Lambic is a very unique style of beer that is only produced in a very small region of Belgium. The name Lambic comes from the name Lembeek which is a town near Brussels. While most commercial beers are made with carefully selected strains of yeast, brewers of Lambic beer tend to leave things up to chance. This gives Lambic beer its distinct qualities and makes every single bottle unique.
Belgian Lambic beer is left in open vats where wild yeast and bacteria are encouraged to take up residence. In fact yeast is never added directly to the wort. Instead wild yeast that is unique to the region is simply allowed to fall into the vats in a process known as spontaneous fermentation.
After fermentation has begun the beer is stored in barrels and allowed to age for up to three years. The resulting beer is distinctly sour with very mild carbonation and a cloudy appearance. To balance out the sour taste and add complexity to the beer, many Lambic beers are fermented with fruits such as raspberries, apricots and grapes. In order to preserve a brewer’s distinctive Lambic beer flavor year after year, most Lambic beers are made from a blend of one, two and three year old Lambic.
It would be impossible to define the exact mix of wild yeasts and bacteria that are used to ferment Lambic beer since it varies so widely from batch to batch. The other ingredients in Lambic beer are much more precise but just as interesting. Much like other Belgian ales, Lambic beer contains a minimal amount of un-malted wheat. This provides a little heft to the body of the beer. The hops used to make Lambic beer are stale. Stale hops lose the common traits of the herb but retain its qualities as a preservative. This is the reason why there is almost no detectable taste from the hops in Lambic beers.
There are many different types of Lambic beer including:
Lambic beer is a seasonal delicacy that is produced only in the winter and spring. During the fall and summer the weather is much too warm to produce Lambic beer as potentially harmful organisms that enjoy the warmer weather could damage the beer. Traditionally, Lambic beer is fermented during the summer and poured off for maturation during the fall.
Wetten Importers is one of the largest importers of European ultra-premium beers in the United States. They partner with some of the oldest and more traditional breweries in Belgium and Austria to provide American consumers with only the highest quality products. For more information please contact them today.