Behind the Barrel: Iron John’s Brewing Company “Golden Gueuze”

When “Iron” John Adkisson began brewing beer over 25 years ago, he had a simple vision of what he wanted to make: damn good beer.

During a trip to the small production brewery last week, it was evident by the throngs of people in attendance that he’s achieved that vision.

Adkisson and company released three new beers last week: Peachy Goat Gose, Jackalope Jackfruit Hefeweizen, and Golden Gueuze. And it’s the latter that has Arizona’s craft beer industry abuzz. The gueuze-style blended lambic is apparently the only one of its kind in Arizona.

The History of Gueuzes and Lambics

Lambic is a beer style dating back to 1559. It originated in Belgium and is fermented by being exposed to wild yeasts and bacteria. The most prominent yeast strains Brettanomyces Bruxullensis and Brettanomyces Lambicus in lambics are found only in and around Brussels and are thus used by the world’s most sought-after beers from Brasserie Cantillon.

A gueuze is blend of young and old lambics, which are bottled after blending, then aged for two to three years to produce a dryer, fruitier and more intense style of lambic.

The Development of the Golden Gueze

In 2014, Adkisson obtained wine barrels from Coronado Winery in Willcox and began the arduous task of barrel-aging beers. For Iron John’s Brewing Company Golden Gueuze, he opted to go with a Grenache wine barrel. Adkisson and crew said they they checked on it sporadically and decided that August 18 would be the release date.

The final result pours a bold golden color, a half-inch of white head, and very little lacing. The nose exhibits qualities of wild yeast with evidence of big funkiness, oak and wood from the Grenache barrel, some earthiness, and a slight herbal note. The taste is incredibly complex – lemony citrus, green grape, and green apple all danced across the tongue as well as characters from the Brettanomyces.

This funky farmyard beer with fruit nuances was nothing short of amazing and the fact that is was brewed and aged right here in Tucson is nothing short of epic.

If you’re looking for a beer that is crafted and curated with passion over the course of several years, then do yourself a favor a get to Iron John’s Brewing Company and stock up on the Golden Gueuze — it will only get better with age.

Iron John’s Brewing Company is located at 245 S. Plumer Ave #27. For more information, call (520) 775-1727 or visit

David Bowers is a passionate and published craft beer and college athletics writer based in Tucson, Arizona.