It’s time to take a virtual visit to the Pajottenland region of Belgium and explore the Lambic.
Lambic is produced by spontaneous fermentation, by exposing the beer to wild yeast and bacteria. This unpredictable process gives the Lambic its distinctive flavors.
Lambic runs the gambit from dry and cidery to funky and sour and might be a good and interesting way to introduce your red wine drinkers to beer.
Lambic is mostly wheat, a combination of malted barley and unmalted wheat (approx. 60-40 percent). The wort is cooled overnight in a flat pan and left exposed to the elements so all of those wonderful microorganisms can perform their magic. Here you will find, amongst a horde of other microorganisms the wonderful Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Saccharomyces pastorianus and Brettanomyces bruxellensis.
You can find Lambic being brewed and fermented in the colder parts of the year.
Where are the Hops?
The Lambic is interesting is how hops play a role. Unlike many other beer styles where the hop can be an aromatic or flavor star, here they are used mainly for their natural preservative qualities. The bittering, aroma and flavors imparted are still there but in the background.
One key component of the Lambic that makes it into the bottle is it is a blend of multiple Lambic beers.
There are currently 9 breweries brewing the Lambic wort within the Senne Valley and four lambic blenders who buy the wort from breweries to age in their own barrels and then make their custom blends.
The brewers take their various Lambic batches and blend them to get just the flavor they want and that is what goes into the bottle.
Lambic comes in a few different variations these days.
A mixture of a young and an old Lambic. The younger Lambic undergoes a secondary fermentation in the bottle. A gueuze can ferment up to a year before being shipped out for sale. This version of the Lambic can often have a shelf life of up to 20 years. The gueuze is also carbinated and champagne like. Expect something dry and musty and barnyard with some acidic sour thrown in for good meausure.
Popular versions of the style
- Cantillon Classic Gueuze – Brasserie Cantillon
- Lindemans Gueuze Cuvee Reme – Brouwerij Lindemans
- Oude Gueuze – Hanssens Artisinal bvba
A sweetened beer featuring a blend of Lambic and a young beer with brown sugar added in, this low-alcohol beer is meant as an easy day drinker.
This a Belgian beer was traditionally created by fermenting Lambic with sour Morello cherries. These days many breweries will use different cherries or even things like cherry juice and sugar.
Popular versions of the style:
There is a debate amongst some regarding the Kriek and the turning away of some brewers from cherries to fruit juice. This is to be expected whenever time honored brewing traditions come face to face with market realities. An interesting experiment might be to gather up a group of Kriek Lambic and divide them into the various categories of real fruit vs. juice and do a taste test to see if there is any discernable difference.
Even better, do a blind taste test and then see which ones came out on top.
Either way, finding interesting ways to go out and try more beers sounds like a science experiment just waiting.
Friday Night Hangout
Join us Friday, July 31, 2015 for #FridayNightHangout Episode 169.
Share Your Thoughts
Have you explored the Lambic yet? Have you been fortunate enough to find yourself in that region and stopped in and had any at their source?
We love sharing our new craft beer experiences and love to hear from others.
#FNHBeer Style: LAMBIC
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