Tag Archives: Lambic and Gueuze

163. Girardin Gueuze Black Label 1882

When the lovely people behind Camberwell’s ever-magnificent Stormbird open a brand new pub in South London, you can sort of predict that Threehundredbeers will make an effort to be first on the scene.

Slightly too much of an effort in fact, as I pitched up outside the Star & Garter on opening night to find the place still to be something of a building site. Never mind, a couple of days later with the paint still drying, I was able to spend a very pleasant Sunday afternoon working through the impressive tap lineup.

And the fridge of course, because quietly minding its own business in there was a beer from the list which has not been at all easy to track down. In fact I’m not sure I recall even seeing it in Brussels. Anyway, here’s the Girardin Gueuze 1882, or “Black Label” as it’s known, for fairly self-evident reasons.

Girardin Gueuze Black Label 12882 at the Star and Garter, Bromley

Girardin are a family-run brewery based in the tiny Belgian village of Sint-Ulriks-Kapelle, and they produce two editions of their Gueuze: the White Label and this, the Black. This is the one the proper beer nerds tend to seek out, as it’s the unfiltered, unpasteurised version, bursting with delicious Lambic flavours.

It’s a complex beer, blended from 12, 18 and 24 month aged Lambics. It’s sour as befits the style, but not as brow-moisteningly so as some examples. Instead it’s zesty and citrussy yet full of soft vanilla and peach flavours and the unmistakable musty notes provided by the Brettanomyces yeast.

There are constantly extra depths to discover as you take your time over it and wish you had one of the larger bottles instead.

I shall certainly return to the Star & Garter before long and see what else we can find there. Bromley has certainly hit the jackpot now beer-wise, and I wish everyone involved in the new pub all the best.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Brouwerij Girardin, Sint-Ulriks-Kapelle, Belgium
Style: Lambic and Gueuze
Strength: 5.0% ABV
Found at: The Star & Garter, 227 High Street, Bromley, London BR1
Serving: 375ml bottle

148. Cantillon Gueuze-Lambic

Since we’re quite so comfortable sat at the bar here at La Capsule, let’s pick something more from the impressive tap list to follow the local speciality L’Angelus Bière de Garde.

I’m a big fan of Cantillon as is no doubt fairly clear by now. I toured the brewery in Brussels last year, and enjoyed the Kriek, then returned last month for the perhaps even better Rosé de Gambrinus. The Gueuze-Lambic is the core of the range, being the straight Geuze upon which the fruit-infused beers are based.

To my very great surprise, it’s served here at La Capsule in cask-conditioned form. I really had not expected to see handpumps in France, let alone one with Cantillon in it, so let’s not miss out.

Cantillon Gueuze-Lambic at La Capsule, Lille

The smell is amazing, eye-watering even. To be frank, cask Cantillon Gueuze-Lambic stinks to high heaven, but in a good way. The sourness is fully apparent but there’s a great yeasty funk to the aroma too, with mushroomy, musty, horse-inflected Brettonomyces-like yeast notes reminiscent of an aged Orval.

It smells nicer than it sounds, and obviously the flavour is stunning. Brow-moisteningly sour, it’s crammed with tangy, face-contorting citrus. Quality Geuzes such as the Cantillon always have so much depth and complexity behind that sourness though, from the expert blending of years-old barrel-aged Lambics.

That’s very much the case here, and the cask conditioning really works. Compared to the bottled or only slightly less rare keg beer, the edges are rounder and softer bringing a beautiful balance to proceedings. The finish is so long and dry I’ll still be tasting it back in London. This is a stunning beer in immaculate form.

I’m having a good day, all in all. With a few more moments to kill before running for the Eurostar, I followed the Cantillon with something called Capsoul. This is the La Capsule house beer, brewed by the renowned Belgian brewery De Struise. It was dark and rich and far easier to drink than its 10% strength might lead you to expect. So I had two.

It was starting to turn into a Saturday night at La Capsule by this point, and the somewhat compact bar was quite bustling, though the atmosphere remained as relaxed and convivial as I’m sure it always is. I was sad to leave, and I’ll make a point of returning before long.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Brasserie Cantillon Brouwerij, Brussels, Belgium
Style: Lambic and Gueuze
Strength: 5.0% ABV
Found at: La Capsule, Rue des Trois Molettes, Lille, France
Serving: Cask, 25cl

143. Cantillon Rosé de Gambrinus

It’s day three in Brussels, and you certainly didn’t think I would come all this way without a return visit to Cantillon. I toured Cantillon last year, and very much enjoyed the Kriek, a sour, cherry-infused version of their world famous Geuze.

There sadly wasn’t time to repeat the tour this time, so you’ll have to make do with my words and pictures from last year, a morning when I practically had this venerable beery mecca to myself.

In a pleasing turn of events, there are still three Cantillon beers to be covered, and the thirsty beer pilgrim can sample this one, the Rosé de Gambrinus in the tasting rooms for a couple of euros. Let’s order a glass, steer clear of the deathtrap furnace in the middle of the room, and pull up a barrel.

