Lambic is style of beer brewed in the vicinity of Brussels, Belgium known as Payottenland, and within the city of Brussels. The lambic style was also a traditional style to the Saxony region of Germany called Gose.
Unlike conventional ales and lagers, which are brewed using carefully cultivated strains of brewer's yeasts, Lambic beer is brewed with wild yeasts which are native to the Senne valley, where Brussels is located. These wild yeasts, some eighty-six microorganisms in all, give the beer its distinctive flavor: dry and cidery, with a slightly sour aftertaste.
Lambic is brewed from approximately 70% barley malt and 30% unmalted wheat. When the wort has cooled, it is exposed to the open air and spontaneous fermentation takes place. This is only done between October and May; in the summer months, there are too many unfavorable bacteria in the air. Aged dried hops is used, so the hop taste is not very strong.
After the fermentation process starts, the lambic is siphoned into old oak or chestnut barrels from the Porto or Jerez region of Spain. Some of the brewers prefer used wine barrels. The lambic is left to ferment and ripen up from one to two and even three years. It forms a flor of yeast that gives some protection from oxidisation, in a similar way to vin jaune and sherry; the barrels are not topped up.
Lambic beer is widely consumed in Brussels and environs.
Likewise, when you order a bier mit Schuß in the Saxony-Anhalt (Berlin) Germany of today, spend a moment to reflect on the brighter days before lager beer. Gose would have been proudly pulled from the cask. It is also frequently used for cooking in Belgian cuisine.
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Types of Lambic
- Unblended lambic is a cloudy, uncarbonated, slightly sour beverage available on tap in only a few locations. One year old.
- A mixture of young (one-year) and old (two and three-year) lambics which has been bottled. It undergoes secondary fermentation (so-called method champagnoise), producing carbon dioxide, because the young lambics are not yet fully fermented. It keeps in the bottle; a good gueuze will be given a year to referment in the bottle, but can be kept for ten to twenty years.
- A low-alcohol, slightly sweet table beer made from lambic to which caramel has been added. Unblended three-year-old lambic. Usually draught, not bottled.
- Lambic with the addition of cherry (kriek), raspberry (framboise), peach (peche), cassis or grapes either whole fruit or syrup. Usually bottled with secondary fermentation.
This is a complete list of all the current breweries.
- Belle-Vue owned by InBev
- Brasserie Cantillon
- De Keersmaeker, better known by its brand name Mort Subite
- De Troch
- Drie Fonteinen
- Oud Beersel
Tim Webb, Chris Pollard, Joris Pattyn, Lambicland, ISBN 0954778901