13 September 2017

A drop of the black stuff

I laughed when I saw that Grand Cru Beers had put a stock of Oude Geuze Boon Black Label on the shelf in my local SuperValu. Every week, doing the grocery shopping, I'd pass by it and think "Haha, I mean who's going to buy that in Dublin 12? For €11 a bottle?" It took a couple of months to realise that it was me.

There's a whiff of the US about its English-language label and imperial units. I guess it's intended more for there than Sundrive Road. There's also the claim to be "the driest geuze we make", because those Americans love a superlative. I did precede it with a standard Oude Geuze Boon, for calibration. Any excuse, really. And yes, while the basic one has a lovely stonefruit juiciness, that's missing from this. Instead there's a mouth-puckering edge and a hit of bricky nitre. It's not overdone, however, keeping everything very classy and classic. There's a real invigorating quality, helped by the busy palate-scrubbing fizz.

While highly enjoyable, I do think some of the complexity is missing compared to the standard. It's less rounded, going all-out for big sour. Just as well the Boon blending skill kicks in and insists on still making a superb, properly balanced, geuze. €11 well spent.

With a taste for geuze in my mouth I decided to open the freebie bottle I picked up at the Mort Subite brewery back in May. They've called it Bubbles from Brussels, which is slightly odd as Mort Subite isn't in Brussels: the nearest large town is called Asse. Maybe a rebrand is in order.

I wasn't expecting much from it, but it's not half bad. Not first-tier geueze by any stretch, but neither is it an oversweetened nerve-jangler. Instead it's right in the middle ground: tangy and earthy without going for full-on wince-inducing sourness. There's a waxy bitterness, some citrus peel, and a mild gunpowder spice: the core elements of really good geuze, but dialled back, as though the brewers weren't sure if people would like them. The biggest surprise is that this light-touch lambic is a whopping 7% ABV. It really doesn't taste it. Much like the Mort Subite tour itself, it's far from unmissable but not bad for free.

It must be nearly time to go to Belgium again.