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Posts Tagged ‘belgian beer’

There is something that my readers should probably know about me.

I am obsessed with Ohio State Football.

ohio-state1Born and raised by an obsessive Ohio State alumni father, I was destined to become a Buckeye. And Buckeye I have become. I graduated in the Spring of 2005 with 2 bachelor degrees and varsity letters in 2 different sports.

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Not only do I eat, sleep and breathe Ohio State … I also bleed scarlet and gray. (In fact, while at Ohio State I literally bled, sweat and cried for the school!)

ohio_state_universityTonight, The Ohio State University will be playing in the Fiesta Bowl against The University of Texas. We have matched up against Texas a few times in the past couple of years … and each time has been a good game. Texas is a solid team and worthy opponent.

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In honor of the Fiesta Bowl, I think it only appropriate to drink my favorite style of beer. What could be better than pairing two of my greatest loves and obsessions?

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Ohio State Football meets Lambic … a match made in heaven!

The Lambic of choice for this evening is Cantillon Gueuze. To me, gueuze is the Champagne of beers. As a matter of fact, I often drink gueuze in lieu of sparkling wine for many celebratory occasions.

Those who have read my post entitled “My Obsession With Wild Beers” are aware that Lambics are my favorite style of beer … with gueuze being my favorite style of Lambic. Although I have yet to visit a Lambic brewery, the process of creating gueuze completely blows my mind.

Lambics are the base for Gueuze creation. Whereas most styles of beers are fermented with carefully measured brewer’s yeast, Lambics are created through a process of spontaneous fermentation. Gueuze is the result of artfully blending Lambics of different ages different tastes.

Gueuze is also one of the only styles that uses aged hops. (In gueuze, hops are used primarily for their preservation characteristics and not so much for flavor.)

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One of the most infamous brewers of gueuze is Cantillon Brewery. Founded in 1900, Cantillon is a small traditional family brewery based in Brussels. The brewery also serves as the site for the Gueuze Museum in Brussels. It is open to the public to tour and see the maturing beer as well as to watch the brewing and bottling processes. Sign me up!

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“The Lambic beers from the Cantillon brewery, which are conserved in oakwood barrels, are called “young” after one year, but they will reach their full maturity after three years. The young beers contain the sugars which are necessary for the second fermentation in the bottle. The three years old beers will contribute their taste and their flavour. The main task for the brewer, however, is tasting. He will taste about ten Lambics from different barrels in order to select five or six which will be used for the Gueuze 100% Lambic presenting the typical characteristics of the beers from the Cantillon brewery.” Source: Cantillon Brewery

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Gueuze bottles are always sealed with a cork. Cantillon caps theirs with a crown-cork. Similar to the méthode champenoise, Lambics are laid to rest horizontally in a cellar (usually for a year). This allows for a second fermentation to take place within the bottle. The sugars to be converted into carbon dioxide in this process. It is a natural and extremely slow process.

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When the Lambic becomes sparkling, it is called Gueuze! Every blending will produce a different Gueuze. Since it is made using an entirely all natural process, there is no standard gueuze. Each brewery produces a unique gueuze. Every vintage is different. Yet another reason why the gueuze is my favorite style.

But what about the taste? In my opinion, gueuze is one of the most tasty and drinkable styles of beer in the world. Beautiful and natural, gueuze is a work of art.

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THE WENCH’S TASTING NOTES: CANTILLON CLASSIC GUEUZE

Brewery: Cantillon

Region: Brussels, Belgium

Style: Gueuze

Pairings: Goat cheese, figs, dried fruits, nuts, cheese, baked fruit pies, belgian waffles, pancakes with maple syrup …

Color: Super cloudy, golden orange

Carbonation: Little to no head, moderate lacing, decent overall carbonation.

Aroma: Belgian yeast (bananas & cloves), lemon, sour fruit, barnyard hay.

Mouthfeel: Very light bodied, smooth and clean.

Flavor: Citrus instantaneously overwhelms the palate. And I know it sounds weird for a beer, but I want to call it grapefruit. The flavor of the beer has a bitter acid component to it … similar to grapefruit. I would even go as far as to say it tastes like the rind of a grapefruit – ridiculously sour and fairly bitter. As the beer sits, it develops more apple cider-like characteristics.

Comments: This beer is super yummy. I guarantee that if I was to pour this beer blindly, most people would have no clue as to what it is … and most would not even be able to label it as a beer.

I am tempted to infuse a glass with a cinnamon stick. Perhaps I will do that with a different bottle in the future.

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Cheers to the Buckeyes! GO BUCKS!

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Avery Brewing Company (located in Boulder, CO) is one of my favorite American craft breweries … BY FAR! Avery’s Seasonal Maharajah IPA is one of my all time favorite IPA’s … a “staple” in The Beer Wench’s pantry! Avery also produces one the best barleywines that I have ever tasted – Hog Heaven. But that is only MY opinion – feel free to form your own!

Being new to Orlando – I am only JUST uncovering its beer “niches.”

The other day I found its candy store for big kids – Total Wine. Despite the name, Total Wine has a pretty damn decent beer selection – from all around the world!

I filled up a basket of single beers while I was there … and I am REALLY looking forward to sharing my experiences with each of the unique beers that I bought!

FIRST UP: Avery Karma

Beer Style: Belgian Ale
Hop Variety: Sterling
Malt Variety: Two-row barley, Belgian special B, cara 45, aromatic
OG: 1.048  
Alcohol By Volume: 5.2%  
IBU’s: 10
Color: Amber

Commerical Description: We believe in Karma. We suspect most of you do, too. It truly is a global concept. Very simply put, “you get what you give.” Inspired by this principle and the wonderful farmhouse and pale ales of Belgium, we’ve created Karma Ale, a decidedly fruity and estery ale, intricate in body and nose, all driven by a unique Belgian yeast strain. Remember, good things DO happen to good people. Here’s to being good!

Beer Wench Tasting Notes:

APPEARANCE: Light golden amber. Thick, foamy, off-white, slowly dissipating head. Decently lacing (props to me for having a squeaky clean glass!) Cloudy with subtle sediment.

AROMA: Characteristically BELGIAN! Mild malt, almost non-existent hops on the aroma. Belgian yeast takes the cake – lots of clove … subtle banana … some citrus. DEFINITELY a Belgian Ale! My only gripe is that is does not have the typical aroma of a Saison – aka Belgian-style farm ale. It is missing the characteristic “manure-esque” aroma of saisons that I have come to know and love …

TASTE: Light malt, little hops, low alcohol. Very smooth, easy to drink. Bitterness increases as the beer warms and sits in the glass. Highly carbonated, minimal acid, short finish.

OVERALL: Not what I expected. Based on the description, I was hoping for something closer to a saison-style ale. Besides the characteristically Belgian aroma – this ale lacked many of the qualities that I love and enjoy about Belgian beers. HOWEVER, in the end – the beer was smooth and drinkable. The low ABV makes it easy to enjoy several of these – without regretting it in the morning.

Karma may not be the BEST Avery ale out there, however – it is still a pretty decent beer. One that The Beer Wench thinks is definitely worth trying! A lighter beer, with Belgian notes … and decent drinkability.

CHEERS!!!

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