An Ode to Oude

Old wooden barrel with stopperI was recently charged with the task of updating some of the beer in one of our stores. Before ordering what I knew would sell, I spent a couple days in the store talking to the guests and asking what their likes and dislikes were, what they would like to see on the shelves and what their go-to craft beer was. The response was overwhelming. It ranged from your usual IPA to stout, but what I heard from more than one guest was a repeated request for a beer called Gueuze, more specifically Oude Gueuze.

What is a Gueuze you ask? Gueuze is an artisanal Belgian lambic–a blend of new or young and old (1, 2 and /or 3 year old) lambic. To refresh your memory, a lambic is a sour/lactic pale wheat-based ale. Because the new lambic renews the old lambic, the Gueuze goes through a secondary fermentation where the wild yeast true to lambics creates a Champagne-like sour beer with a dry cider-like mustiness and notes of hay and wheat on the nose. Gueuze tends to be very sour and tart, more so because it is on the dry side and has no added sugar. There is no hop profile at all. The only hops that are in this are aged and used only as a preservative. So hop heads beware: This is not something that usually appeals to your taste buds.

Oude Gueuze is primarily found in Champagne-style bottles and usually have a cage and cork. Oude Gueuze should be served in a crystal flute or tulip glasses. I recommend crystal such as Riedel or Spiegelau stemware. Oude Gueuze should be served at a temperature of 50-55 degrees. And don’t forget the food. This tart sour ale pairs well with Brie, Gouda, blue cheese, and Limburger cheeses for an appetizer. If you really want to be traditional, use some of your Gueuze to make Moules Frites (Mussels and fries), a dish consumed by many in Belgium. Needless to say I have found several Oude Gueuze that are currently occupying not only the stores’ shelves now but also the shelves in my fridge in preparation for the next celebration… and tonight sounds like a good time to celebrate.Champagne style cork belgium beer bottleHeather Fassett, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits Beer Consultant

Follow me on Twitter @abcbeerheatherf

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