25 Beers of Christmas: Oude Gueuze Tilquin a L’Ancienne

Oude Gueuze Tilquin a L’Ancienne

Gueuze (Lambic)

6.4% ABV

Gueuzerie Tilquin – Rebecq-Rognon, Belgium

 

For several centuries, brewers in Belgium’s Senne Valley have created spontaneously fermented beers, allowing wild yeast and bacteria to react with their mash in open containers to create funky, sour lambics.  These beers are hopped only for preservative effect, and focus on the wheat malt and exotic yeast and bacteria strains that give them their final character.  Traditional lambic is relatively uncarbonated, but blending young versions with aged versions creates a secondary fermentation and related carbonation: that final product is Gueuze.

Many brewers blend only their own lambics to build a Gueuze, but Gueuzerie Tilquin obtains some of the best lambics in Belgium to create their blend. Cantillon, Boon, and Lindemans, among many others, all contribute their outstanding lambics to the mix.  The final product is a beer that champagne lovers should enjoy immensely, as it is sparkly and effervescent, fruity and refreshing.  Although this is a Christmas list, Oude Gueuze Tilquin is the perfect New Years Eve beer.

This beer pours a darker gold, hazy from the wheat in the grist, with ruby/pink highlights.  An inch-plus of pinkish white foam, craggy and thick, lingers atop the beer.   The nose is a very clear funky, barnyard character, with sweet, fruity notes from the yeast and a light impression of cherry or raspberry.  The taste includes bracing acidity, hay, and wild berries, Sauvignon blanc and Brettanomyces, with a light tinge of green apple.  This beer has extremely high carbonation, very dry and refreshing, with little aftertaste. The acidity presents as tart but not puckering.

A stange glass, which is a taller, narrow cylinder, is traditional for lambics and Gueuze, though a snifter or tulip will also work great.  These beers should be poured around 45-50 degrees, though a little cooler won’t hurt as the beer will warm as you drink.  Watch the speed of the pour as these develop a big foam stand rather quickly.

The dryness and carbonation of Gueuze makes it a great partner for seafood, even oily fish or fried preparations. It’s most at home with traditional Belgian dishes like moules frites, aka steamed mussels and fries, escargot, and scallops.  Terrines, pates, sausages, and tangy cheeses will also contrast or match with the acidity of the beer.

As of this writing, I have not tried any of Tilquin’s other products, though its Oude Quetsche, a fruit lambic, is also fairly popular.  Tilquin is distributed in 29 states across the U.S. and the District of Columbia, and luckily that has included Arkansas and Illinois, the two states I’ve called home.

If you have someone in your life who says they just can’t get into beer, I say that this is the one they should try; it may just bring them around.

It’s Christmas Eve, y’all!  See you with #1 sometime tomorrow!

JAB – 12/24/1