Toer De Geuze at home
May starts with Toer de Geuze and it drives beer-aficionados through Flanders to discover Lambic producers.
Due to the pandemic, this year the event will go down in history with the name Tour de Geuze at Home because brewers and public will meet online.
Flanders brewmasters in live-streaming on Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd May.
if you love low-fermented Belgian beer, but you cannot go to Belgium to take part in Toer de Geuze, this year you will have a unique occasion: you can visit cellars that produce Lambic while being flop in your armchair at home. Get organised, because on Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd May in the afternoon Belgian brewmasters will stream live globally.
What distinguishes Geuze on the Belgian beer panorama? Only a Flemish brewer could maybe answer properly to this question, that’s another reason for enthusiasts to not miss Toer de Geuze. To put it simply, we can say that Geuze is created by mixing an old and a young Lambic.
Lambis is a legendary beer that has now become Slow Food Presidium.
Soti, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Tour de Geuze is held every two years and it is organised by HORAL (Hoge Raad voor Ambachtelijke Lambiekbieren), an association that promotes spontaneous-fermented Lambic knowledge and producers. The first edition was held in 1997, from that moment on, during the Toer days, the participants open up their doors to the public and welcome those who love tasting beer with the producers, sipping it through wheat, malt and hop perfumes. This year 10 breweries will take part in the event: Mort Subite, De Troch, De Oude Cam, Tilquin, Boon, Hanssens Artisanaal, Oud Beersel, Lambiek Fabriek, Lindemans and Timmermans.
“Traditional Lambic is a rare and almost legendary beer for experts. The first draft of the regulation was written with the help of Slow Food Metropolitan Brussels and two experts: Lorenzo Dabove, AKA Kuaska and Luca Giaccone, national coordinator of beer professors at Master of Food by Slow Food.
After starting the project, the Presidium is committed to write the definitive version of the regulation” [Slow Food Foundation].
The jewels of the great Belgian beer tradition.
Who already knows Toer knows that the event has now become a real festival that attracts several visitors from Europe and worldwide. It is an occasion to have access to niche products, jewels of the great Belgian beer tradition. Normally breweries can be reached by car, bicycle or by a shuttle service organised and managed by HORAL.
Via Wikimedia Commons
Pajottenland and Senne Valley bucolic landscapes in the Flemish Brabant Province will offer emotions during the journeys between one brewery and another.
Original Lambic recipe.
Lambic origin dates back to almost 500 years ago, it is a typical beer of Pajottenland region. It is not so easy to find the real Lambic today, let’s see the original recipe.
Lambic fermentation (Lambieck in Flemish) is 100% spontaneous and takes place without adding yeast, but now only few producers follow the tradition. This beer is produced only during cold months, the ideal temperature is between 8° and 10°, among the ingredients we can find raw wheat (35%), malty barley (65%) and hop that has been dried for two years to limit bitter aromas. The boiling phase lasts at least three hours, then wort is left to cool down for an entire night in wide and open copper tanks, so that the contact with air will activate microbiotics that make the fermentation start. After that, wort is poured in oak or chestnut barrels where fermentation can last up to three years; climate and weather influence the final product.
One-year-fermented Lambic is called Young while the one that ferments in a barrel from 2 to 3 years is called Old. Aging can go on for decades.
What are Lambic appearance, aromas and taste?
Let’s start highlighting that it is a still beer because carbon dioxide is spread during the aging phase as foam that overflows from the barrel higher cork. The extended contact with air oxidises the drink, that tends to become darker, so the final colour varies from pale yellow to intense gold. If the Young version is relatively cloudy, the Old one tends to be clearer. A distinctive trait is the absence of foam.
Aromas are characterised by lactic, acetic, earthy and animal notes, but fruity and citric notes are not missing.
Taste is markedly acid, dry, tannic and undoubtedly unique in the beer panorama, it varies from fruity to earthy. ABV is moderate: from 5% to 6%.
Belgian Geuze Champagne.
Geuze, also known as Belgian Champagne, as mentioned above, is obtained expertly mixing Lambic with different aging phases. Younger beer residual sugars make a second fermentation start that takes place in horizontal bottles. The result is a more complex and fine organoleptic profile than original Lambic. To put it simply, we can say that taste is marked by acidity that can be light or decisively strong. The characteristic trait is that particular fresh taste that reminds of champagne.
Few beers are so fascinating as Geuze and even less are those beers with a tradition that continued to live for 5 centuries. A picture of this ancient beer from the past: Pieter Brugel the Elder, in 1568, on the Peasant Wedding canvas has depicted a man while pouring a liquid from a big clay jug to a smaller one. Researchers affirm that that drink was a Lambic.