Seeing as how we are about to drink a Pomme lambic, I thought that this would be as good a time as any to write about lambic as a style. This style of beer is truly an achievement. In this post, I’m going to tell you what a lambic is all about, and this will help you to understand why it costs what it does. For a little more about the factors that make beers more expensive click this link (it’s an article on our site).
Let’s get one thing straight to begin with, lambic is the type of beer, and Framboise, Pomme, Cassis and the like are appellations added to tell you what fruit was added to the lambic. There is a good amount of area to cover, so let’s get going.
Lambic, as is the case with many beers, was given its moniker because its origin was the town of Lembeek in Belgium. There is essentially a 15-square-mile area (near Brussels) where wild yeasts and bacteria are optimal (and unique) for this style to exist. The yeast and bacteria fall into traditional wooden fermentation vessels (open for the yeast to infiltrate) and sour this beer. It usually contains 30 to 40% raw wheat, which probably accounts for the cloudiness of the beer. The beer must contain at least 30% wheat by law. Typically the beer is very lightly hopped (the hops are also intentionally staled), citrusy, and cloudy. As far as the hops go, they are often intentionally staled and years old (aged intentionally at room temp). This is only the first stage.
The beers are moved and stored up to three years in wooden vessels, which also add character and desirable micro-organisms to the Belgian Ale. Various things are done after the beers have or are aging, which give the beer its various names or styles.
It is not often that you find a true lambic with nothing added. I have personally not tried one…yet. However, let’s talk about the various beers that you come across under the name of lambic. First, there are the various fruit versions of the beer, which have had fruit added during the brewing process (usually at the end). Framboise is a raspberry lambic, peche is peach, cassis is black currant, pomme is apple and kriek is cherry. The fruit is tremendously evident in all these. Fruit lambics are a mixture of a sour tartness and dessert sweetness. They are half champagne and half beer in approach. I personally think they are utterly delightful. There are other version that have the almost complete attenuation of the fruit sugars, making the beer more tart, dry, and interesting. I prefer the fruit-in-the-back versions.
Gueze is another Lambic that you will find. A Gueze mixes and old and new lambic and is not flavored, so you are coming closer to the real deal. The last to mention is Faro, which combines a strong alcohol and low alcohol lambic and then adds dose of sugar. Faro is the sweetest of the three.
There is a lot that goes into a beer like this, which is why it is so rewarding to drink. A 12-ounce bottle can be $6-8, but it is worth it. I don’t know how many women that “don’t like beer” love this one. It’s sort of my default recommendation for someone to try, if for no other reason, to show them how wild the world of beer can be. I don’t know if there is a more unique, soft, dry, intruiging or odd beer in the world. It’s been called the world’s most refreshing beer and the champagne of beers. You’ve got to try one.