Beer break: Oud Beersel Oude Geuze Vieille


You can tell just by the name that this is not your typical beer. Personally, I don’t drink many geuzes. They are not my thing. In all of my beer drinking history, I’ve only come across one person who claimed geuzes were his favorite style of beer and, I must admit, it brought on a disbelieving squint, and the feeling that this guy probably couldn’t be trusted. Actually, he claimed that lambics were his favorite, but a geuze is just a lambic that has been kicked up a notch. It’s a mix of an old and a young lambic, then bottled and aged until the tart crispness is amped up beyond all decency. It is either a beer for people that don’t like beer, or are desperate for a change of pace. But, if you’re going to have one, then have a good one, and Oud Beersel’s version is among the best.

Oud Beersel Oude Geuze VieilleGeuze is about as close as a beer can get to champagne. It looks very similar, in color and the tiny bubbled head. The aroma is a bit more earthy and wild, but the apples and lemons keep it in that ballpark. This is not going to be a dinner beer. You might sip on one when the fancy finger foods come around, or maybe after a meal; essentially serving the same function, again, as champagne. But, and I say this as an ardent beer lover, if champagne is what you want, why not just have that?

The flavor is not subtle. There is not a single stray hop to be found in this beverage. It is intensely tart. It’s like a sour apple cider with a whole lemon chucked in – peel, pulp, juice and all. Not bad, really – just not beer, really, either. Refreshing, and palate cleansing are the standout features for me. It is crisp and light, and the 6% alcohol surely is a non-issue, because nobody, other than that one shady character, is ever going to be having more than a glass or two of these things.

These are beers that not only can be, but are encouraged to be cellared for extended periods. I’m not sure if this aging helps it or not, but it does give you time to drink plenty of other beers in the meantime. I can’t help imagining there must have been some whiney Belgian monk back in the day that just didn’t like beer and wanted to be a champagne maker instead, so the others let him get on with it just to keep him out of their hair, and this is what he came up with. If you happen to be such a hardcore beer drinker that you adamantly refuse to toast even the New Year with any grape based product, there’s nothing more suitable than a good geuze to do the trick. Otherwise, it’s a beer to reset the taste calibrations every once in a great while, when actual beer-type beers start getting tiresome.

By Mike Barkacs


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