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Barnyard funk you up, barnyard funk you up.
Barnyard funk you up, barnyard funk you up.
Photo by Kate McLean

Tales From The Top Shelf: Belgian Gueuze Lambic

From Witbiers to Stouts, Pils to Bocks, Belgium covers a wide catalog of brews. Thoughtful beermaking takes patience, a watchful eye and typically a time-tested formula and while Lambics certainly employ all of those, when it comes to lowering the lights and making the magic happen, this funky, sour craft is 100 percent spontaneous. Think of Lambic as that hilarious friend who just took a keg stand at the party complete with bystanders watching, waiting to see what will happen.

More of an organized free for all, the fermentation process is inherently unique. A vat of wort is left exposed to the open air in order to attract wild yeasts and bacteria. Once enough have collected, the mixture begins to slowly ferment, turning sugars into delicious alcohol that’s then aged for up to three years in barrels. It’s actually how all beers were made back in the day before mass production and attached to that, the desire for consistency.

Characteristically sour and often cloudy, Lambics are refreshing as hell. All it takes is one toasty day, one taste of that, and suddenly this category of brew takes up residence as a craving to call upon. Often times, fruit is added during fermentation; the ever-popular raspberry or peach varieties make for a fun change up to the after-dinner drink. Perhaps even served alongside a freshly baked clafoutis incorporating the same fruit?

Has grand-papa Lambic given sprout to the whole natural fermentation wine craze that has hipsters tattooing tributes on their inner thighs? Sure, there could be an argument for that.

A Gueuze is a type of Lambic in which one year aged is blended with older, two to three year aged. The older Lambic adds experience with delicious yeasty age, while baby Lambic adds bubbles and fresh-faced flavor. Together they undergo a second fermentation in the bottle creating a product with incredible depth of flavor.

One interesting Gueuze to try is the Brouwerij Boon Oude Geuze Vat 108 available at Spec’s Midtown. It’s eight percent ABV, and recently won “World’s Best Gueuze” at the 2018 World Beer Awards. Eye-opening really how both the scent and flavor enhanced by wild yeasts mirror the farm nearby, the hay, the surroundings. Popping open this Gueuze is certain to be a conversation starter.

“Do you smell salumi?”

“Yeah, I totally smell salumi.”

“Mortadella, what was that meat with the olives in it?”

“Olive loaf.”

“You’re smelling the vinegar of the olives.”

“Oh, it’s tart.”

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