Gold Medal – Bruery Rueuze
Silver Medal – Oude Gueuze Tilquin à L'Ancienne
Bronze Medal – Cantillon Gueuze 100% Lambic
Other Participants: Girardin Gueuze 1882 (Black) & Drie Fonteinin Oude Gueuze
Board of Director Votes (includes @jagatelife, @chadmeindl, @Badger_Alum1, @ahrensjeremy and @rjjturner)
Gold Medal – Oude Gueuze Tilquin à L'Ancienne
Silver Medal – Bruery Rueuze
Bronze Medal – Girardin Gueuze 1882 (Black Label)
In case you were wondering, a Gueuze is a blend of oak aged lambics most commonly ranging from 1-3 years old. So breweries will take different batches of aged lambics, combine them together to hit a flavor that is consistent from year to year and then age the combined product prior to bottling. These beers are commonly brewed with wild caught strains of yeast and are always sour!
Let’s start at the top. Bruery Rueuze won in the most landslide victory in Great Taste of Cottage Grove history. Rueuze took 13 out of 15 first place votes (the two first place votes it missed came from the Board of Directors). It was definitely the most different from the other 4 beers. The Bruery has a pretty distinct yeast blend that is absolutely fantastic. It is more tart with less balance in my opinion, definitely more in line with typical American wilds. The second place best was from Tiquin. Interestingly enough, this brewery sources wort (the starting point for beer, which is basically sugar water prior to the yeast being added) from a number of Belgian breweries and then uses their own local yeast. Tilquin was able to pack in the most flavor while keeping everything in balance. I thought Cantillon and Girardin were both fantastic and really close. Cantillon was a bit more mellow up front with the tart notes finishing out the back, while Girardin had a bit more flavor throughout. Surprisingly enough, Drie Fonteinin came in dead last. Far too much sweetness with this beer that doesn’t have enough to keep it in check.
1) Tilquin 2) 1882 3) Cantillon 4) Rueuze 5) 3F
None of these beers are cheap, so if you are looking to explore the style, plan to spend some money. The Bruery has a fairly large distribution footprint, so look for Rueuze as their early winter offering (it started landing on shelves recently). This is definitely an Americanized version of the style, but it really is fantastic along with pretty much their entire sour line up. In Wisconsin, we are lucky enough to have Tilquin on the shelf most of the year. If you haven’t tried this beer yet, do it now. It is a great representation of the style and not terribly hard to get your hands on. The last three are the most difficult to track down. You will occasionally see tappings of both Cantillon and Drie Fonteinin, these events will definitely be worth a stop! The Girardin is rarely seen in the US. If you are willing to drop some money, head over to www.belgiuminabox.com. You may have to check in regularly to find a time when all of them are in stock, but get some friends together and place a large order, you will not be disappointed.