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Geuze is one of the most complex beers in the world. To understand what geuze is, there must first be given an explanation about what Lambic is...

Lambic

Lambic (Ambrose), a drink which was already mentioned in 1559, is a malt-grain mixture that at least 30% unmalted wheat and undergoes a spontaneous fermentation, ie: no yeast added to the brew. Fermentation is initiated spontaneously by the airborne "wild" yeasts. This spontaneous fermentation of Lambic is unique to Belgium, and can only happen in Pajottenland and the Senne Valley, south-west of Brussels. The wild yeast, Brettanomyces species including the famous, fertilize the 'wort' and afterwards the lambic is stored in large wooden barrels. In these large barrels the beer is aged for several years. Lambic is a flat, foam free beer. The flavor of lambic varies with the age of the Lambic. Young lambic initially tastes sweet and is evolving into something sweet and sour. Old is soft to sharp acidic tasting.

Geuze

The changing zeitgeist, consumers wanted a beer with foam and some insightful Lambic brewers accomplished this and give birth to Geuze. The lambic brewers fit the champagne method to create a new beer. It was a blend of Lambic of different vintages and pulled it in bottles. Gueuze is still true today by old (fermented) to mix with young Lambic Lambic. The young lambic provides the nutrients (sugars) for a new fermentation. Through this new fermentation, which occurs in the bottle, as coveted yielded the foam collar. Real geuze is sold in champagne bottles that can handle the pressure of fermentation, other bottles would just break.

Types of Geuze

Traditional Old Geuze ('Oude Geuze' is a legally protected name and reserverd for selected brands)

Old Gueuze is made of 100% Lambic and not sweetened. Girardin (black label), Cantillon, Three Fountains, Boon Oude Geuze and Old Belle Vue Selection Lambic belong here. (PS: the common Belle Vue Gueuze is not a traditional but commercial beer that is hardly worth the name geuze). The following beers can probably also be listed here but are a bit special: Eylenbosch Geuze Vintage 1984 (Limited Edition, closed in 1991) => if you come across this and want to open it for tasting contact me!, Lindemans Oude Geuze Cuvée René, Hanssens Oude Gueuze, Moriau Oude Geuze, Boon Oude Geuze Mariage Parfait.

Traditional Commercialized Geuze

Traditionally made geuze but sweetened. The breweries that do this are Mort Subite, Timmermans, Lindemans, De Troch, Girardin (White label) ... Sometimes they have a traditional batch in their range.

Industrial Geuze

This geuze is based on high fermentation beer, mingled with beer of spontaneous fermentation and pasteurization. Belle Vue Gueuze is an example of this category (personal note: this is tasting like water used to do the dishes).

Other

Some other beers of spontaneous fermentation exist but cannot be called Geuze / Lambic for example St Louis Fond Tradition and Jacobins Gueuze (Bockor). Variations of modified Geuze Lambic are fruit beers like cherry and framboise. But also Faro beer wich has an addition of dark crystalline sugar. And for the real fans pure unfiltered Lambik is also an option (if you do not mind the acidic taste) the best example is possibly Cantillon Lambik Grand Cru Bruocsella but also some of the 'Ancient' traditionele geuzes come very close in taste.

References

Personal tasting (in order?)

  • Cantillon Lambik Grand Cru Bruocsella is a fantastic foam free smooth Lambic resembling a dry white wine but much more body with balanced sour / bitter taste.
  • Girardin (black label) is very nice old geuze with balanced mild sour / bitter taste.
  • Hanssens Oude Gueuze is a nice smooth old geuze suitable for everyone.
  • Cantillon Geuze (bio) is very acidic but that is how i like it.
  • Oude Geuze Boon is the classic and best know, very nice beer.
  • lindemans Cuvée René is a actually a re-branded standard Lindemans
  • Eylenbosch Faro Vintage 1988 Faro is a sweetened Lambic blend and pasteurized to prevent re-fermentation in the bottle. This particular Faro is fresh and non sticky or sweet like other types.
  • Boon Oude Geuze Mariage Parfait is a very nice old geuze with mild dry sour taste but quite difficult to find. Expected to be better then Oude Geuze Boon but often letting me down.
  • Girardin (white label) slightly chemical taste.
  • 3 Fonteinen (Three Fountains) is an enjoyable geuze but has a strange aftertaste.
  • Mikkeller Spontanale Geuze by a Danish amateur (tasted in Sweden) - brewed at proefbrouwerij.com
  • Other brands are Mort Subite, etc...
  • Some Faro beers can be enjoyed together or in stead of desert, this can be very sweet and nothing like regular geuze/lambic. Unless you are going for a Eylenbosch Faro Vintage 1988 - then we can move this up in the ranking.
  • ...
  • Kriek is not Geuze but is also based on Lambic. Not my personal preference, however the more traditional unsweetened versions can be enjoyed sporadically. The one answer i really hate in some Belgian pubs, with personnel that do not know their job, when you ask if they have geuze is "...but we do have kriek." - grr.
  • The sometimes related fruit beers are not favored by me.
  • Belle Vue: i rather have something else like a Schweppes tonic.
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Page last modified on June 15, 2013, at 12:15 PM