A l’Ancienne Oude Geuze
Best Before???

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More than 20 years shelf life? And that for a beer that is an ideal refresher on a hot summer day.

Just over a year ago I tried my first Geuze and liked it; in August I suggested Marriage Parfait (brewed by Boon) as a suitable accompaniment (for me, at least) for a wedding anniversary. Since then I’ve neglected the beer type, so it’s high time to review another version.

A further offering from Boon: A l’ancienne oude geuze.

According to Boon the beer is a blend of 90% mild 18 month-old lambic, 5% strong 3 year-old beer and 5% very young lambic, which provides fermentable sugars and wild yeasts. Before bottling, the the mix is brought to fermentation temperature to give the yeast a kick start and the bottles are then placed in an air-conditioned room where the secondary fermentation takes place. Essentially this is when the lambic becomes gueuze.

After several months of aging in the bottle, the gueuze is ready to be offered to the expectant beer drinker. The brewery gives a simple formula to calculate the bottling date; simply subtract 20 years from the “best before” date! In this case December 2032!

Maybe some geuze freaks would say this beer is too middle of the road; but, honestly, who wants to drink something so sour that it makes your mouth and teeth feel decidedly strange? For me the sourness/tartness must be there but moderately. Boon achieves this by only brewing Lambic in the 7 cold months, from early October until April with a “turbid mash” system.

Turbid mashing is the most traditional of lambic brewing techniques. The basic idea of a turbid mash is to draw off some of the wort during the mash, holding it hot before adding it back again. This liquid (because it was drawn off early and held too hot for the enzymes to work) still has starches and other complex molecules that are usually broken down before the end of the mash. For this reason it takes several years to ferment a lambic as microbes slowly break down the large molecules thereby creating the sourness and complexity of this beer type.

The beer pours a nice straw gold colour with a reasonable carbonation: typical aromas:- musty/horse blanket, lemon/ sour, grass/herbs. All of this and more ( as the beer warms in the glass) comes through in the taste. Very smooth and drinkable as the sourness/tartness is well balanced. It doesn’t suprise me in the least that earlier versions were given a gold medal in the world beer championship in 2008 and 2012.

My advice: Savour a bottle or two (don’t overlook the 7.0 % alc. vol.!) whilst watching your favourite team in the Football World Cup. If the game doesn’t live up to expectations, this beer certainly will.

Cheers!