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Aug 2021

Timmermans Oude Gueuze, Timmermans

Added: Sunday, August 1st 2021

Style Lambic & Gueuze ABV 6.7%

Timmermans Oude Gueuze (6.7%)

Timmermans is the oldest of the surviving lambic brewers in Belgium. It started life in the 18th century on a farm in Itterbeek, a suburb of Brussels, and is now a substantial commercial brewery owned by the John Martins’ drinks company.

Lambic is the name given to the beers in the Brussels region that are produced by wild or spontaneous fermentation, allowing yeasts in the atmosphere to turn malts sugars into alcohol. Gueuze is a blend of old and young lambics. The production of lambic and gueuze is strictly controlled by ordinances from both the Belgian government and the European Union.

Timmermans lost its way in the 1980s and 900s when it concentrated on fruit beers dismissed by connoisseurs as “alcopops”. But Anthony Martin, who runs John Martins, has restored the brewery’s good name, with the aid of brewmaster Willem Van Herreweghen, an expert on lambic brewing.

Oude [Old] Gueuze is the beer that rebuilt Timmerman’s name. In accordance with the laws governing the style, it’s brewed with blend of malted barley and unmalted wheat, of which wheat must compromise a minimum of 30 per cent of the grain.

A large amount of hops – six times more than in a conventional beer – are added in the boiling kettle but they are mainly aged hops, four years old, that have lost most of their bitterness: bitter hop notes would not blend well with either wheat or wild yeasts.

The hopped wort is transferred to the attic where is runs into a large copper tray called the cool ship. Windows and vents are opened to encourage wild yeasts to enter and begin fermentation.  After 24 hours, the fermenting beer is transferred to oak casks in the cellar where further yeasts and bacteria continue to attack the malt sugars and create alcohol. The casks are bought from Port makers and contain residual wine, yeasts and bacteria.

The beer stays in cask for as long as 27 months as some of the yeasts, including Brettanomyces that gives a distinctive musty note that brewers call “horse blanket, take some time to become active.

Willem Van Herreweghen and other lambic brewers don’t like the term “sour” used to describe their beer – much used in the United States and to a lesser extent in Britain. Frank Boon, a leading lambic brewer in Lembeek, the village that gave its name to the style, says “my beers are not sour – they are acidic, like Brut Champagne.”

Timmermans Oude Gueuze is immensely complex, with horse blanket, lychees, mangoes and port wine notes on the nose, with a gentle hint of grassy hops but an overwhelming palate and finish of tart, acidic fruit, wood and vanilla. Willem says bottled gueuze will continue to improve and age for 20 years.

The beer in 37.5cl bottles is available from Morrisons stores, £4.50. It was brewed in 2017 and bottled in 2020. Tours of Timmerman’s brewery are available:

Timmermans Oude Gueuze, Timmermans