Beer: The Ages
Brewery: Deschutes Brewery (Bend, OR)
Style: Lambic – Gueze
8% ABV / 14 IBU
The Ages—give a beer a heady name like that, and you need to make sure it can deliver. In the case of Deschutes Brewery’s curious gueze-inspired multi-year lambic blend—a recent addition to the brewery’s vaunted Reserve Series—it totally, completely merits the pomp and fanfare. All the more impressive is that The Ages marks the Oregon brewery’s first foray into the world of lambics and they fucking nailed it! The Ages is easily the finest American-brewed gueze I’ve ever tasted and it’s firmly in keeping with world-class Belgian offerings like Oude Gueze Tilquin a l’Ancienne.
This particular blend was bottled at Deschutes on March 22, 2018. I “cellared”—I don’t actually have a cellar, I just let it age unopened in a temperature-controlled environment—my bottle for 14 months before opening it and probably could’ve been tempted to do it twice as long if I had any willpower whatsoever. Even the nose is fantastic. Like most gueze blends, The Ages offers a super dry and crisp finish with fierce flavoring of grape must – not unlike a chardonnay. By definition, the gueze is a complex offering, a mix of older and newer lambics, wisdom and beauty all rolled into one.
Deschutes calls attention on the label to the beer’s “spicy, tangy pear” and “white pepper” flavors, both of which are discernible. There’s a lot going on with The Ages, due to the presence of six different types of malt and a multi-year aging process on oak barrels. It’s also hopped in a subtle but fascinating way, with both Saaz (common in Czech pilsners) and Oregon-native East Kent Golding (more common in pale and lighter ales) hops. Fruit—from the aforementioned pear flavors and also some tart lemon-y notes—comes through impressively, but The Ages is unquestionably a sour-type beer for sour aficionados. It’s also weirdly still available in specialty stores. Don’t let the $16-20 price point (for a 500 ml bottle) scare you off; when the remaining supply of The Ages is gone, it’s gone, and the world will suffer.
More more info, check out Deschutes Brewery here.