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Geuze

Brouwerij Frank Boon
Lembeek
Belgium
http://www.boon.be/

Style: Lambic—Gueuze
ABV: 7.0%

Eddie’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (World class.)


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As per tradition, I like to start off every International Month here at BeerDorks.com with a bang, and, gosh darn it all, I’m nothing if I’m not a stickler for convention. Which means we’re starting off with another archetypal—if not all that well known—beer: Boon Geuze.

That wild name is pronounced like “bone gooze” and is quite Belgian. Gueuze (note the difference between the style spelling and the beer name) is a subgenre of the style known as lambics, traditional Belgian farmhouse ales fermented spontaneously by wild yeast. Lambics are lighter brews—usually made from malted wheat—and because of that spontaneous fermentation boast an almost wine-like flavor. They can be mouth-puckeringly sour, although bigger, more commercial-oriented breweries sweeten them to appeal to a broader palette. I could probably spend all night writing about the subtleties and idiosyncrasies of the Belgian lambic and its history, but I’ll leave it to folks like Michael Jackson and Garrett Oliver to go into the details.

So let’s focus on gueuze for a paragraph. Gueuze is a blend of young—i.e. still fermenting—and old lambics. The blending of the two beers is an art form in itself, and some of the more steadfast brewers are fiercely dedicated to their craft. If traditionally made, the end product is highly carbonated, uncompromisingly dry, and refreshingly acidic, like champagne, but better. One of these is tonight’s featured brew.

On the 375 milliliter bottle, it says “100 percent spontaneously fermentated ale. Aged 2 years in oak vats. Refermented in the bottle. Brewed in Lembeek, the village that gave lambic its name.” Yes, folks, this is the real fucking deal.

It pours a pale gold with a massive white head. Immediately I smell tart spiciness, citrus fruit, and some horse blanket mustiness. Intriguing but admittedly not what most people would associate with beer.

There’s only one word to describe the start to this beer: dry. Lots of acidity—both lactic and carbonic—up front, dancing along the lines of sourness. There is some maltiness in the middle to provide a balance to the tartness, but that, too, is dry, almost cracker like. The finish is bitter and tongue-snappingly short, with a hint of oakiness in the background as the beer warms.

Like all great beers, Boon Geuze is as refreshing as it is complex. And it is extremely so on both counts. Its brewer, Frank Boon, is a true master of the style, and this beer is easily worth seeking out. It might prove hard to find in stores that don’t carry a large Belgian stock, but when you do see it, grab a few bottles. (Don’t worry about letting them sit in the cellar for a while. The “best by” date on my bottle says 2030. That ain’t a typo.) Serve to your friends on special occasions in lieu of crappy ass champagne. They’ll thank you for it.

Reviewed by Eddie Glick on February 13, 2012.
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