Saturday, April 2, 2011

The difference between gueuze and lambic

If you are into the sour or wild ales like myself you might find the flavor profile of gueuze and lambic to be similar. And for good reason, gueuze is a blend of one -, two -, and three - year old lambics.

First, the lambic that I am discussing is not the fruit blended kind, such as kreik or framboise. Nope, I'm talking about the slap you across the face, apologetically raw form, that is traditional lambic. In general it is somewhat rare to find traditional lambic outside of Belgium. Lambic is generally not fully matured until it has fermented at least 2 years and even then, much like wine, it can be aged successfully for 10 - 20 years.

Gueuze is a blend of young and old lambic. The young lambic may only be fermented for 6 - 8 months, while the old lambic can be 2 - 3 years old. Lambic is flat or uncarbonated, whereas gueuze is effervescent. Gueuze develops its carbonation in the bottle naturally by re-fermenting the sugars left in the young lambic.

Well that's just barely scratching the surface on these two beer styles. More will have to come at a later time. If you are feeling adventurous, go out and try some sours, but don't drink them too cold, they are to be savored like good wine.


PS - I got a call this week from the NHC saying that 3 of my 5 entries showed up destroyed. Bummer. However, they did allow me to reship three new bottles, hopefully they made it alright.



Also: Younger lambic is more lactic, while the older lambic brings more acetic acid to a gueuze blend. Wonderful complexity!

Lambic by Jean-Xavier Guinard (Brewers Publications 1990) is a useful book on lambic production, microbiology, and flavor, but, unfortunately, it's out-of-print.

Great post!

HolzBrew said...

Great point on the lactic versus acetic character! I'll have to see if I can find a copy of that book. I've been reading 'Wild Brews' by Jeff Sparrow lately. That book is chalk full of information.