This past Friday, Matt and I were privileged to be featured guests on local podcast, ABV Chicago. Co-hosts Ryan and Craig meet every week to dive into side by side tasting comparisons of a lineup of beers that are picked based on a theme of their choosing. They often feature rare, hard-to-obtain bottles, and Episode #92 was no different. Since Matt and I just visited Belgium this summer, we were invited to sample five world-class Belgian gueuzes from Cantillon, 3 Fontenin, Girardin, Boon, and Tilquin.
The personality of the podcast is lighthearted and fun, with a heaping scoop of irreverent humor on the side. I’ve been a fan since their early days of recording and it was so much fun to go behind the curtain and observe Craig and Ryan in their element. Despite their mostly goofy demeanor, these guys are pros. I was incredibly impressed with the way they rattled off their show intro from memory (which they must have done hundreds of times by now), and, as usual, they came prepared with plenty of interesting research about the beers at hand. We discussed many topics, ranging from the relevant to ridiculous–cough … peanut butter tapeworms–and I laughed even more in their presence than I usually do when I listen to their weekly show. Be sure to check them out on iTunes, and give them a 5 star rating to help boost their visibility!
So, what is a gueuze? The BJCP guidelines define this style as “a complex, pleasantly sour but balanced wild Belgian wheat beer that is highly carbonated and very refreshing.” A gueuze is typically made from blending young (1 year old) and old (2-3 years old) lambics together to form a blend of the brewmaster’s–or “blendmaster’s” in this case–taste.
My tasting notes are as follows, and I encourage you to listen to the podcast for a more in depth discussion of these 5 beers. You’ll find out which one was chosen as the favorite(s) at the end of the show!
Cantillon Gueuze (Cantillon, 5% ABV)
This beautiful beer was a golden yellow hue with a lingering white head and slight haze. It smelled of white grape and hay bale funk, and had flavors of lemon, but much of this beer was about sensation; it was tannic, had some salty-like umami, a lemon peel pith and raspberry seed/honey aftertaste. The mouthfeel was effervescent and super creamy.
3 Fontenin Oud Gueuze (3 Fontenin, 6.5% ABV)
This one was a bit more orangey-gold, hazier and had a white, fluffy head. A delicate aroma of subtle mint, preceded flavors of white grape, with a clean and scrubbingly dry finish. It was super smooth, almost like a prosecco–amazingly balanced and effervescent.
Gueuze 1882 Black Label (Girardin, 5% ABV)
My pour was super clear and golden-yellow, but everyone else’s had varying degrees of haze (and Craig’s had sediment resembling fish poop in it). This had a sting-ey & sharp cheese quality with grape, orange & grapefruit flavors.
Oude Geuze Boon (Boon, 7% ABV)
This one had a super fluffy head with a strange popcorn smell. It was pretty one-noted when compared to the others, and it was very sour, like biting into a lime.
Oude Gueuze Tilquin à L’Ancienne (Gueuzerie Tilquin, 6.4% ABV)
Our final bottle exploded a little and smelled of cheesy BO funk. It was (literally) bursting with sour zing and was by far most aggressively flavored. This one finished remarkably sweet when compared to the others.
Cheers/Santé and many thanks to Ryan and Craig of ABV Chicago for including Matt and I in their always enjoyable podcast. We had so much fun, and we’re still laughing about peanut butter tapeworms.