My 4 year guezue project

Discussion in 'General Recipe Discussion' started by strange-steve, Aug 10, 2017.

  1. Aug 10, 2017 #1

    strange-steve

    strange-steve

    strange-steve

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    This is something I started in April '15, and it's currently about halfway through so I thought I'd post my progress so far.

    For those who don't know, a gueuze (or geuze) is a blended lambic, typically a blend of 1, 2 & 3 year old lambics. It then undergoes secondary fermentation in the bottle, and you end up with a dry, sour, fruity, spritzy beer which is sometimes called a Belgian champagne. This is definitely not for a sour beer virgin, it's not an entry level sour, and is certainly something of an acquired taste, but it is unlike any other style and in my opinion, a good example of a gueuze is one of the finest beers in the world.

    I've been lucky enough to visit the Cantillon brewery in Brussels a couple of times, who are world famous for their sour beers, and their gueuze is fantastic, so I had to have a go myself.

    The plan was, once a year, for 3 years, to brew a 20L batch of lambic, age it for 1 year, bottle half for a straight lambic and keep aging the other half in demi johns. After 3 years I would have 10L each of 1, 2 and 3 year old lambics which I could then blend, bottle and age for a further year. So a beer 4 years in the making.

    As of now, batch one is 28 months old and batch two is 15 months old. I'm a little behind schedule though because I haven't made batch three yet, but I'll hopefully get that done soon.

    I have kept the recipe nice and simple, and apart from some very minor adjustments, all 3 batches are the same:

    Recipe Specs
    ----------------
    Batch Size (L): 20
    Total Grain (kg): 5.8
    Total Hops (g): 50
    Original Gravity (OG): 1.070
    Final Gravity (FG): 1.009
    Alcohol by Volume (ABV): 8.0 %
    Colour (SRM): 3.5
    Bitterness (IBU): 6 (Average)
    Brewhouse Efficiency (%): 79
    Boil Time (Minutes): 120

    Grain Bill
    ----------------
    3.200 kg Pilsner
    2.500 kg Flaked Wheat
    0.100 kg Lactose

    Hop Bill
    ----------------
    50.0 g Aged Cluster Leaf @ 120 Minutes (Boil)

    Notes
    ----------------
    Mash in at 45°c for 15 mins
    15 min rest at 50°c
    45 min rest at 65°c
    30 min rest at 70°c

    Fermented at 20°C with Wyeast 3278 - Belgian Lambic Blend

    So as mentioned, half of batch one was bottled to be a straight lambic, however it is still quite (actually very!) harsh, even after more than a year in the bottle. I believe the reason is that I used too much hops. Even though the hops were a good 3 years old, stored in paper bags and so supposedly debittered, I think they imparted a lot more bitterness than expected. Bitterness and sourness don't go too well together, but hopefully a bit more aging will smooth it out.

    As for batch two, rather than bottle the other half, I decided to chuck some cherries into to make a kriek. I managed to get 1.5kg of cherries for cheap, so I froze them, then pasteurised them and added them to he fv the other day. No idea how that'll turn out, or any of this to be honest, but I enjoy a bit of experimentation.

    A few pics I took last week:

    This is how batch two looked in the primary, before I racked to demijohns and added cherries, quite disgusting really.
    [​IMG]

    This is the cherries after pasteurisation, they smelled fantastic!
    [​IMG]

    This is batch one on the right and two on the left, for comparison. As you see time clears all.
    [​IMG]
     
  2. Aug 10, 2017 #2

    Leon103

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    Fair play. Hope it all turns out well.
     
  3. Aug 10, 2017 #3

    dad_of_jon

    dad_of_jon

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    best wishes for success :thumb: I love gueuze / sours although my first was a boon oude gueuze. I've had quite a few including hansens, but for me it's got to be boon.

    I wish I had your drive as I'm at the point where I love them but have accepted i'm not ever going to get anywhere close to their beers. I know i can do dark strong beer that gets better over a year or so with the best of them , but sours are beyond my capabilities.

    my king kong is now 11 months old and that's long enough, aging for up to 3 years is not an option for me :-(

    if you do ever want to swap a lambic / guezue with the polar opposite let me know! :twisted:
     
  4. Aug 11, 2017 #4

    strange-steve

    strange-steve

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    I haven't had Boon Oude Gueuze, but I had the Boon Marriage Parfait which was fantastic, though my personal favourite is Girardin 1882 Black label, absolutely delicious.

