Lindemans Gueuze Cuvée René

lindemans-cuvee-rene1The Lindemans lambics, as popular as they are, are pretty terrible beer. As sweet alco-pop malternatives, sure, they’re fine. But as lambics? A bit too sticky-sweet. Y’see, Lindemans uses artificial sweeteners and fruit juice in their lambic line to sweeten the brews, and also filter and pasteurize them to put the yeast to bed. In the end, this leaves most of the Lindemans line completely drinkable – especially for people that don’t like traditional beer – but a far cry from the sour, funky, wonderful world of traditional Belgian lambics.

I picked up the Cuvée René in hopes that the brewery’s foray into the gueuze family of lambics would be an improvement over the fruit brews. I also wanted to try a new Gueuze, since it is my absolute favorite beer style of late. The Cantillon Classic has been a great introduction to the style, but I’ve been looking for something different and a little bit lighter on the wallet. At under ten bucks for a massive 750ml bottle, the Cuvée René looked worth the risk.

In case you’re not familiar with the gueuze style, I’ll do a quick primer. A gueze is a blend of two different lambics, one “young” (brewed less than a year ago) and one “old” (brewed a few years earlier). Since the young beer still contains plenty of sugars that haven’t been fermented yet, the already funky beer goes through a secondary fermentation after being blended. The end result is a beer that is very tart, very sour, and very dry. If you’re typically a fan of British and American ales and lagers, this style may be practically unrecognizable as a beer. Like stinky cheese or uber-spicy food, gueuzes can be daunting for a first-timer.

The description of the beer, pulled from the US distributor’s website, doesn’t offer too much insight beyond what I just covered; Possibly the oldest beer, Gueuze, or Geuze, (pronounced “GOO-za”) is unseasoned, wild-fermented wheat beer. The brewers blend aged lambic and younger lambic, to taste, and a bottle refermentation occurs after capping. It is highly coveted by gourmands in Belgium who lay it in their cellars like wine.

In the glass, the Cuvée René is a light and effervescent gold, not too far off from a white wine or champagne – that is, apart from the thick white head. The nose is strong, sour citrus, with lemon zest and some Chardonnay vinous notes as well. There’s also plenty of oak to go around, which again brings wine to mind.

Sour, sour and more sour comes to mind on the first sip. The beer isn’t as much of a sensory assault as the Cantillon gueuzes, but that’s not to say the beer isn’t puckeringly tart. The flavor is sour apple and grapefruit citrus, tart and pleasant. The malt backbone is slight and earthy – I want to say hay is the flavor I can’t quite put my finger on. Cuvée René is super-dry, and has a lingering sour candy aftertaste despite the crisp finish.

Despite my writing about the beer being sour, it is definitely the least “in your face” gueuze I’ve had. Where this beer is tarter than your typical Belgian (or any of the Lindemans lambics), it isn’t spell-it-with-a-capital-S SOUR like a lot of spontaneously fermented Belgians. The flavors are all there, but the Cuvée René is a mite slighter than most sour beers. It isn’t the best gueuze I’ve had, but it’s tasty and well-made – which makes it a perfect introduction to the world of sour beers.

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5 responses to “Lindemans Gueuze Cuvée René

  1. The Beer Wench

    You had to of known that I was going to weigh in on this post.

    Cuvee Rene was my first gueze (as I’m sure you may have known from my incessant posts about the gueze — aka my favorite style of beer). And whereas I agree with your comments about it being on the lighter end of the spectrum, I also believe that our american beer palates are becoming over stimulated by extreme versions of beer styles (we always want more… More hops, more tartness, more bourbon, etc.) And by expecting these things, we tend to overlook and snub well-made beers of lesser potency.

    Now don’t you even think that I am attacking you in any way what so ever. I am just as guilty as everyone else of being a sourhead — I want the beers that have so my h acid they rip the skin from the roof of my mouth and reak havoc on my stomach. Heck, Duck Duck Gooze was my favorite beer of 2009.

    What I get out of Cuvee Rene is a bit different than you. I happen to really enjoy the Brettanomycis Lambiscus (sorry if I spelt it wrong I’m on my iPhone). I like the subtle grassy, barnyard Funk (what I think of as a lite cow manure) that is on the nose. That is also the reason I like Burgundian and Rhone wine… gotta love the funk! And like you, I get a bit of hay in the taste.

    Whilst it may not be sour enough for some, I will always love Cuvee Rene — it was the beer that made the biggest impact on my life as a beer drinker and a beer writer and I’ve never been the same ever since.

    Thanks for posting about Rene… Great memories, indeed.

    PS: Drie Fontaine is my favorite gueze of all time. If you can’t get it, I’ll send it to you!

  2. I tried this.. love their other flavors but this one was gag worthy, left an aftertaste of day old vomit in my mouth. I even tried it with a sugar cube. Rancid.

  3. @Debra; Were you expecting a sour beer? I can see how the Gueuze would seem pretty horrid if you were expecting something kinda sweet like the rest of the Lindemans line.

  4. For you to call Lindemans beers terrible is ridiculous and irresponsible. If you don’t like them, fine, but plenty of people do.

    Your comment about wanting lambic less expensive than Cantillon tells all; you want it but you want it cheaper. Good luck, try Chapeau.

    As for Cuvee Rene, blind taste it against the blended lambics you favor that actually buy wort from Lindemans.

  5. JayWatermelon

    I just picked up a bottle of Lindemans Gueuze Cuvée René and found it to have the taste of urine and manure with the bouquet of a barnyard. If you like the taste of non-chewable asprin then this is the beer for you.

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