30 December 2008

Belgian Champagne you say?

On New Year's Eve many millions of Americans will be popping the cork on a bottle of champagne, sparkling wine most likely, but how about popping the cork on what some call Belgian champagne, (I think this is an American term) better known as gueuze (say Ger-ser while clearing your throat and you've got it). Gueuze is a blend of old and young lambic beers, and it will usually range between 4% and 6% ABV. The young and old lambic beers are usually blended, bottled, and then aged anywhere from 18 months to 36 months depending on the flavors that the brew-master or blender is looking for in their product. An aging time of at least six months is mandated by law in Belgium. The beer provides the complex flavors of young lambic like tartness and spiciness, but then the more mature features of the old lambic round out the beer. The mixing of young and old lambic is a pure art form that will change greatly from cask to cask. It could vary from 30/70 young-to-old or 70/30 young-to-old, or it could end up anywhere in-between.

The beer is also spontaneously fermented. This means that the wild air of Belgium inoculates the wort to create the beer. This beer is not like any other beer you have ever had. The normal hop presence that most beers have is gone, and it is replaced by a myriad of complex flavors ranging from sour, acidic, horse blanket funk, cider, dry fruit, and is carbonated much like a dry champagne would be. If you want authentic gueuze make sure to look for "refermented in this bottle" on anything that you are buying for the real traditional taste. This beer isn't for everyone by any means, but instead of buying that third of fourth bottle of Korbel, try a wonderful traditional gueze instead.

Commerical Examples of Gueuze: Gueuze Giradin 1882 (pictured above), Drie Fonteinen Oude Gueuze, Cantillion Gueuze 100% Lambic, and Lindemans Gueuze Cuvee Rene. I've personally seen all of these beers at Party Pak, but hopefully others can chime in on where they have any of these around town.

Have a safe and happy New Year



  1. Cool post! Where'd you find yours (another way of saying "is it at Kahn's?") and what's the price range?

  2. I got this at Party Pak for 5.99 about eight months ago.

  3. Erin, Kahn's says they have the Girardin and Lindemans. The Girardin is listed at $8.99 a bottle, and the Lindemans is $10.99. For future reference, check out kahnsfinewines.com. They have a searchable database of their inventory.

  4. I love a good gueuze, but my vote for the best "Belgian Champagne" would be for DEUS, Brut des Flandres Belgian Ale. You can't beat the DEUS for Belgian bubbly.

  5. "depending on the flavors that the brew-master is looking for in their product"

    Really more of what the blender is looking for - blenders like George Hanssen come to mind