Boon Brewery, Belgium. 7% abv
If you are looking for a brew that is different from heavily hopped American style IPAs and something a bit stronger than a traditional real ale then try a Gueuze beer. I picked Geuze Boon produced by the Boon Brewery, Lembeek, Belgium. This brewery uses its own spelling of the term “Gueuze”. This 7% beer is brewed during the winter of 2011/12 and has an incredible sell by date of 2034! Unlike most beers this is an ale that will mature over the years. It certainly looks impressive in its tall bottle complete with champagne cork and wire closure. This is necessary as the beer continues to ferment in the bottle producing CO2.
The beer is effervescent when first poured but soon becomes still. It is dark amber in colour with a complex, sour taste. The 7% alcohol is warming but the beer is curiously refreshing for an ale of such strength. It is almost like a rough, very dry, farmhouse cider but with a vinous flavour, which is partly caused by the beer’s maturation in wine barrels. This is a beer to savour over a seafood platter or perhaps the traditional Belgian meal of mussels and frites.
Gueuze is a traditional style of beer from the Payottenland region of Belgium. The beers are made by blending young and old lambic beers together and maturing them for several years. Regular beers are made of barley/wheat, hops, yeast and water but lambics are wheat beers which have no added yeast. They ferment through the action of wild (Brettanomyces) yeasts in the air. Although hops are added, they are there solely for their preservative properties rather than to flavour the brew. Gueuze beers give us an insight into what beer must have tasted like in medieval times. Gueuze beers are also available with the addition of cherries (kriek) or raspberries (framboise). The sweetness of the fruit helps to counter the natural sourness of the beer.