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.


  1. Black Label is one of my favourite beers of any type. Really good value and shockingly quaffable, even last year's 7%er.

  2. Didn't think it would be your sort of thing at all...