Beer Review: Boon Gueuze, a wild beer with untamed sourness


Gueuze is a blend of several different unfruited lambics of varying age, usually 1, 2, and 3 years. The wild aspect of fermentation and the blending means that batches tend to vary from year to year, making gueuze a really collectable, searchable, geekable variety of beer. The full flavored older lambics radiate sourness, intermingling with the younger, mellow toned ones which contain the fermentable sugars that facilitate one more round of zymurgy magic. Like champagne, gueuze derives its carbonation from secondary fermentation that takes place inside the bottle, so after blending, the bottled gueuze conditions for at least 6 months before being packaged. And then there are the nerds like myself that hoard gueuze and store it for an additional 10 years before finally resigning to the urge to savor it. Just like fine wine, gueuze thrives with age.

A 12 ounce bottle of Boon Gueuze sports a caged cork that pops out releasing a gust of vinegary aromas. The clear orange brew decants into a flute glass with active, carbonation, creating a mountain of clean white head. After being poured, gueuze should rest until the temperature reaches around 60 degrees. By then, carbonation has calmed, the best flavors begin to surface, and any sediment displaced during the pour has settled to the bottom of the glass.

To the nose, the beer has the soft aroma of fresh flowers soaked in vinegar and confectionary green apple juice.

Flavors are extremely sour, dominantly reminiscent of malt vinegar, wheat bread, and tart citrus. The lack of hop character lends to a slightly cidery, champagne-like quality, which is compounded by the sparkly, light mouthfeel. It finishes with a lingering outdoorsy tone - dank, dusty, and natural. And more vinegar, of course.

If you are just becoming accustomed to this kind of brew and want to tone down the delicious sourness, pair gueuze with a soft, buttery cheese like brie. The creamy texture and mild funkiness from the cheese's rind will offset the gueuze's intense flurry of sharp flavors and allow the earthier elements of the beer to shine through.

Boon Gueuze, 6%

Brouwerij Boon, Lembeek, Belgium

In the Senne Valley region of Belgium, there's a town called Lembeek where wild yeasts blow around in the evening breezes. They drift in through the open windows of local breweries, landing in uncovered vats, magically transforming wheat grain, aged hops, and water into a beer that explodes with delightfully objectionable flavors. This spontaneously fermented ale is called Lambic, a nod to the area where the style originated, and is still predominantly produced.

Some lambic brews receive a flavor injection during fermentation - sweet raspberry, peach, apple, cherry, or banana. In the United States, fruited lambics see infinitely more mainstream visibility than their unfruited derivatives. And that's a damn shame. Without the fruit addition, lambics are tart and funky, with a ton of assertive character and complexity that leaves you stumbling over descriptors. Flavors so wrong that they're right.

Scroll to read more Food News articles


Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.