Cantillon Rosé de Gambrinus at Brasserie Cantillon, Brussels

The Rosé de Gambrinus is a very similar style of beer to the Kriek. Like that one, this is a Geuze, a bottle fermented blend of barrel-aged sour Lambic beers—a style in which Cantillon lead the world—infused with fruit, in this case raspberries.

And oh my, it’s good. It’s a shame the glass used here isn’t big enough to get your face right in there and fully enjoy the aroma, because it is fantastic. Face-puckering sourness laden with gorgeous raspberry fruit and the smell of generations of the same family perfecting their signature brewing style and technique.

To taste, it’s just a lovely beer. The sourness is pretty full on, but unlike the Kriek, which is made with sour cherries, the sweetness of the raspberries hits a perfect balance, without ever straying into Robinson’s cordial territory. Indeed the finish is long, tart and moreishly dry.

Initially light, zesty and refreshing, you imagine you could drink this all day, and yet it’s so complex that you’d still be discovering new depths to it at bedtime. Given that it’s not quite 11am yet and there is other business to attend to before we run for the Eurostar, we had probably better not try anyway.

We will, however, take advantage of the unnecessarily reasonable prices at the brewery shop—£6 for a 75cl bottle of Vigneronne would tempt you to leave London for good—and load up the rucksack with some treats to take home.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Brasserie Cantillon Brouwerij, Rue Gheude, Brussels, Belgium
Style: Lambic and Gueuze
Strength: 5.0% ABV
Found at: Cantillon Brewery, Brussels
Serving: Glass, poured from a 750ml bottle

126. Drie Fonteinen Oude Geuze

Threehundredbeers is a huge fan of Cask Pub & Kitchen in Pimlico. For five years, Cask has been at the forefront of the beer revolution that has been happening in London and beyond. It was the first branch in what became the Craft Beer Co. group, and it’s basically just a great pub.

So it’s a bit of a surprise that not one of the preceding 125 beers has been found there. Let’s put that right by spending a very pleasant Sunday afternoon working our way through the tap lineup and rummaging around in the remarkably well-stocked fridges.

This will do nicely.

Drie Fonteinen Oude Geuze at CASK Pub & Kitchen

That’s Drie Fonteinen Oude Geuze, from the tiny town of Beersel in Belgium, not far from Brussels. You know all about Geuze by now of course, thanks to our visit to Cantillon, and that cracking Boon Mariage Parfait Kriek we had more recently.

There are three Drie Fonteinen beers to track down, and the Oude Geuze is I guess the core of the range. It’s a blend of 1, 2 and 3-year-old barrel-aged Lambics, blended and refermented in the bottle, in this case for about a year and a half, to become a classic, sour, frothy Geuze.

Frothy enough to try to escape from the bottle before we’ve even paid for it, in fact. That stirs up the yeast a little, and so the Oude Geuze pours a handsome, hazy amber colour with a characteristic mountain of white foam that fades quickly.

The aroma is of big, mouth-watering citrus sourness, underpinned with subtle woody notes which I assume to be a result of all that time spent in barrels.

That carries through to the flavour, where the sour is of course front-and-centre, but perfectly balanced by generous mouthfuls of citrus fruit and those years of aging, leading to a thoroughly complex beer. There’s the dryest, longest finish that I can remember ever coming across on a beer.

As refreshing as it is, this is a beer that’s well worth taking your time over and savouring slowly to appreciate all those flavours.

Without wishing to get all philosophical, for me Geuze has become symbolic of the beer journey this ridiculous blog has taken me on. When I tried my first ever example, the Boon Geuze, I apparently didn’t much care for it. With a lot more experience under my belt, it has quickly become one of my very favourite styles.

Fortunately there are a few more to track down, and a glance behind the bar suggests Cask may able to help us out again in the near future.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen, Beersel, Belgium
Style: Lambic and Gueuze
Strength: 6.0% ABV
Found at: CASK Pub & Kitchen, Charlwood Street, London SW1V
Serving: 375ml bottle

120. Boon Mariage Parfait Kriek

Oh BrewDog. You mischievous bunch of pseudo-anarchist yet ruthlessly commercially driven scamps. Stop winning me over by actually being really nice guys who genuinely know and care a great deal about good beer.

And stop tempting me back to spend all of my wages at your fancy new Clapham Junction bar with its magnificently cornucopial supply of rare and delicious beers, such as Boon Mariage Parfait Kriek.

Actually don’t stop: this would have been a difficult one to get hold of otherwise.

This is a very special sour Gueuze from Lembeek in Belgium, brewed with no less than 400g of overripe, sour cherries per litre of beer, and then aged in oak vats for many months before being expertly blended and then refermented in bottle for a minimum of two years.

Boon Mariage Parfait Kriek at BrewDog Clapham Junction

Here we have a bottle of the 2011 vintage of Boon Mariage Parfait Kriek. It’s presented in a smart 375ml bottle with a sexy little champagne cork arrangement on top. Full credit must go to the barman for trusting the customer to open and pour this one themself.

It pours a rich, wine-dark red colour with a big frothy pink head which fades almost immediately. The aroma is light and delicate, with modest, fragrant hints of fruit and sourness.

