Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Drie Fonteinen - Oude Geuze Review

Drie Fonteinen Oude Geuze

Brewery: Drie Fonteinen (BEL)
Style: Geuze
ABV: 6%
Grade: A

When comparing one (straight) lambic or geuze to another, normal beer adjectives can lose their usefulness. A mere list of broad descriptions make it sound as if the style has no variation. And, in fact, recipe is much less important when it comes to geuze or lambic than other styles. Generally, these beers are brewed with a simple grain bill and then aged in oak, where a variety of yeast and bacteria go to town on them. These house cultures help to create the unique flavor from one brewery to the next, but the real trick probably comes down to blending — an imprecise science, or a form of high art.

And that is the most direct way to explain the perfection of Drie Fonteinen's Oude Geuze, in my opinion. My description of it will contain few surprises for you, if you've had a beer of this sort before: an aroma of funk and sour apple, oak and acidity. It hits your tongue with a bright tart sourness, soft oak, ripe green apple, vanilla, funky fruit, wheat, grass and hay. The puckering mouthfeel is clean for the style, though the oak lingers, and the sourness leaves that ripe, succulent impression in your mouth, unsubtley coercing you to drink more, to savor what sweet fruit flavors you can parse out of the acidic bite. 

Certainly, I could write almost the same paragraph about most good, pale sour beers. But as I said, Drie Fronteinen's main achievement is balance: perfect levels of funk, approachable-yet-undiminished levels of acidity, and just the right amount of pucker at the end. The oak, fruit and funk work in harmony, each adding to the other. The mouthfeel is surprisingly smooth and velvety for a sour, maybe even a bit minerally, with vibrant carbonation and a nice bite, without getting 'sharp.'

Who knows what aging this another year or two would do — maybe I drank this at the right time; maybe more time would favor one or two flavors over others. But right now, Drie Fonteinen's Oude Geuze captures exactly what I want a sour to be.

Availability: Not quite as hard to find as Cantillon, but still requires a bit of a treasure hunt. 750 ml bottle.

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