I don't usually post about commercial beers, but last week my friend Dyan picked up every gueuze he could find at State Line Liquors and brought them over to my place for a tasting. Nathan chipped in a few he had carried back from a trip to Belgium and Dan and Devin joined in.
The 3 Fonteinen Oude Gueuze stole the show for me (multi-layered funk, complexity, and balance), but the Oud Beersel (bright acidity), and Cantillon Lou Pepe (big oak character) were right up there. The biggest disappointment was the Cantillon Classic, it just didn't have the sour punch that I remembered from having drank it on its own. The Chapeau and the Timmermans were the only two I hadn't had before, both were better than I expected with the Chapeau being very cellar like and the Timmermans having not quite enough complexity to compete.
I was surprised at just how big the range of flavors was between these beers, it is something I didn't quite grasp having the beers on their own. After the first few beers our palates got used to the acidity so that may be why some of the beers (like the Cantillon) didn't taste as sour as I remembered them. The growler of Russian River Sanctification tasted mildly tart at first (not nearly as sour as as bottles from previous releases, apparently Vinnie backed down on the Pedio/Lacto this time because he thought he had too many sours on tap at the pub), but when we went to finish it off after the tasting it almost tasted like a pale ale (big citrus character and no sourness).
It is a shame I didn't have time to make up some starter wort to capture all the bugs from these beers, but as it is I don't have plans to brew another sour for a couple months anyway.
If you have a couple willing friends (and can get your hands on a few gueuzes) I would suggest doing something similar, it was probably the best $23 I have spent on an evening of drinking recently.
Has anyone else tried something similar? I'd be interested to hear how their results compared.