Until I started writing about beer a couple of years ago, the only reds I'd had were hypersweet lambics and Killian's from the '90s, the Coors-bought lager made red by caramelized, malted barley. I was underwhelmed by them until I sipped a gueuze.
Though it's also a lambic, the gueuze should not be sweet. It could be categorized among the increasingly popular session beers for it's 5 percent low alcohol content. Its profile is sour and
funky, the result of a combination of young and old lambics that contain aged hops and wild yeasts.
The technique is an ancient one, reports
the Wall Street Journal.
First, malted barley, wheat, and water is made into a mash that is then filtered into a wort. The wort is boiled, then cools in open air to allow for natural yeasts to start fermentation. The lambic is then aged in barrels for one to three years. Finally, a brewmaster combines lambics of various ages and bottles them. The character of the youngest lambic allows for continued fermentation in the bottle, lending to a complexity and sourness that characterizes the gueuze style.
Some brewers sweeten it up for the masses. Avoid these -- often listed as Krieks -- and go for the true sours like the Cantillion "Rose De Gambrinus" at Tryst
in Delray. Brother Tuckers
also carries varieties. Be sure to order one if listed, and give yourself some time to savor.
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