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Archive for the ‘Style: Gueze’ Category

Girardin Gueuze 1882 Black Label (unfiltered)

October 29th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 4 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Brouwerij Girardin, Brewer: Hanssens Artisanaal bvba, Country: Belgium, Grade: A plus, Grade: A-, Style: Gueze, Style: Lambic

5% ABV corked-and-caged yo

In Stanley Kubrick’s seminal “2001: A Space Odyssey,”, arguably the greatest picture of all time, the progression of a being is shown to evolve from that of a lower form of ape to an upper tool-using form to a bland earthling to one capable of traversing the galaxy to, finally, one able to break through the gates and become…the starchild.  The highest being possible.  The odyssey of the beer connoisseur would seemingly reach the starchild level–that place that other mere mortals simply don’t understand, much less are they able to attain themselves–when he or she becomes addicted to funky sours beers.  Those American wild ales, Flanders Reds, Lambics, and the granddaddy of them all, Guezes.  Others might not understand why we like them, in fact they may even be repulsed when we let them try a sip of our glass, and, shit, we might not quite understand why we all of the sudden dig these mouth-puckerin’ tartbombs either, but alas, one day we all do.

It’s especially easy to dig these beers when you get to try world-class examples.  Such as a few weeks ago when I tippled the currently 59th ranked beer on this planet, the unfiltered version of Girardin’s gueuze courtesy of Greg at Rustico in Alexandria, Virginia.  I popped the cork to the moon, Alice, unleashing a smoking aroma of citric and funky tartness.  The taste is milder though with a crisp and tingly lemon zing.  This isn’t one of those sour beers that is so sharp you retract and wince with every eye-dropper-sized sip you take.  Nor is it one that feels like acid ingestion in the reverse.  Eminently drinkable with its low ABV, this is one of those rare beers that makes a low-ABV eschewer like myself realize that you need not be a double-digit ABV asskicker to pack in a lot of flavor.  In fact, these boys from Belgium use a mere four ingredients–one of them being H20–to produce this delight.  I haven’t had a lot of gueuzes in my life, but there surely cannot be many, if any, that are better than Girardin 1882 Black Label.  Highly recommended both to those folks scared to enter the wild world of wilds, and to those more “expert” sour enthusiasts.

A+

Hanssens Experimental Cassis

6.5% ABV

We shift the sour focus from gueuze to the seemingly more common lambic style, which are actually just gueze’s unblended.  I suppose you could call them the single-malts to the gueuze’s blended Scotch.  Glenlivet to Johnnie Walker.  I had never heard of this brewery or this beer before–your Vice Blogger is sadly not quite all-knowing–but Greg pretty much just shoved this into my hand, telling me of its rarity and crazy deliciousness while ringing the register up on my bill.  (Note to beer sellers:  if you tell me a beer is highly rare and just put it into my hand, acting like I would be a damn fool to turn it away, you can pretty much just remove my wallet from my pocket and take out as much of my money as you would like.)  Luckily, the far-more-knowledgeable-than-me Greg was right.  Not only does this beer have a meager twelve total reviews on BA–shoot, it doesn’t even have a picture of the bottle with its profile–but it was incredibly good.  Brewed with black currants (that’s what a “cassis” is you monolinguals) and “matured” in oak barrels, this was nice and dirty, tart and acidic yet balanced out with a nice touch of fruity sweetness.  Smells of intense dark fruits, just a touch of fizz, and quite complex, this one goes down nice and easy.  A slight slight debit for its thin mouthfeel though.  Yet well worth seeking out.  No clue what Hanssens is actually “experimenting” on, but please, keep on doing it.

A-

Cantillon Gueze Monk’s Cafe Cuvee

August 19th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 8 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Brasserie Cantillon, Country: Belgium, Grade: B plus, Style: Gueze

5% ABV on tap

Tastes Like Beer

(inspired by the Drunken Polack)

I was drinking with a girl sometime earlier this summer who appreciated my appreciation of beer.  She was a beer appreciator appreciator.  But she didn’t really drink the stuff herself.  More of a cocktails and wine kinda gal, she found beer bland.  Fizzy, foamy, bloating, watery, and flavorless.  “Not what I drink,” I told her.

“Show me.”

I started with a bottle of the brilliant Boulevard Smokestack Saison-Brett.

“Tastes like beer,” she said.

But it has funky Brettanomyces in it!  Without question you have never had something with Brett it in before.

“Tastes like beer,” she reiterated.

I switched to a Trappistes Rochefort 8.

“Tastes like beer.”

But it’s a nearly 10% Belgian strong dark ale.  Packed with dark fruits and sweet malts you have surely never encountered before in the Miller Lights you’ve drank your whole life.

“Tastes like beer.”

I amped it up a notch with an Oak Aged Yeti.

“Tastes like beer.”

I’m stupefied.  The men who have bought you drinks your whole life have absolutely never given you a barrel-aged imperial stout as dark as squid ink.

“Tastes like beer.”

This was a derisive statement to her.  “Tastes like beer” was akin to “Tastes like shit.”  Which is funny, because most of the time when I give a man a taste of one of my “fancy” beers–say a barley wine or a nearly-flat 15% stout or even a real hoppy DIPA–I get a completely different reaction:  “Why this isn’t beer!  What is this?!”

So, I suppose, in that regard, I should be impressed that this women recognized these fluids as, in fact, beer, but distressed that she found them all to be just slightly different iterations of the same common garbage that is most commonly defined as “beer” in this country.  Fizzy, foamy, bloating, watery, and flavorless adjunct ingredient canned products.

I’d be curious whether she’d think the Cantillon Gueze Monk’s Cafe Cuvee just “Tastes like beer.”  Surely not.  How could she?  I had this beer on my first ever visit to arguably America’s most famous beer bar, Monk’s Cafe in Philadelphia.  Cantillon makes this special oud gueze specifically for Monk’s owner Tom Peters, and it is also only available at the bar*.  Nothing excites a dope like me more than buying something that is incredibly limited and rare.

“Would you like to try our special Cuvee de Dogshit, Mr. Goldfarb?”

“Gross.  No way.”

“This is the only keg of it in the country.”

“I HAVE TO HAVE A GLASS OF IT!!!  CHARGE ME WHATEVER YOU WANT!”

This special Monk’s Cafe Cuvee tastes nothing like beer.  No.  It takes like acid indigestion.  It is soooooo sour.  Puckeringly sour.  Burns the throat going down, punches your uvula like a speed bag, and hits your innards like a napalm bomb.  It sizzles inside of you like Pop Rocks.  That full pint glass was far too much for one little man like me.  But goddamn was it one of the more interesting beers I’ve ever had.  One of the more unique drinking experiences too.  And though I couldn’t finish a full pint, and never really want to have it again, I am so thankful I got to try it.  It’s truly one of a kind.

B+

*“Tom blended this gueuze at Cantillon in February of 2006. This is a one of a kind oude gueuze. Monk’s owner, Tom Peters and Cantillon owner & brewer, Jean Van Roy, tasted every cask of beer in their vast cellar in Brussels (it was a tough job, but I was up to the task). The 3 year old cask offered up the Cantillon House Character of barnyard Brett. The two year old cask offered a medium mouthfeel and a softer version of the house character but with some earthiness. The one year old cask offered considerable citrus, hop aroma and freshness. This is very softly carbonated. It offers citrus and lots of funky, musty, earthy, barnyard notes and it is certainly acidic. One of the most approachable Cantillons made, but it is not for everyone.