A Brew for Beer Nerds and Wine Lovers
Meet Gueuze, the bridge between the seemingly opposing worlds of beer and wine. While beer is characterized by it's carbonation and bitter hoppiness, and wine by it's fruitiness and acidity, Gueuze draws elements from each: a lip-smacking sour beer, aged in ex-wine barrels and often fermented on fruit, with low bitterness, and mild tannins.
It's these attributes that we feel appeal to many wine drinkers: bright acidity, fruitiness, earthiness, oakiness & tannic structure, and overall higher complexity than the average beer. Also (as with wine), they are collectible and delectable. Enthusiasts pay special attention to vintage, as these traditional beers vary in taste from bottling to bottling, and are one of the few beer styles that one can cellar for many years - even decades. With additional aging time, the microorganisms in the beer will continue fermenting, allowing flavors to evolve. This develops flavour, funkiness, sourness, and often higher carbonation.
Traditional Gueuze hails from Pajottenland region of Belgium, made of a blend of young (1 year old) and old lambics (2 or more years old), which is then bottled and re-fermented for 1 year. Lambics are spontaneously fermented sour beers, brewed with aged hops, and known for their funky, cider-like qualities. With the use of aged hops, the beer offers little to none of the resiny, herbal, earthy hop bitterness found in many contemporary beer styles.
Because the young lambics are not fully fermented, the blended beer in the bottle contains some amount of residual sugars, which the yeast will consume during a second fermentation after bottling, producing carbonation (aka méthode traditionnelle, also used to make Cava and Champagne). Historically, once finished, they are dry and completely attenuated, exhibiting no residual sweetness either from malt, sugar or artificial sweeteners.
On its own, Gueuze is a great apéritif before dinner. Pairing with seafood or sausage is a good choice, as the cutting power of Gueuze is big enough to stand up to the oiliness of these foods. Cheese pairing? Try them next to a tangy goat cheese or funky blues.
We at Craft and Cru have a fondness for old-world beer styles, including a variety of sours like Gose, Berlinerweisse, and (of course) Gueuze. We are psyched that our sour selection now includes several bottlings from one of Belgium's premier lambic breweries and gueuze blenders. Drie Fonteinen’s beers are rare, highly prized, and are some of the most sought after in the craft beer world (particularly their krieks).
3 Fonteinen (Drie Fonteinen) uses only 100% spontaneously fermented lambic beer, aged in oak casks, with no artificial sweeteners or other additives. It is unique in that it both brews their own lambics/gueuze and creates blends using other producers' products (look towards brown bottles for 100% in-house production, green bottles for sourced blends). The master blender's attention to detail runs from the inside out. The lambics used for blending are selected according to each barrel's unique qualities that will lead to a harmonious, complex, layered gueuze. Each bottle not only marks the vintage, but also the production date, suggested best-by date, batch number, and brewing information specific to that batch.
Here's a list of our treasured 3 Fonteinen currently in stock:
Oude Geuze #92 2017/18 - $12 (375ml)
Bottling Date: Nov 12, 2018
This batch has been blended with lambics from 8 different barrels and originating from 7 different brews. The oldest portion in this blend is a(n exactly) 3-year-old Lindemans lambic brewed on the 12th of November 2015.
Oude Geuze #84 2017/18 - $30 (750ml)
Bottling Date: Oct 11, 2018
This particular Oude Geuze has been blended with lambics from 8 different barrels and originating from 10m different brews. This blend consists of 1/3 three-year-old lambics, coming from 3 barrels.
Oude Geuze Cuvée Armand & Gaston Honing #66 2017/18 - $20 (375ml)
Bottling Date: Jun 26, 2018
This particular cuvée has been blended with lambics from 7 different barrels and originating from 11 different brews. The oldest portion of lambic was brewed on the 28th of November 2014. While blending, spring honey from their own beehives was added. 100% Drie Fonteinen .
Oude Geuze Cuvée Armand & Gaston #2 2018/19 - $35 (750ml)
Bottling Date: Nov 16, 2018
This particular cuvée has been blended with lambics from 9 different barrels and originating from 6 brews. This blend contains 50% young and 50% old lambics
Oude Kriek #83 2017/18 - $20 (375ml)
Bottling Date: Oct 10, 2018
This batch of Oude Kriek has macerated for almost 5 months with sour cherries. The lambics in this blend originate from 4 different barrels and 5 different brews. 100% 3 Fonteinen.
Oude Kriek #32 2018/19 - $20 (375ml)
Bottling Date: Jan 23, 2019
This batch has macerated for more than 6 months. The lambics in this blend originate from 5 different barrels and 5 different brews. Final Fruit intensity is 382g of sour cherries per 1L of kriek (3.19lbs/gal)