For those unfamiliar, gueuze is a blend of young and old spontaneously fermented lambic beer which is then bottle fermented. Gueuze tends to be given to a sour or tart flavor profile, and seems a bit more like a wine than a beer. Lambics and gueuzes are admittedly styles that are an acquired taste. And I am still very much in the acquiring stages so my evaluations of such beers may be skewed given my lack of familiarity.
Drie Fonteinen Doesjel (bottle 6% ABV)- Gueuze- Brouwerij Drie Fonteinen, BEL
Drie Fonteinen pours a slightly murky amber-tinged gold with very little carbonation. There’s a full, but not overpowering barnyard funk in the nose, which is interesting and not unpleasant: twang of wet hay with some light hints of fruit and something vaguely musky. A coppery metallic edge comes to the scent that is not so nice and hinting at vinegar. A warning of what lies ahead perhaps?
The taste runs along similar lines. At first there’s a quick fruitiness at the tip of the tongue; a hint of green apple. It disappears briefly into a nice tang and all too quickly slides to acidity that is similar to cider vinegar. At points I want to say there’s a smokiness to the flavor, but then often times it seems more acrid, burning rubber than smokey. In a very short time Drie Fonteinen goes from something different and interesting to something I never want to drink again.
On the up side the mouthfeel is good. It’s not thin and not thick covering the tongue quite well. It’s just a shame that the taste it’s conveying the tongue with is less than good. It was a struggle to finish the small bottle, so I have no choice but to view the drinkability as very low. It wasn’t a drain pour so I can’t rate it that low, but still after the first quarter it was a chore to drink.
I’ll be honest I haven’t had tons of experience with lambics and gueuzes, but I’ve had enough that I know that this is some rough stuff even for a gueuze. When the guy at the store referred to Drie Fonteinen as “intense” I didn’t expect that to mean sour to the point of being almost undrinkable. Maybe I just don’t have the palate for it. If you a sour fiend then maybe this would be right up your alley.
(Purchased 10/17: Federal Wine & Spirits $6.99, 37.5cl bottle)
Nøgne Ø Brown Ale (4.5% ABV bottle)- English Brown Ale- Nøgne Ø-det kompromissløse bryggeri, NOR
Grade: A- BREW OF THE BLOG!
Poured from a bomber into Siamsa Pub pint glass. [Truth be told this is more like a mini-bomber given it’s 50cl/16.9 oz size, but who’s counting.]
Way darker brown than your average brown ale; almost black really. A half inch tan head from initial pour thins to barely a covering. Add to that fairly large bubbles from the carbonation and at first glance you could mistake this for a glass of Coke. There’s a nice earthy aroma with a hint of cocoa to it. It’s so enticing it makes up for the general cola appearance which may dissuade some folk. The overall body is a bit on the thin side and the carbonation is somewhat sharp, but neither of these factors are enough to really diminish the experience. The taste is full of gorgeous malt offering up bittersweet chocolate and some nice roasty, nutty notes. There is only a hint of hop bitterness at the end that cuts the sweet malt from getting to be too much.
Nøgne Ø has kept things interesting yet simple with their English Brown Ale. There are a lot more flavors going on in here than what you tend to expect from a brown ale, but at the same time they are very controlled and never come over the top. This beer helps to dispel the idea that to be flavorful or complex a beer needs to be a double this, imperial that, or an alcohol bomb. At 4.5% ABV it’s ridiculously tasty and drinkable for the long haul; exactly what a session beer should be. A great little beer that is not trying to be in your face in any respect, but it should be in your fridge and preferably in your belly. Highly recommended as it is my current favorite go-to beer.
If you are looking for it in Boston I’ve been getting my supply from Federal Wine & Spirits down on State Street, caddy-corner to the T stop. I love this tiny little place. It’s best known for its wine cellar and ridiculous array of scotch, but it also has a small yet fantastic selection of beers. Even though their website doesn’t mention beer they’ve got special/seasonal releases, big bottles, craft sixers, and some harder to get imports. Best of all their prices tend to be just a bit cheaper than most other downtown liquor stores.