It is over 25 years since I first tasted Belgian Champagne, better known as Gueuze (also spelled Geuze) due to its carbonation and corking. Brussels, the capital of Belgium, is home to the lambic style of beer. Gueuze is made by blending young (1 year old) and old (2-3 year old) lambics into a new beer which is then bottled for a second fermentation. The young lambic is not fully fermented so contains fermentable sugars which allow the second fermentation to occur. Another type of Lambic that undergoes a second fermentation in the presence of sour cherries before bottling results is Kriek, a much-loved beer closely related to Gueuze.
Since Gueuze is made by blending lambics, it tastes different from traditional ale and pilsner style beers. There is none of the traditional hop bitterness as found in British ales because hops are used. Furthermore, the wild yeasts which are specific to lambic style beers give Gueuze a dry, cidery, musty, sour, acetic acid, and lactic acid taste. Many describe the taste as sour and "barnyard-like". In modern times, some brewers have added sugar to their gueuzes to sweeten them and make the beer more appealing to a wider audience.
Traditionally, Gueuze is served in champagne bottles, which hold either 375 or 750 ml.
This article was adapted from Wikipedia.
You can find out more about Gueuze by visiting Cantillon Brewery in Anderlecht, Brussels who are one of the best brewers of this delicious beer. They only use organically grown cereals in the production. Visit this blog of Thom's visit to the brewery.
Savour a Gueuze in the traditional Brussels bar A La Mort Subite. The name means "sudden death", no doubt something to do with the outcome of drinking too many Belgian beers too quickly. So take your time, enjoy your Gueuze in the company of good friends or an interesting book.
I found extensive comments and tasting notes on the Beer Advocate website.
I recommend these books on Belgian beers:
Visit my Squidoo site on Gueuze