Step 2: Find a top quality beer store.
Step 3: Open your mind and palate, and enjoy one of the true Belgian gems that fall into this very artisinal style.
Starting with Step 1, there are a couple variations on the pronounciation, but just remember BOOZE, as “gooze” is one of the most common and easy ways to say this here in the US. The other variation would be more true to the way it’s pronounced in Belgium, which sounds a bit like “huse” or “husah”. As strange as that may seem, check it out here via the Babble Belt’s Belgian beer pronounciations.
So what is a Gueuze? Essentially, it’s a blending of ‘old’ and ‘new’ lambics (1, 2, and 3 year old varieties) … So what’s a lambic? A sour/lactic, pale, wheat-based ale with wheat and barnyard characteristics, and no carbonation. We’ll do another blog on straight/unblended lambics at another time (our Fruit Lambic post is here). But back to the topic at hand…
The Gueuze style is a refreshing and brisk style of beer that’s perfect for the Summer months. It will present with a moderately sour/acidic aroma that should carry plenty of farm-like qualities (think hay, horseblanket and goat … not pig crap). Hop heads will likely be turned off by this one, as it has no hop presence. The flavors should be a nice balance of the tart sour (think white grape skins) with wheat and malt, and possibly a touch of oak and/or honey sweetness. The other distinguishing factor separating it from a lambic is the carbonation – there should be a high level present, in an otherwise similarly light yet tart mouthfeel. Below is the Gateway Beers profile of the typical characteristics you can expect, on a 1-5 bar scale:
The tart, lemon-like qualities of the Gueuze are very aptly suited to a ton of seafood pairings. The style is a terrific start to a meal as an appetizer, as it’s not the least bit heavy, and pairs with plenty of lighter cheeses. Mussels steamed in gueuze are very popular in Belgium (“moules frites” if you toss in some fries), and oysters will find a nice home with a gueuze as well. And if you’ve ever had a good ceviche, you’ll understand that it will be a fine plate fellow. Entrees should focus on the seafood side of the menu as well. Lighter Mexican meals with lime, chilies, and avacado will be fantastic. Fattier fish and bird dishes (salmon, bluefish, goose) are always good choices as well, as the effervescence and acidity will cut through well, and balance the meal. Also consider spicy crab cakes.
The Gueuze is a distinctly artisanal style of beer, carefully handcrafted in the Senne Valley region of Belgium. Given all the time and effort put into creating it, we suggest serving it properly… not too cold, and in a nice tulip or flute-style glass.
This brings us to Step 2. Find yourself a fine beer store in your area to pick up a couple varieties of gueuze to try. If you’re lucky enough to be in the Philly area, may we recommend these take-out locations and distributors. Below are some fine selections to start with:
– Girardin Gueuze 1882, 5% ABV (Dilbeek- St Ulriks Kapelle, Belgium)
– Drie Fonteinen Oude Gueuze, 6% ABV (Beersel, Belgium)
– Cantillon Gueuze 100% Lambic, 5% (Brussels, Belgium)