Time for another beer style crash course video. This time we’re talking about gueuze, which is a blend of young and old lambic beers.
Lambics and gueuze can trace their history back 400 years. There is a theory that the name gueuze comes from the word geyser, which describes the champagne-like carbonation of these beers.
Spontaneous fermentation is a defining feature of the style and this method hasn’t changed over the centuries, although there are fewer breweries that practice it. The lambic is transferred to an open-topped vessel called a cool ship where wild yeast and bacteria float in and inoculate the beer. The beer doesn’t stay in the cool ships long, however. It’s quickly transferred to wooden barrels which have their own host of bugs ready to devour the sugars.
The blending ratios for creating gueuze vary with the producer and even within a single brewery, it’s up to the brewer’s palate to determine just the right balance. 2 or 3 vintages of lambic can be combined in varying ratios to produce gueuze. The unfermented sugars in the young gueuze are crucial for refermentation in the bottle. The bottles are then condition in the brewery where the flavors take on new depth and complexity. A gueuze can spend years in the bottle and still be delicious.
This is a sour beer with funky flavors from the wild yeast and bacteria. It’s incredibly dry, and depending on the blend it can be sharp or more mellow. Here are some traditional examples that still perform a secondary fermentation in the bottle.
Commercial Gueuze Examples
- Girardin Gueuze 1882
- Cantillon Gueuze
- Lindemans Gueuze
- Drie Fonteinen Oude Gueuze
Resources: Belgian Beer Pronunciation Guide
Anybody love a great gueuze? Are you a fan of the funk?