The birth of lambic
Fermentation
Lambic, an unique beer in many ways
The Secrets of Lambic

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Lambic is a beer with an old tradition: accounts dating from 1559 mention the production of Lambic "according to an old recipe". It is a 30% wheat, 70% malt spontaneous fermented beer seasoned with hops.

This wheaten beer can only be brewed in the southwest of Brussels, because of the presence of specific wild yeast like "Brettanomyces Bruxullensis" and "Brettanomyces Lambicus".

Lambic can be drunk direct from the barrel, but usually it is used as base for the 6 other beers (Geuze, Faro, Kriek, Framboise, Pecheresse and Cassis).

The very old brewing procedure is as follows:

1. A batter (mash) of water, malt and at least 30% wheat is made at 45°C. At this temperature the malt releases his first soluble elements, under which the most important: proteins.

2. The second step is to warm up this brew to 52°C. By this, the proteases break off the malt flour, through which we obtain an optimal solution of proteins. This white turbid extract is called "the milk" or "the slime".

3. By increasing the temperature of the slime to 65°C - 75°C, the enzymatic conversion of starch into sugar is taking place.

4. After filtration of this solution, we obtain an extract of sugars, proteins and minerals, which is called "the wort". This extract is seasoned by dried hops (600g/l) and boiled for four or five hours.

5. At this point, the brewing process is complete, and fermentation -the seething riot of chemical and bacterial reactions that actually creates the lambic- begins. It starts with lambic's signature event, unique in all of beer making: the pumping of the hot wort into open, shallow cooling vessels (also called a tun) in the attic of the brewery. The brewer throws open vented windows, turns on fans and leaves the liquid overnight to cool and be inoculated by the yeast and other microbial flora, of the surrounding air. This exposure to the air is called pitching. The local conditions are of fundamental importance in pitching. Not only does spontaneous fermentation of wort takes place consistently only in a small area around Brussels, but it does so only from October until April, when outside temperatures remain under 15°C. Some seemingly minute conditions that could affect the balance of microbial flora and the growth rate of the microorganisms would also affect the fermentation sequence and, therefore, the final product.

6. Next day, the inoculated wort is pumped into oaken barrels or with wood treated tanks where the fermentation and maturation can start.

Fermentation


After a few days, depending on the weather, the principle fermentation starts. White foam appears on the upper hole of the barrel. Later, the foam becomes brown and forms a natural stopper, which preserves the beer for external factors, like undesirable bacteria and oxygen, but the CO2, released by fermentation, can escape. During this period, the wild yeast convert the sugars slowly into alcohol and flavour components. After several weeks, the principle fermentation is passing on to a 2th fermentation and further to other smaller fermentations and finally there is the maturation of Lambic, which can be take up 1 or 2 years.

Lambic, an unique beer in many ways.


The most typical differences between the brewing process of a conventional lager beer and Lambic are the following:
* To brew a spontaneous fermented Lambic, no yeast is artificial added to the wort, but the wort is exposed to the open air. The result of this method is that wild yeast cells, which are always in the open air in the environment of Brussels, come into the wort and start on a natural, spontaneous way the fermentation. This is the reason way this method is called "spontaneous fermentation".

* More than 30% unmalted wheat is utilized, this is in contrast to lager beers, where maize or rice is used.

 

* The Lambic brewer uses old dry hop. He doesn't want the bitterness of the fresh hop, but the conservation property of the dried hop. The lager brewer uses young hop, which has that typical bitter taste.

* Due to the spontaneous fermentation, Lambic is a seasonal beer, which can be brewed only in the winter-season (October - May). In summertime, there are too much undesirable bacteria, which can come into the wort and influence negatively the fermentation.
 

 


Geuze

Nowadays, Lambic on draught is hard to find. Only in a few pubs in and around Brussels you still can taste the curious sherry-like flavoured beer. Nevertheless, since 1880, Lambic was bottled to simplify transport but also for conservation properties. This method was the birth of Geuze: Before the bottling of the Geuze, a blend is made of 2/3 young Lambic and 1/3 old Lambic. The right ratio young/old is depending on the maturation degree (end attenuation) of each of them. The bottles, with the wild-spontaneous yeast flora, are refermented in the cellar (Method Champenoise).Geuze Nowadays, Lambic on draught is hard to find. Only in a few pubs in and around Brussels you still can taste the curious sherry-like flavoured beer. Nevertheless, since 1880, Lambic was bottled to simplify transport but also for conservation properties. This method was the birth of Geuze: Before the bottling of the Geuze, a blend is made of 2/3 young Lambic and 1/3 old Lambic. The right ratio young/old is depending on the maturation degree (end attenuation) of each of them. The bottles, with the wild-spontaneous yeast flora, are refermented in the cellar (Method Champenoise).

After 6 months the Geuze obtains a golden color and a cidery, winey palate; reminiscent, perhaps, of dry vermouth with a more complex and natural flavour.

It is often served as an happy hour drink in Brussels. It is the traditional beer for carbonade, as well as a beautifully based beverage with seafood or other salty meals. It's also delicious with cream sauces. Beside the traditional Geuze (the Geuze Grand Cru "Cuvée René"), there is also a more commercial Geuze that dominate the market. It is filtered, pasteurized and has a more sweet taste.

Kriek

In origin, this sweet-acid drink was obtained by adding fresh black "Schaerbeekse" cherries to a barrel Lambic of 6 months young. The addition of fruits provokes a new fermentation in the oak barrels. After another 8 to 12 months, only peels and stones left and the Kriek-Lambic is ready to be filtered and bottled. The residual sugar can be adjusted with straight-on fruit juice to give a refermentation in the bottle. This traditional type of fruit beer is more acid and less fruity.

Because of the limited availability of fresh black cherries, just as to brew a less sour and more fruity Lambic beer, Lindemans farm brewery developed an unique natural method using pure cherry pulp from unfrozen cherries. This straight cherry juice is blended with selected Lambic of different ages. Kriek has a pink-red color and a delicious taste of sparkling cherry champagne.

Faro
A version of Belgium's "wild-fermented" wheat beer, which is the result of blending Lambic of "one summer" with old Lambic and chaptalized with candy sugar. .

Faro is an intriguing balance of wineyness and sweetness. This was probably the beer being served in Breugel's paintings of Flemish Village Life.

Faro is a delicious accompaniment of a whole assortment of desserts.

Framboise, Pecheresse and Cassis
Also those beers are developed by Lindemans brewery, using straight juice-method. The result is a fresh fruity drink with the background of the rich bouquet of Lambic.

These beers are mostly drunk as appetizer, but also with a lot of desserts. Framboise is just delicious with chocolate cake, and Pecheresse is not to be despised with pancakes, filled with ice cream.

Apple
Long before hops were common in most beers, various fruits and herbs were used to season beers. The clean, bright aroma and flavor of apples melds beautifully with the complex tartness of lambic. Smooth, light body with the fresh flavor of real apples and a light green-apple tartness. Style—Apple Lambic. Color—Glowing Gold. Perfect with rich cream sauces, hearty soups, aromatic cheeses and spicy cuisine - supremely refreshing. Serve in flute-shaped Lambic glasses at 38-41 degrees F.

Tea Beer (1995 - 2010)
This beer was a well-balanced blend of a traditional spontaneous fermented Lambic with selected tea infusions and a sparkle of lemon juice which resulted in a refreshing beer with a surprising "sweet-sour" lemon taste.

 

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