Horal’s Oude Geuze Mega Blend

megablendThe nature of producing Geuze makes it quite suitable to blend lambics from different brewers. As a matter of fact, in the old days some pub owners blended their own Geuze (or added their own fruit to create a fruit lambic), a tradition that has sadly disappeared as a result of the general decline of traditional lambic brewing. Fortunately, the practice of Geuze blending  still exists at “geuzestekers” like Hanssens in Dworp and, more recently, De Cam in Gooik.

It was only a matter of time before the traditional, and not always so traditional, lambic producers that make up Horal (the High Council for Artisanal Lambic beers) decided to release a beer with contributions from most Horal brewers and blenders: 3 Fonteinen, Boon, Timmermans, Oud Beersel, Lindemans, De Troch, De Cam and Hanssens. Missing from the list are Girardin and Mort Subite. Girardin is a member of Horal but generally tends to keep a lower profile and perhaps this played a part in its decision not to participate in the creation of this beer. One tour guide at Toer de Geuze 2009 speculated that Mort Subite (whose Oude Kriek indicates that it still can made a good beer if it wants to) may not have been allowed to participate by its new owner Heineken. Another brewery that did not participate is Cantillon but this should not be a surprise in light of Cantillon’s decision not to join HORAL because of its inclusion of breweries who have, let’s say, a lukewarm commitment to traditional lambic brewing.

Horal’s Oude Geuze Mega Blended was produced under the supervision of Frank Boon.  1, 2 and 3 year old lambics from the 8 collaborating brewers and blenders were collected in the summer of 2008.  The blend was bottled on October the 16th and released to the general public on the day of the Toer de Geuze, April 26, 2009.  Reportedly 16000 bottles were produced and all the bottles were numbered. The recommended sales price during the Toer de Geuze was 6 Euro. Bottle number 00001 was sold by Horal on Ebay on April the 20th for 255 Euro. As we discovered during the consumption of the Mega Blend, the recommendation on the bottle label to age this Geuze until 2011 is solid advice.

The following notes were taken on Friday, May 15, 2009:

Poured into a Cantillon Geuze glass.

Appearance: Golden, hazy, quite carbonated,  poured slowly but still had a two-finger thick head, remarkable lacing over the course of the entire beer.

Smell: Funky Brettanomyces  smell, but not overpowering. Missing some of the sharp, acidic characteristic smells of other Geuzes — very subdued. Smells sweeter as it gets warmer.

Taste: Mild, sweet-sour, lemon, somewhat astringent, little bitterness. Almost no aftertaste. Not too appealing when it approaches room temperature.

Mouthfeel: Rich carbonation, feels thicker/creamier as it goes down.

Drinkability: With a few notable exceptions, traditional Geuzes are always very drinkable. This one could have a bit more “bite” (more tartness) to it. Like most Boon products, excessive carbonation and foaming can be distracting.

Horal’s Oude Geuze Mega Blend is a decent Oude Geuze but seems to have left the brewer too early. On the other hand, some people may enjoy the taste of a young Geuze and the early release date enables lambic connoisseurs to taste the beer at various stages during its long life. An attempt will be made to age a bottle for 5 more years and revisit this beer in the future.

The name Horal’s Oude Geuze Mega Blend has been chosen to reflect the collaborative effort of 8 lambic brewers and blenders. But since a traditional Geuze requires the hand of a blender to make it all happen, one could argue that not all collaborators are equal and this is really a Boon product.  Only time will tell how this beer will compare against  Frank Boon’s best creation, Boon Oude Geuze Mariage Parfait.