Four Brewers | The Gueuze Showdown
Season 3, Episode 40 – This week, we’re blind ranking 13 different gueuze-style beers.
The gueuze showdown was inevitable, really. I mean, IPA, stout, and pilsner showdowns are all good and well, but a gueuze showdown is really hard to pull off. Since “sour beers” have been all the rage for the last ten years or so (at least from our limited perspective), it seemed natural to put on our big-boy pants and get to the real deal: gueuze-style beer and lambic.
As always, this showdown is by no means a definitive list or ranking. Many beers were left out of this showdown simply because we couldn’t get them. Gueuze is a tough style to nail for many breweries and blenderies, as is evident in this showdown. Making a great gueuze is tough, and they’re equally hard to acquire. We tried to get as many quality gueuze-style beers as we could find, so don’t get butt-hurt because we didn’t include your favorite.
It should also be noted that John was the proctor for this showdown. He served up the beers and participated in the ranking, but the final scores on this showdown do not take his scores into account, since he knew what the beers were upon evaluation.
Here are the beers that we sampled in the showdown, listed in the order they were served:
Beer #1 – Brouwerij Lindemans – Oude Gueuze Cuvée René
Beer #2 – Brouwerij Boon – Oude Geuze Boon Black Label
Beer #3 – Gueuzerie Tilquin – Oude Gueuze Tilquin à L’Ancienne
Beer #4 – Brewery John Martin & Brewery Timmermans – Timmermans Oude Gueuze
Beer #5 – Brasserie Cantillon – Gueuze 100% Lambic Bio
Beer #6 – Hanssens Artisanaal – Oude Gueuze
Beer #7 – The Bruery – Rueuze
Beer #8 – Brouwerij Boon – Oude Geuze
Beer #9 – Mikkeller – Hues
Beer #10 – Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen – Oude Geuze
Beer #11 – Brouwerij Girardin – Gueuze 1882 (Black Label)
Beer #12 – Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck – St. Louis Gueuze Fond Tradition
Beer #13 – The Lost Abbey – Duck Duck Gooze (2016)
Results and rankings:
#13 Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck – St. Louis Gueuze Fond Tradition
Average Score: 31.67
This is a gueuze that seems to be readily available in most mid to high-end bottle shops. For myself (John), it’s one of the first of the style that I got my hands on. Unfortunately, we thought this beer was the worst of the group, with very prominent notes of acetone.
#12 Mikkeller – Hues
Average Score: 40.67
This beer was weird. It was the darkest of the group. It came off with really big caramel notes, similar to something like an amber ale or stout, but it was also sour. While sour stouts and amber ales are totally a thing, this beer just came off, well, gross. Overall, it was an awkward experience for all but Greg, who gave it a 70 for some reason…
#11 Brasserie Cantillon – Gueuze 100% Lambic Bio
Average Score: 41.67
It goes without saying that it’s both surprising and disappointing that Cantillon ranked so low. The acetone notes were really distracting and the beer came off as very one-note. It also displayed acetic characteristics on the nose that John picked up. We truly think that this was either a bad bottle or bad batch because Cantillon usually never fails to deliver quality gueuze.
#10 Hanssens Artisanaal – Oude Gueuze
Average Score: 61.00
This is one of the more recognizable brands of gueuze that one can find. While Hanssens hit the target with this beer’s acidic notes, the solvent-like nose and lack of a funky backbone drove this beer to the bottom half of the list.
#9 Brewery John Martin & Brewery Timmermans – Timmermans Oude Gueuze
Average Score: 64.33
This beer was super-tart, and was described by Nagel as a “funky, Sour Warhead [candy]”. Notes of honey and soil were prominent, and while everyone else gave this beer lower scores, John really seemed to like it and gave it a 78.
#8 Gueuzerie Tilquin – Oude Gueuze Tilquin à L’Ancienne
Average Score: 70.67
For us, Tilquin Gueuze is one of the harder to find beers of the group. While the beer was fairly complex, displaying notes of hay, grass, funk, and oak, it was also a bit aggressive in those areas. Matt noted that it smelled like acetone, and Jason though it smelled like an old log. It brought the sour and funk, but the other aspects of the beer were too distracting.
#7 Brouwerij Boon – Oude Geuze Boon Black Label
Average Score: 73.00
Middle of the road. That’s what this beer is. While it was a bit watery and underwhelming, it wasn’t a total let down. Jason didn’t want to take points away for its subtleness, but in the end it just didn’t hit all the right notes.
#6 The Bruery – Rueuze
Average Score: 75.67
This beer was immediately pointed out as an American interpretation of gueuze. Notes of vanilla and oak were prominent. There was a lovely sour bite to it, with fruit and citrus notes backing it up. While it wasn’t necessarily true to the gueuze style, Rueuze stood out as a unique and ambitious beer that was both delicious and interesting.
#5 Brouwerij Lindemans – Oude Gueuze Cuvée René
Average Score: 80.00
This was the first beer served in the showdown, and that was on purpose. Lindemans gueuze is a great example of the style that is widely available, even at big box stores like Total Wine and More, and BevMo. The beer had an aggressive, funky nose and a nice tart acidic flavor to back it up. It ultimately lost points for being a bit skunked, but hey, it’s in a green bottle so, it’s to be expected. Overall, it’s a great example of the style and definitely worth picking up.
#4 Brouwerij Boon – Oude Geuze
Average Score: 85.33
Overall, this beer was great. Notes of sesame seed, and funky bread were prominent, and the flavor was bright and tart with a touch of tannin. A classic gueuze and again, well worth the buy.
#3 The Lost Abbey – Duck Duck Gooze (2016)
Average Score: 88.00
Duck Duck Gooze was the most pale in color of the group. Notes of fruit, hibiscus, and acidity were quite lovely on the nose, and the beer had a big fluffy head. The acidity on the palate was subdued and balanced. While we thought it may not be 100% true the style, it was definitely one of the best, even at $40+ per bottle.
#2 Brouwerij Girardin – Gueuze 1882 (Black Label)
Average Score: 90.33
Notes of cheese (yum), funk, and earthiness were prominent in Gueuze 1882. The beer had a nice clarity, a subtle funk backbone, and a pleasant, tart bite. It was an overall well balanced and delicious beer and its high ranking was not a surprise at all.
#1 Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen – Oude Geuze
Average Score: 93.33
3 Fonteinen ranking number one in the showdown came as no surprise to any of us. Matt constantly gushes over the quality lambic blends that this blendery produces, and Oude Geuze was no exception. This was a stellar beer. The grassy, barnyard notes were balanced with a refreshing sour-citrus flavor and funky base that was nothing short of spectacular. If you see this beer, buy it.
BREW THE SHIT OUT OF IT.
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