You’ve likely heard of gose, but have you heard of gueuze? Pronounced “gooze,” the beer is a type of lambic that originated in Belgium and consists of a blend of one-year-old lambic mixed with older lambics. For the most part, only a small percentage of American breweries have attempted to create beers in this style. Among those made in the US, the Vieux Bois 3-Year Blend #2 from Montana-based Bozeman Brewing Company—created from a unique blend of three-, two-, and one-year-old lambic-inspired barrels—is one such interpretation I'd recommend. The brewery calls it a “gueuze-inspired wild ale,” making clear that Vieux Bois #2 is not, in fact, a true gueuze from Belgium, but rather the brewery’s tribute to this time-honored style.
Aroma and Appearance
Vieux Bois #2 comes in hand-filled 375-milliliter bottles topped with a traditional Belgian-style cork and cage and an adorned with a retro (but a very elegant) label that lists the beer’s pertinent details. Out of the bottle, the beer pours a bright gold color, topped with white foam that disappears quickly after pouring. The head leaves behind a still beverage, dank with funky and—dare I say—musty aromas of acid, citrus, oak, and the typical “horse blanket” earthy character attributed to Brettanomyces yeast.
This is an excellent barrel-aged sour ale and one worth seeking out.”
Complex layers of flavor and a firm tartness await the palate with Vieux Bois #2. Upon my first sip, the mild flavors of vinegar, green apples, and lemon hit my tongue, followed by robust notes of oak and herbal earthiness. The beer finishes dry with a soft yet effervescent mouthfeel despite its reported pH of 3.4—which, to be fair, is a hair acidic, considering typical pH values for standard ales are in the 4.0-4.5 range.
Given that I can only count the number of gueuze beers I’ve had on one finger (namely the Belgian original, Oude Geuze Boon), I can’t say I’m a good judge of the style or any interpretation thereof. What I can tell you is this is an excellent barrel-aged sour ale and one worth seeking out, if you can manage to get yourself to Big Sky Country to get your hands on a bottle or two.