The Scratch


The Children of the Sour Revolution

The time is ripe - the sour kids are getting their due.

Weirdo beer styles always seem to encourage loyal fanboys and fangirls. Nuclear levels of hops were dangerously piled into bottles in the US and have subsequently gone internationally viral. Now it seems the sour revolution which began in Belgium has finally arrived in Brisbane. It is time to pucker up!

More than just a mouth full of lemon warheads, the Belgian Gueuze is definitely the most complex and difficult of all the current sour beers being produced. Let me argue this with the appropriate credentials - a list – essentially, why is this idiosyncratic style so cultish?

One, it is geographical. Largely limited to its origin, Belgium, the home of the lambic gueuze; nowhere else seems to have been able to replicate it with the same success. Right now in 2013 one nation has as near to a monopoly on a beer style as any within the culture. When American styles control the craft beer market distribution (IPAs, Strong Ales, Dark Beers), brews like the Lambic get muscled away from most inexperienced beer drinkers.

Two, it is sour. Lemons and limes got nothing on this fella (yet it is also unbelievably citric). This is could be the sourest flavour you have ever experienced. It makes Warheads look like what they actually are; children’s candy. This brew is the real deal.

Three, and perhaps most importantly, it is altogether weird. Is it beer, or is it wine? It has some crazy funk going on in there that smells like a mixture of sweaty animal hair (yuck!) and a big Savignon Blanc. And yet, even for beer, if you’re a fan, it is a hellofalotta fun to drink, probably more so than any other beer variety.

Four, it can be complex to the point of being indecipherable. Give a decent gueuze to a room of drinkers and some common tasting notes should eventuate, but most will also uncover novelties obscured to others. This is a classic eye of the beholder brew.

And yet, of all beer styles, the Lambic (along with the extended sour family tree) is one of the most satisfying experiences to drink in our harsh Australian heat. We need more. The gueuze is the natural antidote to scorching summer days in Brisbane.

And with this in mind, I want to plug a recent acquisition to The Scatch’s bottled list – the Tilquin Gueuze a la Ancienne. Though not quite as complex as some others going round, this is the perfect introduction. It is a full bodied, rich example of the gueuze which brings a ripe sour slap across the cheeks. It doesn’t hurt quite as much as other lambics (you will pucker, but scarcely for as long), though this one feels like a refined example which doesn’t resort to dirty-below the belt-tactics.

-Nick Gauci

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Yarns 6th May