This is a blend of 1, 2, and 3 year old lambics. In the past Drie Fonteinen have used lambics from Boon, Lindemans, and Girardin. It comes in a wire corked green bottle. This undergoes fermentation in the bottle, and as soon as I twisted the wire the cork popped right off and a bit of beer spilled out.
Beer pours a deep, hazy peach. Massive snowy head balloons to the top. Thick, sticky lacings to the finish.
I like to describe gueuze as a combination of cider and Champagne. This is particularly fitting for the aroma. A big hit of sour Granny Smith's with a touch of crisp Champagne grapes lingering just behind. Finally, and most importantly, there's a hint of barnyard funk. To me, this makes lambics lambics. It's a wild, natural aroma that suggests a barn after heavy rain. I don't want to get too pretentious, but if you've been exposed to a lot of Belgian beers, or even farmhouse ciders, you'll know what I'm talking about.
Sour. Sour, sour, sour. That's the defining characteristic of these beers. You'll immediately pick up lemon juice and sour apple on the middle of the tongue while the lively carbonation plays on the tip. There's the tiniest bit of sweet malt. Incredibly dry all the way through, like a German white wine, or vintage Champagne. The finish is all barnyard flavours from the wild yeast, but you also get a taste of earth and vanilla from the oak that the lambics are aged in.
As I already said, carbonation is what makes a gueuze a gueuze. The second fermentation brings the lambics to life and lets the flavours explode in the mouth. The sourness is puckering at first, but you need to dig in and get to the base flavours.
Gueuze is an experience. If you ever have the opportunity to drink it, don't spit it out after the first sip. Consider the fact you're drinking something that's alive. Consider the ageing in the finest French oak. Consider the natural yeast strains at work to create hundreds of flavours. Consider the centuries of expertise passed from father to son in the art of lambic blending.
In all honesty, I didn't appreciate my first gueuze, only a short while ago. This is only the third bottle I have ever had the pleasure of trying, yet it's already growing on me. The first bottle I had, I mixed with Faro (a sweetened lambic for Belgian schoolchildren), the second I finished, but didn't really enjoy, but this time I think I finally got it. Truely one of the more special experiences in the world of food and drink.