I'm about to get a little James Brown funky all up in here today. And I mean funky. Why? Because today I'm talking about the funkiest beer around. A little beer style called Gueuze.
This super sour style has been called "farmhouse" or "barnyard" but really the only way I know how to describe it to accurately get the point across is "funky." In other words, its got a little funk to it. Haaaaay!
Gueuze is a pale, dry and obscenely complex beer, and it's not for the weak of heart. This beer will make a decision-maker out of you as it evokes either love or hate. I, personally, am a lover. But I was also the kid in school who started her own "Lemon Club," whose initiation rite was to bite into a big wedge of lemon without making a face. But, I digress.
If you are a beer drinker, you've probably heard of Lambic style beers before, and you probably associate them with sweet fruity beers. But Lambics are actually very tart, sour beers to which brewers add maserated fruit in order for them to be more palatable for us Americans, who are used to tasteless, pale, fizzy, yellow water. True Lambic beer comes from only one place in the world (the Senne valley in Belgium) and is spontaneously fermented by wild yeast and fermented in wood barrels. A Gueuze is a blend of un-fruited mature and lambic (usually 1-3 years old) and young lambic (possibly as young as five months old) beers, which, according to Brewer Garrett Oliver, produces "good carbonation and acidity while still retaining great aroma, complexity and length."
If all this sounds good, here are some Gueuzes to get your funk on.
Lindemans Gueuze, Vlezenbeek, Belgium
The reason I'm writing this article today is because I ran across this beer in the grocery store and was astounded. Lindeman's is known for making very sweet lambics. In fact, the first review I ever did on this site over two years ago was Lindeman's Peche. When I saw that they were selling Gueuze, I immediately bought it and tried it. This beer is good: not too assaulting, super dry, like a tart champagne with brief fruit and citrus notes. If you are already into Gueuzes, this might be a bit weak for you, but it is the perfect starter Gueuze.
Cantillon Gueuze, Brussels, Belgium
This particular Gueuze is a blend of one, two, and three year-old Lambics. It's got a similar profile in the way that most Gueuzes do, but this one has a grassy herbaceousness to it. Darker than the Gueuze's I'm used to, this one pours a copper orange and has good acidity, but its more of a vengar acidity vs. champagne. This beer is great, but definitely more challenging than the Lindemans.
Girardin 1882 Black Label, Sint Ulriks-Kapelle, Belgium
This is my favorite Gueuze. In fact, I perv out on this beer. Its the bomb diggity of all the Gueuze I've had. This beer is a funk bomb on the nose, but then once you get past it, you can smell, citrus, apricot, pear. This flavor is big and super barnyard sour, but damn is there good acidity with green grapes and apples in the finish. Crazy funky and yet still an amazing drinkable balance. So good....so good.... I got Gueuze! Haaaay!
Pronunciation Debate: Some people say that Gueuze is pronounced "Ger-zer," but when I asked some French winemakers how to pronounce it, they said "Gooze" - I usually say "Gooze" because more people understand me when I do. In my experience, "Ger-zer" only leads to one reaction, and it's "What ?!?"
Written by The Beer Chick, October 6, 2008
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