Sunday, September 11, 2011

Beer style of the week; Gueze/Oud Brown and Flanders Red/American Wild Ale (Sour Funky Ales)

Week 32

Here are a group of beer styles that are growing in popularity by the day. Brewers are pumping out a wide variety of sour, funky or tart ales. Beer Advocate even has an entire evening dedicated to ales that will make you wince, squint and pucker, with their Belgian Beer Fest’s “Night of the Funk”.

Gueze is a complex beer style created in Belgium. Young and old Lambic (unpasteurized part wheat, wild yeast and brewed in bacteria inoculated barrels) are blended together then aged for up to two years. Other ales that fall into the Gueze-like (sour/tart) profile are Flanders Red, Oud Brown and American Wild Ale.

The ABV of these ales are all over the place. Expect anywhere from between 3% - 8.5% ABV.

The flavors in each are tart, acidic and/or sour tasting. Descriptions of the flavors range from vinegar cider, tart white wine, green apples, funk, acidic acid and bile-like. The smells range from musty basement, to rotting citrus, to sweaty gym socks soaked in vinegar, to rancid wine.

Funky Beer Lover: “Sounds good, huh?”

Me: “Not really!”

Funky Beer Lover: “Give it time, it’s an acquired taste.”

Me: “Go squeeze some old gym socks soaked in vinegar into a glass and gulp it down. Let me know when you’ve “acquired” the taste”

Sorry, I just don’t like them! Well, only most of them…the really sour and/or tart ones can be used to lure desperate slugs away from my garden. Gueze, in case you’re still wondering sort of rhymes with, ooze-eh and shoes-eh. Really old oozing shoes-eh!

There are a few Flanders Reds and Browns that actually have some basic, recognizable beer characteristics that can be safely swallowed without an instantaneous eruption of acid reflux. Those are possible to acquire a taste for. I’ve tried throughout my rating beer experience to keep in mind that certain beer styles are purposely brewed with a distinct result in mind, and for that reason it’s difficult for me to rate beers that I simply don’t care for. How can anyone give a poor rating to a beer that captures the style characteristics to perfection? See:

Here are some of the top rated Geueze, Flanders Red and Brown and American Wild Ales

From the land of origin

Cantillon Gueuze 100% Lambic – Brasserie Cantillon – Brussels, Belgium – 5% ABV

“A” Rating on BeerAdvocate

Oude Geuze De Cam - De Cam Geuzestekerij – Gooik, Belgium – 5.5% ABV

“A” Rating on Beer Advocate

Goudenband Flanders Oud Brune - Brouwerij Liefmans – Oudenaard, Belgium – 8% ABV

“A-“ Rating on BA

Rodenbach Grande Cru Flanders Red – Brouwerji Rodenbach – Roeselare, Belgium – 6% ABV

“A-“ Rating on BA

American Wild Ale

New England

Allagash Interlude – Allagash Brewing – Portland, Maine – 9.5% ABV

“A-“ Rating on BA

Samuel Adams Stony Brook Red – Samuel Adams – Boston, MA – 9% ABV

“B+” Rating on BA

Monomoy Kriek – Cisco Brewing – Nantucket, MA – 6.7% ABV

“A-“ Rating on BA

There you have a sampling of the Funky styles that get high marks from many who like that sort of beer. Please don’t let my opinions on this or any style influence your decisions. Try it! If you like it, great! If you don’t, you can’t say you weren’t warned.

Next week, finally, Autumn Ales, followed by Oktoberfest, then Fall Beers.

Cheers and Salut!

Quote: “"An I must drink sour ale, I must, but never have I yielded to a man before, and that without would or mark upon my body. Nor, when I bethink me, will I yield now." – Howard Pyle – The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood

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