Educational article: The Champagne of Belgium + Review of Cantillion Gueuze

By hopskullbeerguide
August 20, 2019
Wanna know a little about the beer style which goes under the nicknames “The Champagne of Belgium” /

“Brussels champagne”? Well let's just dive into it!

Way back in the 19th century - or so the legend goes, a brewer from Brussels which brewed Lambic, ran out of barrels just as a big shipment came due. As a trick to make sure his beer would be ready for shipment to the client, the brewer poured his Lambics into empty champagne bottles.
Wait a minute! What is a Lambic? I’ll quickly get you fill in!

Lambic is the name of a Belgian beer produced by spontaneous fermentation.

Lambic is produced in a very limited geographical area, Payottenland in Zennedalen near Brussels, as there is the right composition of microorganisms in the air.

Instead of adding yeast to start the fermentation, the wort is cooled overnight in a shallow, flat metal pan called a coolship. In this way The wort is being exposed to airborne yeasts and bacteria, that fall into the vessels, and fermentation begins.

The fermentation of Lambic is only started from mid October to mid May, where the average temperature in the area is approx. 15 degrees Celsius. In the summer, there are too many unwanted bacteria in the air.

Lambic has a crisp, sour taste and an acidic scent. Dry, and vinous taste.

Lambic is often Serving as a base for different beers, Kriek, fruit Lambics and of cause “The Champagne of Belgium”

OK now you know what Lambic is, let’s get back on track!

Remember The story about The lambic brewer who poured his lambics into empty champagne bottles? A time went by, The brewers name was apparently lost to history - but the Brewery location was not - Geuzenstraat / Geuzen Street (rue des Gueux) Which also gave inspiration when it came to giving the new style a name - The “Gueuze” was born.

Let me just give you a quick rundown/summary of what a Gueuze is today.

Gueuze is a type of Lambic. It is made by blending (gestoken in Flemish) 60 % young (1-year-old), 30 % (2 -year-old) and lastly 10 % ( 3-year-old) Lambics, which is bottled for a second fermentation.

Because the young Lambics are not fully fermented, the blended beer contains fermentable sugars, which then allows a second fermentation to occur.

Older Lambic brings more Brettonomyces (Wild yeast) and complexity while Gueuze blended with more young Lambic will often be softer in character.

There you have it, the champagne of Belgium - Gueuze!

To end this article, I’ve made a Review on a very special bottle of Gueuze. It’s fairly easy to acquire, but non The less -very good! Cheers, and on to The Review

The beer!

Cantillon: Gueuze 100 % Lambic Bio (2018)

Is a 5,5 % ABV, 30 IBU, Lambic - Gueuze. A blend of one, two, and three year old Lambics. After blending the bottles are positioned horizontally in a cellar and left to rest for an average of one year, this being the time required for the conversion of the sugars into carbon dioxide (secondary fermentation in the bottle). The one I drank was a 2018 vintage bottle.

The Review



Taste: 100/100

Total overall points: 300 / 3 = 100 points.

The color is a hazy golden / orange. It pours a small white head, it falls to a thin lacing.

The Aroma is FUNKY with a great citrus character! The aroma is acidic and tart, with mild Woody note. It also has notes of green apples, pears and some citrus fruits.

The taste is a perfect balance between sweetness and sourness. It has a nice tart green apple and sweet pear taste, which goes great up against The funky acidic barnyard’ish and cellar flavor. There also is a slight woody note to it. Very complex!

The finish is a quick ending dry’ness with, it has a low bitterness, It has a low to medium carbonation, with a light to medium mouthfeel/body

This beer was fantastic! Simply one of the best gueuze there is. It is balanced - on point with The sweetness and sourness, and has enough depth for you to explore! I know I gave it a hundred points, but this beer fully deserves it!

A few last things I would like to say, before I wrap things up. You shall always remember, that every bottle of Gueuze holds its own surprises - because of the spontaneous fermentation. A Gueuze like this is great for aging. The blends will evolve even further in the bottle over years, even decades — breweries such as Cantillon recommend aging their Gueuze for as long as 20 years.

That's all folks, hope you enjoyed the article and Review! Till next time - and in the teantime, go grab a bottle of Gueuze and go ahead, sniff that bouquet! It’s amazing.

HopSkull Out.