I Must Go Where the Wild Gueuze Goes!

Jim Lundstrom

In my perfect world, Cuvee Rene Grand Cru Gueuze Lambic Beer from Brouwerij Lindemans would run from taps instead of treated water – just for drinking, of course. I wouldn’t want to waste it on washing.

In its native Belgium, gueuze is known as “Brussels Champagne.” There is a very good reason for that, despite that fact that it comes in a corked champagne bottle. It has the effervescence of champagne.

The first thing you might notice when pulling the cork out of the bottle is a slightly earthy, funky aroma, and that is a good thing.

As I pour the beer into a snifter, a big-bubbled rocky head forms on top of a slightly cloudy golden liquid.

The first sip reveals a citrusy tart and brightly carbonated lambic. The sourness quotient is relatively mild compared to some other sour beers. Unlike most lambics that are flavored with fruit, gueuzes are blends of young (one-year-old) and old (two- to three-year-old) oak barrel-aged lambics. Lindemans says that in creating Cuvee Rene they use one-third lambic that is at least two years old and two-thirds that is at least one year old. Beer writer Michael Jackson referred to the gueuze style as “a marriage between youth and experience.”

Another difference between this and most other beers styles is that the hops are aged to reduce their bittering effect. While the hop character is not wanted in lambics, hops are still required as a preservative.

The other major difference is that wild yeast is used to ferment the beer, which gives it its distinctive dry flavor and the funky nose.

While Lindemans has won many awards for this beer, in 2013 the brewery also received recognition for its Art Nouveau label when the Cruvee Rene label was declared “Europe’s Best Label.”