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Méthode Gueuze: Made In America

A new wave of neo-traditionalist brewers is paying homage to a crucial brewing tradition by creating language descriptive of the process, not the product. Witness now, the birth of “méthode gueuze.”

Emily Hutto Oct 24, 2017 - 18 min read

Méthode Gueuze: Made In America Primary Image

“A lot of beer nerds who go to Belgium and visit Brasserie Cantillon come away moved by the magic of the place,” says Jester King Brewery (Austin, Texas) Founder Jeffrey Stuffings. “The ancient building, the ancient technique … I was awestruck.”

That ancient technique is spontaneous fermentation—cultivating conditions in which airborne microorganisms ferment wort, creating complex beer over time, often several years. These spontaneously fermented beers coming out of Brussels, Belgium, are called lambics, and much like champagne or tequila, they are specific to their region.

In the book Wild Brews, Beer Beyond the Influence of Brewer’s Yeast, author Jeff Sparrow dives into a question that’s being asked more and more in the United States: Does a lambic have to be brewed in or around Brussels? “The answer,” he writes in the first chapter, “depends on the definition. A lambic is a spontaneously fermented beer produced with unmalted wheat and aged in wood.” Lambic beers were traditionally created via turbid mashing and hopped with aged hops, as well. One well-known style of lambic beer is gueuze, a blend of young—usually one-year-old—and old—two- to three-year-old—lambics that are then bottled for secondary fermentation. Sparrow points out that because of production costs and uncertain results, most brewers in the twenty-first century haven’t attempted these beer styles.

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