That lightness and delicacy carries over to the flavour. Despite the respectable 8% ABV payload and the huge amounts of fruit, wood and time that have gone into this it’s such a subtle beer. You can taste the cherries for sure, but to call this a fruit beer would be to miss the point entirely.

There’s almost entirely no sweetness there at all, just a huge long dry finish that has you reaching for the next sip immediately. For all that dryness, it’s surprisingly refreshing, and as with the Cantillon Kriek, it’s sour, complex and just truly special.

It may well sound pretentious, but this is a real connoisseur’s beer, and in no way could my clumsy tasting notes and affectionate digs at BrewDog do it justice.

Apparently the Mariage Parfait should age beautifully over quite literally a matter of decades, and so now I’ve enjoyed this one, that bottle of the 2012 I found at BottleDog a couple of months ago can be put aside for a special occasion many years into the future.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Brouwerij Boon nv, Lembeek, Belgium
Style: Lambic and Gueuze
Strength: 8.0% ABV
Found at: BrewDog Clapham Junction, Battersea Rise, London SW11
Serving: 375ml bottle

82. Cantillon Kriek

The time has come for 300 Beers to selflessly embark on a brief, shall we say, “research” trip to Brussels to track down a few of the many Belgian beers still required for this ridiculous quest.

In this case, it’s a sour, cherry-infused beer known as Kriek, which I enjoyed in the tasting rooms at the Cantillon brewery in the Belgian capital as part of a tour of the brewery. You can read all about my visit here.


Cantillon Kriek starts life as two year-old, barrel-aged Lambic. Large quantities of sour Schaerbeek cherries are then soaked in the Lambic for around six months, at which point a quantity of fresh, young Lambic is blended in. The resulting blend is transferred to bottles for a period of secondary fermentation, during which time it becomes a delicious, frothy red Gueuze.

I’m not typically a fan of fruit beers, but then it’s fair to say that this isn’t a typical fruit beer. Like all Cantillon beers it’s as sour as can be, and the cherries complement that sourness beautifully.

The result is a satisfying and complex beer, and the tiny hint of sweetness provided by the cherries just offsets the mouth-puckering Lambic sourness, to leave a tart, dry and lingering finish.

Cantillon Kriek is certainly moreish, but its richness means it’s probably best enjoyed in smaller quantities. I’m not sure I’ll become a huge fan of fruit beers just yet, but it certainly makes for a refreshing change, and the chance to enjoy it just feet from where it was brewed, surrounded by the evocative sights, sounds and smells of the venerable Cantillon brewery only adds to the experience.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Brasserie Cantillon Brouwerij, Rue Gheude, Brussels, Belgium
Style: Lambic and Gueuze
Strength: 5.0% ABV
Found at: Cantillon Brewery, Brussels
Serving: Taster, poured from a 750ml bottle

56. Oude Geuze Boon

Here’s another beer that should be a completely new experience for me. Oude Geuze Boon hails from Belgium and is an example of a style of beer known as Gueuze*, itself a sub-type of Lambic, a sour wheat beer synonymous with the town of Lembeek in Belgium.

This is the first time I’ve tried a beer labelled with any of the terms Gueuze, Lambic or “sour” and, truth be told, I’ve had the bottle sitting around for quite some time while I plucked up the courage.

That may be no bad thing, since Lambics are well known for their tendency to improve with age. This one dates from the 2010-11 bottling and sports a “best before” date of early October 2032. You get the feeling the date is only on there at all simply to satisfy an EU bureaucrat somewhere.


Oude Geuze Boon is presented in a smart 375ml bottle, and is Champagne-corked, to let you know you’re dealing with something a bit grown-up. It pours a typically Belgian and slightly cloudy deep golden colour, and has a tightly frothy white head backed up with a lively fizz.

There’s an immediate and unmistakeable pong of cider, in particular the distinctive sweet-yet-sour stench of the lamentable Scrumpy Jack, which briefly transports me straight back to memories of the early 90s.

At the risk of stating the obvious, the beer tastes sour, but unfortunately, aside from a fairly standard Belgian ale hiding in there somewhere, there isn’t really much more to it than that. As with Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier, it’s hard to taste anything beyond the main gimmick of the beer, and as with the Rauchbier, I soon wish the bottle were smaller.

I fully accept that a lot of that will be down to my own inexperience with the style: these kinds of beers are quite literally an acquired taste, though I don’t foresee myself drinking enough of the stuff in future to acquire it. That said, there are a few more in The Book which I’ll have to wade through at some point.

Of course, at a mere three years old, this bottle has a lot of growing up to do, so it would also be fascinating to see what 20 years or so worth of cellaring would do for a beer like this.

All in all then, this is not to my taste by any means, but I’m glad I finally tried it.

* If it appears that I’m spelling things inconsistently here, my justification is that “Gueuze” is the name of the beer style as given in The Book, and on Wikipedia, while “Geuze” is the spelling used in the name of this particular beer, as seen on the label.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Brouwerij Boon nv, Lembeek, Belgium
Style: Lambic and Gueuze
Strength: 7.0% ABV
Found at: Utobeer, Borough Market, London SE1
Serving: 375ml bottle