    I'll certainly keep you in mind for a swap if I end up with something drinkable :thumb:
     
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  5. Aug 11, 2017 #5

    Brew_DD2

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    Cantillon is fantastic and an absolutely must of a pilgrimage for gueuze lovers.

    This is a great project.
     
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  6. Aug 11, 2017 #6

    IainM

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    Wow. I'm rooting for you Steve! Hopefully it will be worth the effort. A good Gueze is a truly a thing to behold. When I lived in Spain we used to go to walk down to a tiny Belgian bar called Maison Belge after work maybe three times a week. The owner was very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the beers of his home country, and was very attentive to the way his beers were served. This was never more true than when we ordered a large bottle of Cantillon Gueze for the table. His eyes lit up, and asked if we'd tried Brussels Champagne before. We hadn't, but could pick up the excitement in his voice and he fetched and polished the right glasses while explaining the production process. He cradled the bottle, poured it as if he was handling a new born, then stepped back to study our faces as we brought the glasses to our lips. This is a very ambitious beer you're brewing!
     
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  7. Aug 11, 2017 #7

    strange-steve

    strange-steve

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    Gueuze is a really special thing, and it always saddens me a little when I hear people say they don't like sour beers. I think it's because they haven't tasted the right beer, and unfortunately the great Belgian gueuzes are difficult to find here. I've tasted sours from Wild Beer Co and Siren, and while they are ok, they certainly don't knock your socks off.
    What's that quote about man's reach exceeding his grasp? Certainly applies here :?
     
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  8. Aug 11, 2017 #8

    Sadfield

    Sadfield

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    I have maximum respect for this uptaking. Hope your commitment is rewarded.

    Could the harshness be a result of the mash, I've read that turbid mash can extract quite a few tannins?

    Also, I notice you are fermenting in glass, did you add any oak to these?

    I'm a big fan of Girardin also, and am finding that more and more places are stocking Gueuze these days. Going to be picking some De Cam up from a friends shop this weekend.

    There are a couple of British brewers starting this journey, so soon there may be a British lambic scene. Burning Sky and Mills Brewing look promising.

    Sent from my E5823 using Tapatalk
     
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  9. Aug 11, 2017 #9

    strange-steve

    strange-steve

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    Although I looked into turbid mashing I didn't bother doing it in the end, I just did a simpler stepped mash although using similar temperature rests to a turbid mash. I also skipped the extra hot sparge which is often used, so I don't think it's a tannin issue, although it could be.

    I hope you're right re British lambics, it would be great to see more on shelves in the bottle shops.
     
  10. Aug 12, 2017 #10

    Martybhoy1980

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    I once bought a bottle of Thornbridge's Love Among The Ruins. Desperately wanted to like it, but just wasn't for me.

    But kudos for doing what your doing. It does look fascinating.
     
  11. Aug 12, 2017 #11

    Honk

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    Good luck with the project and I hope it turns out great. I visited the Cantillion brewery earlier this year after reading about it on this forum and we visited not knowing if sour beers would be to our taste or not having never tried them before. Luckily we liked it and enjoyed the visit. Fascinating place.
    My wife has grown fond of kreik so I may try making a batch.
     
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  12. Aug 12, 2017 #12

    Zephyr259

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    Recently there's been a trend of whenever I get an idea about something someone else posts up (or has recently posted) about the same thing.

    This is an awesome project Steve! Best of luck with it. I've just read through Wild Brews and will be getting a copy of American Sour Beers, the original idea was to brew a Flanders Red to start with but all the lambic/guezue sections sounded really interesting a tasty. Lambic beers (often with fruit) are what got me into drinking beer in the first place so I'd love to give this a go too.

    Where did you get your aged hops? Aging them myself sounds tricky as it adds another bunch of years to the process and they'd probably end up going off...
     
  13. Aug 12, 2017 #13

    dad_of_jon

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    Im going to brugge in october and i will be making a little detour on the way home to vanuxeem to literally get a shedful. The mariage parfait is a little stronger than the boon and a bit more refined than the oude gueze. But then I like the lip puckering slap in the face you get :grin:
     
  14. Aug 12, 2017 #14

    strange-steve

    strange-steve

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    @zephyr259 Thanks mate, i think the trick is to brew often so that you don't get too impatient waiting on this. I have probably about half a kilo of aged hops if you ever need any, just let me know and I'll send you a bag.
     
  15. Aug 12, 2017 #15

    dad_of_jon

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