicker texture makes for a mouthfeel closer to a traditional beer without losing that lambic teeth drying nature. The flavours are more subtle. There are dry wine touches, but the mellowness allows the lemon freshness and tart apple to really express itself.

The distinct sweetness is an odd one. There are meringue like elements, and almost sweet cream touches. It is a sharp departure from expectations, and fans of traditional Gueuze may find it out of place. Then again, as explained in the background section. Traditional lambic fans may not be drinking this due to its region of creation.

As a summer session drink this is great. The flavours suit chilling well and are not much impacted. As an induction to lambics it takes the edge off without the sugary sweetness of some of the mainstream bunch. For seasoned veterans of the lambic this is a nicely different interpretation.
All in all a lovely innovation.

Background: When is a lambic not a lambic? Well according to “100 Belgium beers To Try Before You Die” a lambic can technically only be from the region of Brussels and Payottenland.   This makes this beer a bit of a wild child as it does not originate from those areas. On the other hand I’ve been drinking lambic style beers from say, Denmark, so that makes no never mind to me. Drank quite chilled at the tail end of a too warm day. Reading the books review after drinking the beer I note they refer to a butterscotch element to the finish, which while I had not identified does seem very relevant.

Hanssens Artisanaal: Oude Gueuze (Belgium: Lambic Gueuze: 6% ABV)

Visual Clear pale gold with a small bubbled white head.

Nose: Horse blankets, chestnuts. Light crushed meringue and peaches contrast an earthy turmeric aroma.

Body:  Quite tart, apple and vinegar.  Slightly acidic white wine feel. Wholemeal bread. Almost milky centre if held on the tongue for a while. Lemon.

Finish:  Lemon curd and wheat. White grapes and orange peel mix with gooseberries. Dry and slightly earthy is what remains longest. Pink grapefruit and teabags. A slight vinegar hangs at the back of the throat.

Conclusion: How very civilised a lambic, yet still with enough wit to entertain polite company. Or to put another way this is a restrained yet still noticeably acidic gueuze.  Very much tingles and refreshes. Occasionally just a touch too much acid at the back of the throat, but otherwise balances well.

The finish comes in very dry, and almost wine like.  Initially not so much to my tastes until a degree of pink grapefruit added to the mix.  As oddity, almost as if New Zealand hops decided to have look in.  This tart freshness is very helpful against the dryness, and feels very new wave brewing.

In-between these two the body can’t help but seem easy going. Refreshing and definitely not simple. Lambics often get wine comparisons and its here that the fruity wine comparisons are most apt.

Interesting and a beer I feel I should return to as my experience with lambics continues to broaden.  There feels like there is a lot more going on to the beer, but since I’m still getting used to the style I have not quite got the words in place.

A good refreshing beer, and one I will return to later in the lambic road.

Background: Drunk as a lambic warm up to returning to the Cantillon once more in a few days time. I was a tad nervous going into this as I sampled their kriek beer in Belgium and found it exceptionally sour so wondered how hard the raw product would hit.

Mort Subite: Oude Gueuze (Belgium: Gueuze Lambic: 7% ABV)

Visual: Clear golden with a thin sheen of creamy bubbles.

Nose: Light bread, roasted nuts. Light sourness and horse blankets. White wine and plain crisps.

Body: Tart. Gooseberries. Light vinegar. Potatoes. Apple cider. Light coriander. Slightly creamy. Sherbet lemon.

Finish: Vinegar. Slight cherries at the very end. Salt and vinegar crisps. Brown bread. Drying white wine feel. Carrot. Traditional Turkish delight and lemon cheesecake.

Conclusion: Sudden death? Strange name for a beer that tends to be associated with the sickly sweet cherry beers in its line up.  This one is a much more subtle beast, and a beast it is still, though the massive acid kick of some lambics is just restrained a touch.

The slight vinegar, horse blanket aroma and lemon that I have come to see as staples of a fine lambic all show up in their full glory, and it brings the expected mouth drying freshness for show. So far so good.

The finish is a nice touch, lots of complexity. The flavours seem almost holographic, with initially simple flavours forming complex tastes as it maps across the tongue.  It plays all this with a charm that helps you keep you on board for this challenging style.

For those who have played with the big guns, this wont be a stand out, but it’s a damn firm stepping stone. A balance from the sweet mainstream and the deep waters of Cantillon. This balance makes it definitely drinkable, and plays a firm place in my current exploration of the lambics.

Background: Drank at the wonderful  “t Bruge Beertje” with the watchful eye of Michael Jackson looking over our shoulders from a  picture on the wall.  A fantastic pub, even if I was mildly irritated due to having lost a jumper over the course of our journey around Bruges.  These notes were slightly hard to read, not due to my terrible handwriting (though it is terrible) but during a swarm of midges the notebook ended up being used as an improvised weapon against the bloodsuckers.

As for the beer itself, Mort Subite are generally sweeter and more entry level lambic. However I had head these Oude versions were something a tad above the rest, so thought I would look them up whilst I was in the city.

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