Beer Review 0454: Boon Mariage Parfait Geuze (2009)
Editor’s Note: Beer 2 of 7 in my birthday beer week, in which I celebrate my birthday by reviewing beers I’ve sat aside for the occasion. I turn 31 on August 14. I advise you to celebrate your birthday accordingly, too!
This is my first foray into the world of Gueuze, which is a blended Lambic style beer that undergoes a second fermentation in the bottle. Also known as “Brussels Champagne,” Gueuze is produced in an area of Belgium called Pajottenland.
Situated in Lambeek, near Brussels is the Brouwerij Boon, headed up by Frank Boon, a pioneer in Lambic and Gueuze revival. The history of the brewery goes back to 1680; the facilities have changed hands many times before Mr. Boon bought it, but it has always made Gueuze beers. While Boon makes traditional Gueuze beers, they do use modern brewing techniques and equipment.
Boon’s Mariage Parfait Geuze is produced once each year to the tune of only 25,000 liters. 95% of the beer is Lambic that has been aged up to three years, while the remaining 5% is young, fresh Lambic. The young Lambic provides fermentable sugars and wild yeast, which causes a second fermentation inside the bottle. At 8% ABV (alcohol by volume), Boon give this beer a shelf-life of 20 years and encourage drinkers to age bottles.
I was careful on the pour so as not to disturb the yeast at the bottom of the bottle. This beer produced an average size, bright white head that was composed of lots of fizzy bubbles, kind of like a soda. It quickly faded; the beer was golden-orange in color, very pleasant to the eye and quite hazy. Although hazy, the beer was translucent and there were no visible particles or sediment floating. Lacing was very sparse and practically didn’t exist, with the exception of a couple of stubborn suds.
In the aroma department, there’s lots of funk — it’s leafy, musty hay and tart Granny Smith green apples. The funk continues with hints of leather and barnyard, but it is mostly like a soggy field with notes of fresh sod, crisp fall leaves, and an undercurrent of citrus hops. As it warmed, the apples turn into more of a tart cherry. The 8% ABV is completely hidden.
As for the taste, there’s a punch to the face from a formidable blast of vinegar/acid. But that doesn’t last long, and the sour opens up into a crisp green apple, still tart; middle of the taste is where things start getting weird. There’s just a touch of sweetness and then a bitterness — or what I can only describe as a bitterness — it almost seems medicinal, and kind of reminded me of bitter hops or bitter, charred oak barrel. Either way, the taste in the middle isn’t pleasant, and that’s a damn shame, because the finish is very nice, with lots of apple and cherry notes, barnyard funk, and a very dry, refreshing ending. This brew is medium-bodied, with a medium, gritty mouthfeel, thanks to the lively carbonation.
I’m not a big fan of sour flavors, but the sourness isn’t what turned me off of this beer — it was that weird taste in the middle. Nice start, great finish, but the middle of this beer doesn’t do it any favors and makes it hard to drink more than one glass. Not my cup of tea…er, beer.
Boon Mariage Parfait Geuze (2009), 80 points. Price: This beer was a gift to me, received through a beer club membership I got at Christmas 2012.