The Lost Abbey is the highly-regarded premium beer brand of Port Brewing Co. operating out of the old Stone brewhouse in San Marcos, Calif. since its inception in 2006. The brewery is widely recognized for its excellent Belgian-style sours and American wild ales and makes substantial use of Brettanomyces and Lactobacillus in several of its flagship beers.
Of its esteemed lineup, perhaps no offering carries with it as much notoriety and desirability as Duck Duck Gooze.
First introduced by The Lost Abbey in 2009, Duck Duck Gooze is a blended oak-aged sour in the gueuze style1, with the original intent being an extremely limited release quantity and a schedule of only once every three years. The second release of 7,200 bottles was delayed by a year until 2013 in order for the brewery to focus on its Ultimate Box Set.2 The third release of Duck Duck Gooze is currently scheduled for 2016.
This particular bottle from 2013 was opened a little over a year after its release, and was chilled to refrigerator temperature just prior to opening. After the cage is removed, the cork pops with little ceremony and only a slight wisp of effervescent carbon dioxide escapes from the bottle. Duck Duck Gooze pours a dark golden orange into a Teku glass with very minimal head that almost immediately dissipates. There is no lacing to speak of and only a faint ring of bubbles remains around the rim of the glass. The body is very clear with no discernable sediment and there are only a few stray bubbles occasionally rising to the surface.
The initial aroma is immediately funky and I quickly pick up the Brettanomyces signature must along with some fairly noticeable lactic acid. I also detect a slight brininess as well as lemon rind and green apple. The fragrance from the glass is quite enjoyable and I find myself returning to nose the beer often.
My first sip of this beer is a tart burst across the palate that brings to mind sour green apple with a touch of salinity behind it. The tartness is not mouth puckering but is very sharp and well balanced with a subtle softness added by the oak barrel aging. According to the bottle, this beer was at least partially aged in red wine barrels although I am unable to detect or distinguish any specific red wine flavors. Duck Duck Gooze does finish somewhat dryly and is reminiscent of grape tannins, perhaps from the red wine barrels, and green apple peel.
The carbonation is very lively, but not overwhelming, and it combines well with the sharpness of the lactic acid to create a very pleasant mouthfeel. The beer is actually quite refreshing and very drinkable; I’m torn between savoring every last drop and drinking it as quickly as possible. Ultimately, I try to extend this once-in-a-lifetime beer3 as long as possible, but the flavors do not seem to be changing much as it warms and the carbonation does seem to be fading so I am quite happy to finish it before it goes flat in my glass.