Tuesday, October 10, 2006

99 Bottles of Beer on the Blog - Oud Beersel Geuze Ale

This is the first of a series on beer. I love to try new and different beers, and I have served as judge in a few homebrew contests (now that's a story for another day . . .). I'll eventually post about 99 beers, and I'll rank them on the side.

The first selection is one of the more unusual beers you're likely to find in a Kansas City retail outlet. Oud Beersel Geuze Ale is a lambic ale - beer brewed without normal brewing yeast, but using the wild yeast floating in the Belgian air instead. It's the sourdough of beer.

Here are the style guidelines from the Beer Judge Certification Program:
Gueuze/Geuze-Style Ale

The aroma of these beers is a complex blend of aromas from a wide variety of microbiota. These aromas include: horsey, horse blanket, sweaty, oaky, hay, and sour. Other aromas that may be found in small quantities are: enteric, vinegary, and barnyard. There can be a very fruity aroma, and some mustiness may be detected. Typically, no hop aroma or diacetyl are perceived.

Gold to medium amber color. May be slightly cloudy. Head retention is not expected to be very good.

Young examples are intensely sour from lactic acid and at times some acetic acid; when aged, the sourness is more in balance with the malt and wheat character. Fruit flavors from esters are simpler in young Gueuze and more complex in the older examples. A slight oak, cork or wood flavor is sometimes noticeable. Typically, no hop flavor or diacetyl are perceived.

Younger bottles (less than five years old) tend to be sparkling, but older vintages are at times less carbonated. Light to medium-light body. Avery faint astringency is often present, like wine, but no more than a well-aged red wine.
Overall Impression:

Intensely refreshing, fruity, complex, sour, pale wheat-based ales fermented with a variety of microflora.

Uniquely sour ales from the Senne (Zenne) Valley of Belgium which stem from a farmhouse brewing tradition several centuries old. Gueuze is the French spelling, while geuze is the Flemish spelling.

Gueuze/geuze is traditionally made by blending lambic that ranges in age from three years to less than one year and then bottled. Typically, gueuze/geuze has a smoother palate than straight lambic.

Unmalted wheat (30-40%) and aged hops are used. Traditionally, these beers are spontaneously fermented and aged with naturally occurring yeast and bacteria in oak or chestnut barrels. Home-brewed and craft-brewed versions are more typically made with pure cultures of yeast, including Saccharomyces and Brettanomyces, along with Pediococcus and Lactobacillus bacteria, in an attempt to recreate the effects of dominant microflora of the Senne/Zenne valley.
Vital Statistics:

OG: 1.044-1.056

IBUs: 10-15 FG: 1.006-1.012

SRM: 4-15 ABV: 4.7-5.8%
Commercial Examples:

Boon, Cantillon, Hanssens, Lindeman's, Boon Mariage Parfait, Girardin, Vandervelden Oud Beersel, DeKeersmaeker.
Did you get that? It smells "horsey, horse blanket, sweaty, oaky, hay, and sour." It's a tart, sour beer that is as far from Bud Select as you can get.

The bottle I tried was $5 from Lucas Liquors. The bottle comes with a champagne style cork and cage. The head has tight little bubbles, and lasts pretty well after settling from a mousse-like cloud. The beer's color is a little lighter than Boulevard Pale Ale, and it is slightly cloudy. The "Best by" date is January 26, 2025, so this is a beer you can store for a while, but I'm not willing to wait.

The flavor is sharp, sour and refreshing. It's kind of like a blend of grapefruit vinegar and wheat beer. No hop flavor, but there is a kind of oaky bitterness to balance the sweetness of the beer.

This may be one of the ultimate beer snob beers. It would be virtually undrinkable if you popped open a bottle at a softball game - the shock of a mouthful of tart, vinegary lamgic would probably cause you to spit it out and assault the person who handed it to you. But, if you know about the way it is created, in open fermenters in Belgian barns, where it has been produced for centuries, and if you're looking for something complex and totally different, this is a memorable, interesting, wonderful beer that will expand your idea of what beer can be.


Anonymous MarieP said...

While I was volunteering tonight I said that I needed a drink. And I was handed a beer. Not just any beer but a beer by Blue Moon Brewing Company, called Pumpkin Ale. It states on the bottle;"With its cove, nutmeg and allspice flavors, this amber-colored ale is perfect for fall's crisp, clear days...." & "This amber-colored, naturally flavored ale is brewed only in the autumn & combines the flavor of vine-ripened pumpkin & spices with traditional crystal malt." 5.6% alc. by volume. No wonder I liked it. Brewed by Molson CANADA, imported by Blue Moon, Golden, Co. The label was cool looking too( http://www.beerlabels.com/labels/labels.pl/262/blue-moon-pumpkin-ale.html )

10/10/2006 11:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm more of a small batch bourbon man myself.

I've outgrown carbonation.

Or maybe carbonation has outlived me.

In any event, good Kentucky sippin' whiskey is what peels my potato.

10/11/2006 7:28 PM  

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