The vast majority of people are perfectly happy with lagers and, to a lesser extent, ales, and consequently never bother tasting anything else. I find this somewhat sad, as sour beers can be much more complex than your typical lager, and I enjoy them immensely. This week I grabbed a Gueuze, which is a blended sour beer from Lindemans.
Lindemans Brewery is a family-owned brewery in Vlezenbeek, Belgium. The brewery opened in 1811 under Frans Lindemans. The business was successful enough that in 1930 the adjoining family farm was shut down, and the family has continued to expand its offerings and distribution throughout the 20th century. Lindemans was the first brewery to import lambic into the United States, starting in 1979. The brewery was expanded to meet demand in 2003 and again in 2007.
Lambics are a style of beer from Brussels and the nearby Pajottenland region. These beers are neither a traditional ale nor lager made using cultured yeast. They belong to a third class – spontaneously fermented beers. These beers are fermented using natural yeasts and bacteria, which blow into the open fermenters, yielding a sour beer with a unique taste to each batch. These beers can be consumed straight, blended and carbonated (called a Gueuze), or blended with fruit. One of the reasons non-beer people tend to like this style is that it lacks the characteristic bitterness of many lager styles. While substantial amounts of hops are added to the beer, they are generally aged first to remove much of their bitter oils. This aging process prevents the beer from becoming overly bitter while maintaining the antimicrobial properties of the hops, but it tends to lend a cheesy character instead.
The beer poured a slightly hazy yellow gold with a lighter hue than I expected. I expected more of a deep, almost amber gold for some reason. The head formed as a single finger of pure white foam, which stuck around longer than I expected for this style but still not all that long. The aroma was moderately strong and very complex. Cranberry, orange and lemon were evident, along with a sweet and sour character. The body was actually fairly thick, which is odd for this style. Sour beers are usually much thinner in my experience. The carbonation was pretty low overall but with a sharp, sparkly character that manifested surprisingly late after the sip. The taste was fairly sweet, with a sourness that hit quickly before fading away. The finish was quite citrusy, with both grapefruit and a lemon character. One of the interesting characteristics of this beer is that the sourness increases substantially as it warms up.
I enjoyed this beer, even though it’s not the best I’ve ever had. I’ve heard this beer described as “the General Tso’s chicken of lambics,” which I think fits it well given its market position as the most readily available lambic. Don’t get me wrong, though — this is a good beer, and I thoroughly recommend trying it when you get a chance.
Size: 750 mL
ABV: 5.00 percent