Conflicted wine-o recommends a beer for Champagne lovers?
Thanks for checking back in with Todd, your friendly Kahn's wine guru. I know it's fairly early to say something like this, but I feel like I'm being wooed, nay lured, by what I used to call the inferior beverage: beer. If you are a fellow wine-o and have felt a recent disturbance in the wine force, it's probably my fault. Call me Darth Vader if you want, but I haven't gone over to the dark side just yet... In my defense though, I tend to gravitate towards beers that are vinous, and my favorite beer country, Belgium, borders two of the most powerhouse wine countries in the world: France and Germany. Click here to see a map. Just so you know, I'm not going to nerd out too much about all of this, but Champagne and one of my favorite Belgian beer styles, Gueuze, aren't too terribly different. Gueuze looks like a funny word that would be pronounced incorrectly by most people, right? Click here and pick the Flemish choice to see how Gueuze is really pronounced. Gueuze is essentially a blend of young and old lambic beers; lambics are ales that are spontaneously fermented. Spontaneously fermented you say? Sounds like a lot of clever beer magic and hullabaloo to me, but It refers to the fact that Belgian brewers let the yeasts and bacteria (yes, bacteria) that are present in the air naturally ferment the wort....Yet another fancy word...darn it. Wort is the liquid that contains the sugars that will be fermented into alcohol. Gueuze and Champagne are similar because both undergo a second fermentation IN THE BOTTLE. Gueuze undergoes the second fermentation in the bottle because it is a blend of old and young lambics. As it turns out, the young lambics have not completed their fermentation process, so when a Gueuze is bottled, the yeast continues to convert the fermentable sugars into alcohol and CO2. Since CO2 cannot escape because the bottle is capped, the beer becomes carbonated...just like Champagne.
Anyway, let's talk about some actual booze...Behold, the beer for Champagne drinkers the Oud Beersel Gueuze...
Conflictedwineo Rating: A Pours beautifully from the bottle with lots of head. Beautiful amber/gold/orange color. Make sure to put your nose into it, I mean really get in there and you will understand the essence of Gueuze...sourness, but not oh, my word I just ate an entire lemon sourness, just sourness. It's there and it holds the rest of the ale together. The Oud Beersel is not a beer for hopheads, but you do pick up a faint hop aroma on the nose that is delivered on the palate. This particular bottle had a subtle tartness which, I am told increases with age. I would have liked it to be more tart, but it certainly delivered a subtle, funky, interesting aroma that is common for gueuze. Wine lovers, there are simply few beers that are as vinous as lambics and gueuze. If you're thinking of getting into beer but have been a wine drinker for years, then try these beer styles. You will not regret it.
Plus...the biggest bonus of all: price. The Oud Beersel Gueuze will set you back about $16.99, and while this is certainly more than the average beer, it is way less expensive than even an entry level Champagne which generally starts at $39.99. Thus, Gueuze offers an outstanding value. In fact, it sounds so good that I'm getting thirsty for one right now...if only I weren't at work! I will tell you though...next time I'm feeling the need for some bubbly, I'm going to think twice before dropping $40 on a Champagne. Plus I already have another Oud Beersel waiting for me in my fridge at home.