by Yvonne van Houtum Blogger at Bierliefde
About fresh and sour geuze beersWild fermentation beers
There’s nothing better than drinking a fresh and sour Geuze beer on a warm summer’s day. These beers are typified by their champagne-like freshness, deep, warm notes and a funky flavour. The complex flavour ranges from slightly to extremely sour. Geuze is a beer style that was created by mixing young and old Lambics and originates from the Belgian Zennevallei near Brussels.
Geuze is a blend of young and old Lambics. Lambic is produced by a process of spontaneous fermentation. The wort of malted barley and at least 30% un-malted barley is opened and exposed to the air, which releases a unique, funky flavour. It’s then placed in wooden barrels for fermentation. It takes three years before the Lambic is fermented, by which time all traces of carbon dioxide are removed.
You can drink Lambic pure, but it’s mostly used to make Geuze. The taste of a young Lambic is slightly sweet and develops a subtle acidity. Old Lambics can be incredibly sour. By using different barrels from different years to mix the beer, Geuze is created. The young Lambic starts the fermentation process and adds carbon dioxide to the beer. Old Lambics add character. In creating a Geuze, it’s the task of the blender to maintain the right balance between these various different Lambics.
Geuze has a complex flavour ranging from deeply acidic to champagne-like freshness, warm, deep tones and a funky character. A Geuze produced according to traditional methods is known as an Old Geuze. This is legally protected name which can only be used for old Lambics of at least three years old which have been aged in wooden barrels and have not been sweetened. Old Geuzes are unfiltered and unpasteurised. Boon Oude Geuze is a good example.
Other types of Geuze Faro
Artisanal, more contemporary Geuzes are produced according to traditional methods, but sweetened. This makes them more accessible to the average beer lover. Mort Subite Geuze Lambic is an example. A Lambic which is sweetened during the bottling process with candy sugar is known as a Faro, like the Lindemans Faro for example.
Spontaneously fermenting beers are also produced beyond the Zenne Valley. These beers are not allowed to be labelled as Geuzes, however, as this is a legally protected name for beers containing regional microfauna.
Kriek & Old Kriek
Kriek Lambic is a Lambic beer to which sour cherries are added. Boon Kriek contains 250 grams of sour cherries per litre of Lambic. The Lambic blender makes a variation of the Geuze with flat Kriek Lambic after a few months of ripening, by removing the cherry stones and pulp and bottling the Kriek Lambic with a dash of young Lambic. This restarts the fermentation process, a traditional method better known as Old Kriek.
Fruity, as well as cherry, Lambics are also produced. Framboise, also by Boon, is an example. Almost all other fruit beers are made using syrups or even just colourings and flavourings.
Champagne bottles, serving and storing
Geuze is sold in champagne bottles of 37.5 and 75 centilitres. A sturdy bottle is essential as the fermentation process releases a considerable amount of pressure, just like the fermentation of champagne.
A Geuze is best served in a tulip-shaped or pint glass at a temperature of 6-8 degrees Celsius.
Geuzes are extremely suitable for storage, certainly for a period of up to 30 years. The flavour will soften and become more well-rounded. Bottles are best stored horizontally to prevent the cork from drying out.