What is a Gueuze?
A guide to one of the most complex beers ever brewed.
Written by Caroline Southern
Image by Kinsley Stocum
To define gueuze, one must first define a lambic. To be considered lambic, a beer must be fermented through exposure to the wild yeasts and bacteria of Belgium’s Zenne Valley, in a process called spontaneous fermentation. (Technically any “gueuze” made of lambics brewed in America is an American wild ales, just as American’s call their version of champagne “sparkling white wine”.) A lambic typically has a distinct cider-y dryness and sour flavor.
Our Favorite Gueuze Glass:
From our friends at Monkish Brewery: our favorite way to drink any gueuze, lambic or American wild ale.
Gueuze, also known as “Brussels Champagne” because of its effervescence and traditional Champagne bottle presentation, is made by combining a young lambic (about one year old) with an older lambic (about two to three years old). After two to three more years of further conditioning, the brew is finally ready for consumption. Typically fruitier and dryer than most other lambics, gueuze has a minimal hop character and an intense effervescence. Many aficionados and collectors treasure this beer for the complexity and depth of flavors that result from the spontaneous fermentation, with beers from the Cantillon Brewery in Brussels commanding extremely high values on secondary trading markets.
Not to be confused with gose (a tart German beer), gueuze is pronounced like you’re saying the word “goose,” but with an emphatic “ew” in the middle and flat drawn out “zzz” at the end. Make sure you practice it a few times before whipping it out in casual pub conversation.