Lambic beer, (or to be more succinct, Gueuze / Geuze) is a beer style that we’ve had extremely limited tasting experience in the last 6 years. The reason? The Belgian beer selection and availability is still very limited here in Redding, California. We have worked to change that since we relocated here in 2009, and it is getting better. There is still much work and education to be done, however…
Before moving to Redding in 2009, we had NUMEROUS opportunities to experience Lambic beers from 8 different producers / blenders over a 26-year period. The landscape has changed for Belgian Lambic brewing and beers in the last 5 years or so. We find ourselves playing a bit of catch up to sample some of the new products available today. So, when we found a lone bottle of OUD BEERSEL OUDE GEUZE VIEILLE on the shelves at the Liquor Barn here in Redding, we had to grab one to BrewView! Truth be told, we had the chance to BrewView it back in November 2013 when we were in the San Francisco Bay Area at the time, but decided instead to BrewView some Belgian Tripels. You know what they say about hindsight… D’oh! What can we say, better late than never!
One of our favorite quotes about Lambic beer was from British beer writer Tim Webb during a conversation with a famous Lambic brewer about spontaneous fermentation: (The wild yeasts) “are sent by GOD… HE obviously favors this part of Brussels.” We could not agree more.
ABOUT OUD BEERSEL
The Brewery Oud Beersel, which started in 1882, is located in Beersel at 10 km from the Brussels city center, in the southwest of the capital. It is one of the last remaining authentic lambic breweries of Belgium and well known for its lambic beer brewed along traditional brewing methods.
Lambic matures up to three years in wooden barrels, whereupon it is blended to make Oude Geuze. Sour cherries undergo fermentation in lambic beer and after a second fermentation in the bottle Oude Kriek is born. This unique brewing process with spontaneous fermentation is possible in Belgium in the Pajottenland region, the Zenne Valley and in Brussels, because of the presence of a specific microflora.
Due to the absence of succession in the family business at the end of 2002, the traditional lambic beers of Oud Beersel were threatened to disappear. Shocked by the loss of this cultural and historical patrimony, the brewery was taken over in 2005 and business was restarted pursuing the principal aim to protect the time-honoured lambic beers, as well as the cultural and historical heritage of Oud Beersel for the coming generations.
This traditional brewery of lambic beers is nowadays managed in a modern way with respect for tradition and the métier. The traditional part of the production process of the lambic beers, in particular the spontaneous fermentation, the maturation of lambic in wooden barrels and the mixture of various lambic casks and vintages constitutes the core business of the company. The production process is completed in close collaboration with excellent partners who manage the industrial equipment. By the synergy between the métier and the industry, Oud Beersel offers authentic products of the highest quality. (Source: Oud Beersel)
BEER STYLE AND COMMERICAL DESCRIPTION FROM OUD BEERSEL
Style category: Belgian Artisanal Geuze Lambic
Oud Beersel Oude Geuze is one of nature’s miracles. Oude Geuze is a blend of lambic from different years. One year old lambic is still readily fermentable. Two year old and three year old lambic main contribution is to the taste. Blending the lambic produces a sparkling beer that is made in accordance with time-honoured traditions. Oud Beersel Oude Geuze notable hop and fruit character is much appreciated by beer fans.
Ingredients: water, wheat, malted barley, hops
Alc.: 6% ABV
Colour: amber gold
Fragrance: hoppy aroma with typical fragrance of wild ferments.
Taste: The taste of the Oude Geuze of Oud Beersel combines from way back a pleasant bitterness with a sour yet smooth character. The first mouthful refreshes the tongue and opens the way to the wondrous world of the spontaneous fermentation with its complex subtleties.
OUR BREWVIEW OF OUD BEERSEL- OUDE GEUZE VIEILLE
APPEARANCE / THE POUR:
Poured into a tulip-shaped glass, (unfortunately we didn’t have the classic Oud Beersel lambic glass, but we find that many beers that we try for the first time express well when poured in a tulip glass). We served it at 47°F. Pours a deep golden, almost a peach color. The ever-so slightly off-white colored head pours an easy 3-finger height, and is rocky, dense, with large and small bubbles.
As the head collapses, the Brussels lacing it leaves behind is patchy and even. (We ensured this was a “Beer Clean” glass). The meniscus is medium to slow rising. If you hold the beer up to the light, you can see a very gentle champagne type of bubbling. There was a yeast haze / suspension in the liquid, due to the bottle conditioning and heavy yeast sedimentation. The rim variation color is slightly lighter than the body of the beer.
AROMA / BOUQUET:
Classic Geuze aromas- funk, sour, lactic, barnyard, horse blanket, with a touch of sour tropical fruit. Horse saddle leather. There is a very faint fresh goat cheese bouquet to it (we know that may sound objectionable, but trust us it’s not). There are grassy notes, fresh cut hay, with faint herbal notes in the background. About 7-10 minutes into drinking, more of the horse blanket aromas express themselves… almost a cheese whey aroma. You can smell more of the wheat malt character around this time.
There is a well balanced tartness to it, definite funk, but not too intense. Sour grape cider flavors. There are very faint hints of tropical fruit sweetness.
MOUTHFEEL / PALATE:
The effervescence level is very appropriate for a Geuze- sparkling, but not overly so. Dry, tart, almost a sherry-like dry finish. The beer fills the entire mouth with its sparkle, the carbonic bite wakes you up, and definitely invites to you go for that next sip, to see if it will give you a new experience.
FOOD PAIRING SUGGESTIONS:
APPETIZERS: Boterhammen; (rustic sourdough bread paired with high quality Goat cheese, wash rind, or blue veined cheeses with olive tapenade.) This beer begs to be paired with Kumamoto oysters in the half shell.
ENTRÈES: Yet another great style of beer to pair with Moules-frites. Cornish game hen or rabbit cooked in Oud Beersel Geuze- ) Konijn in geuze / Lapin à la gueuze) paired with hop shoots. Pastas and mild sausages with a rich white cream sauce and asparagus.
DESSERTS: Anything sour or tart- glazed lemon cake with lemon curd sauce, straight, high quality cheesecake for certain, lemon angel cakes with lemon confit. Or to make things easy but elegant at the same time, get a handful of fresh, juicy, white table grapes- Sultana, Flame, Muscat, and Concord.
NOTE: There are other recipes (in Dutch) at Oud Beersel’s Oude Geuze page- click here and scroll to the bottom of the page to view them.
In the Lambic beer world, there are the colorful children such as Framboise, Kriek, Pêche, and even Pineapple, Banana, etc. But the Grand Patriarch of Lambic beers being straight Lambic, and then next in the hierarchy is the blended Geuze.
We had a great time re-acquainting ourselves with Geuze beer after a 15-month absence. We have read many reviews of the Oud Beersel version being in between and soft and ultra sour and tart.
Refreshing and quenching to enjoy during the warmer months of the year, but elegant enough to enjoy at a holiday feast as an aperitif or a digestif. When you drink this style of beer, you are reminded of the centuries-old history and traditions of Lambic beer. We are glad to see that Oud Beersel survived its tough times to thrive in a big way.
A multiple award-winning Geuze, this is a world classic among the Lambics. Seek this one out for sure, it is a must have. We like that GOD Himself has his Supernatural Hands on and imparts His Divine Intervention in the making of Lambic beer. Born out of the wind from the air, Lambic beers are a true miracle. John 3:8
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