Gueuze (Dutch geuze, pronounced [ˈɣøzə]; French gueuze, [ɡøz]) is a type of lambic, a Belgian beer. It is made by blending young (1-year-old) and old (2- to 3-year-old) lambics, which is bottled for a second fermentation. Because the young lambics are not fully fermented, the blended beer contains fermentable sugars, which allow a second fermentation to occur.
Brouwerij Boon's Mariage Parfait
|Country of origin||Belgium (Pajottenland)|
|Yeast type||Spontaneous fermentation|
|Alcohol by volume||5-9%|
|Flavour||Dry, cidery, musty, sour|
|Related products||Kriek, Framboise|
Since gueuze is made by blending lambics, it tastes different from traditional ale and lager style beers. Because aged hops are used to produce these lambics, the beer has little to none of the traditional hop flavor and aroma that can be found in most other styles of beer. Furthermore, the wild yeasts that are specific to lambic-style beers give gueuze a dry, cider-like, musty, sour, acetic acid, lactic acid taste. Many describe the taste as sour and "barnyard-like".
In modern times, some brewers have added sweeteners such as aspartame to their gueuzes to sweeten them, trying to make the beer more appealing to a wider audience. The original, unsweetened version is often referred to as "Oude Gueuze" ("Old Gueuze") and has become more popular in the early 2000s. Tim Webb, a British writer on Belgian and other beers, comments on the correct use of the term "'Oude gueuze' or 'oude geuze', now legally defined and referring to a drink made by blending two or more 100% lambic beer."
Traditionally, gueuze is served in champagne bottles, which hold either 375 millilitres (12.7 US fl oz) or 750 millilitres (25 US fl oz). Traditionally, gueuze, and the lambics from which it is made, has been produced in the area known as Pajottenland and in Brussels. However, some non-Pajottenland/Brussels lambic brewers have sprung up and one or two also produce gueuze - see table below. Gueuze (both 'Oude' and others) qualified for the European Union's designation 'TSG' (Traditional Speciality Guaranteed) in 1997/98 - see Geographical indications and traditional specialities (EU).
There is some debate on where the word gueuze originated. One theory is that it originated from Geysa (geyser), Old Norse for gush, as, during times of vigorous fermentation, Gueuze will spew out of the bunghole of its enclosing oak barrel. Another theory is that it originates from gueuze, the Old Norse word for wheat (which makes up a portion of the lambic grist).
The most likely theory says that the name stems from the 'Geuzenstraat' (Geuzen Street) in Brussels where a lambic brewery was established. The story is that when the French under Napoleon occupied Belgium and thus Brussels, a lot of Champagne was drunk in Brussels. Champagne was something rather new in Brussels in those days and had become a real hype. This beverage came in strong glass bottles (most beer at the time was supplied in barrels). One brewer, situated in the Geuzenstraat, had the idea to collect the empty Champagne bottles and to refill them with what was called lambic beer. He added a bit of sugar for a second fermentation and re-sealed the bottles with a cork which was similar to the Champagne cork. By doing so, he hoped to benefit a bit from the Champagne hype. The new beer was a success and soon obtained the name "from the Geuzenstraat" or gueuze. The bigger gueuze bottles are still very similar to sparkling wines bottles today.
Some American craft breweries have begun blending young and old sour beers, to produce their own versions of the traditional gueuze. In 2016 Jester King Brewery released a blended, spontaneously fermented beer which it labelled as "Méthode Gueuze." However, the High Council for Artisanal Lambic Beers (HORAL) objected to the name, and the two parties arranged a meeting in Belgium. It was agreed that the American brewers would use the designation "Méthode Traditionelle" as a style name.
Commercial production of Gueuze
Commercial production of gueuze commenced in the 19th century; modern breweries that produce gueuze include:
Oude Geuze breweries and beers
Pajottenland / Brussels
- Mariage parfait Oude Gueuze (8%)
- Moriau Oude Gueuze (7%)
- Oude Gueuze (7%)
- Dekoninck Gueuze (6%)
- Gueuze 100% lambic (5%)
- Lou Pepe Gueuze (5%)
- De Cam Oude Gueuze (6.5%)
- De Troch Cuvée Chapeau Oude Gueuze (5.5%)
- 3 Fonteinen
- Vintage Oude Gueuze (8%)
- Oude Gueuze (6%)
- Millennium Gueuze (7%)
- 50e Anniversary Gueuze (6%)
- 1882 Gueuze black label (5%)
- 1882 Gueuze white label (5%)
- Hanssens Artisanaal Oude Gueuze (6%)
- Lindemans Cuvée René Oude Gueuze (5.5%)
- Mort Subite Natural Oude Gueuze (7.2%)
- Oud Beersel Oude Gueuze (6%)
- Timmermans 'Limited Edition' Oude Gueuze (5.5%)
Non-Pajottenland / Brussels
- Gueuzerie Tilquin - Oude Gueuze Tilquin à l'Ancienne (6.4%)
- Van Honsebrouck - Gueuze Fond Tradition (5%)
Gallery of Oude Geuze producers
- "Geuze pronunciation in Dutch", Forvo.com.
- "Second Geuze pronunciation in Dutch - although misspelt", Forvo.com.
- "Gueuze pronunciation in French", Forvo.com.
- Webb, 2010, p.19
- Webb, 2010, p.15
- Borchelt, Nathan (29 November 2013). "The Bruery Rueuze Review". Paste Magazine. Retrieved 15 February 2014.
- Food & Wine. Belgian Brewers Object to 'Methode Gueuze' Name on American Beers.
- The New York Times. American Beers With a Pungent Whiff of Place.
- Methodetraditionnelle.org. On Méthode Gueuze, The Disagreement with HORAL, and A New Way Forward.
- Webb, 2010, pp.30-53, 56-57
- Jackson, Michael (1998). Michael Jackson's great beers of Belgium (3rd ed.). Philadelphia: Running Press. p. 343. ISBN 9780762404032.
- Protz, Roger (2005). 300 beers to try before you die!. St. Albans: Campaign for Real Ale. p. 304. ISBN 978-1852492137.
- Proz, Roger (2000). The taste of beer. London: Seven Dials. p. 256. ISBN 9781841880662.
- Webb, Tim; Pollard, Chris; McGinn, Siobhan (2010). LambicLand (2nd ed.). Cambridge,UK: Cogan & Mater. p. 127. ISBN 9780954778972.
Media related to Gueuze at Wikimedia Commons
- Gueuze & Lambic (in English) Belgian beer styles from BeerTourism.com