Gueuze, Lambics, names that can sound a bit rough for the unenlightened, but yet are part of the magical world of spontaneous fermentation beers. A tradition which finds its origins in Brussels, in the heart of Belgium. Acid beers, with a rarely complex aromatic, one of many parallels with the world of natural wines.
Water, malted barley, yeast and hops, four ingredients to craft one of the world's most ancient drinks. Today beer has spread to the four corners of the world, but it's in Belgium, around Brussels that the origins of specialty beer can be traced back to. The tradition of lambic, a spontaneously fermented beer aged in barrels, has been around for a few centuries, a style that has been brought to the forefront in recent decades by names such as Cantillon, Tilquin, Girardin or Drie Fonteinen. For the amateurs of natural wines, the similarities are all found, acid freshness, artisanal process, origin of the ingredients, ancestral practices, respect of the tradition and a rich, complex and striking aromatic palette. Gueuze, a blend of several young and old lambics, then re-fermented in the bottle, earning it the nickname Champagne of beer, is one of the most common styles, sometimes flavored with Kriek cherries or Raspberries. Well preserved, these beers can be enjoyed many years later...
Like the world of natural wine, the world of beer has become more dynamic in recent years, and younger brewers have joined the ranks of the older ones, Tom Jacobcs of Antidoot in Belgium, or A-Tue-Tête in Switzerland are among these names to watch closely.
Closer to home, on the Geneva border, Christophe Grellier of the Brasserie des Voirons has specialized in flavored beers, sometimes brewed on the lees in the barrels of winegrower friends, Manu Lassaigne or Jean-François Ganevat just to name a couple, sometimes mixed with plants, fruits or roots. A real delight!