December 1, 2011

What is Lambic?

It's beer, but...

Its flavor is funky and sour.
It has the body of champagne.
It has the complexity of wine.
It has big flavor, but relatively little alcohol.

It is not brewed with cultivated yeast, but fermented with what is found naturally in the air.
It relies on the addition of Brettanomyces and Bacteria instead of only Saccharomyces.

It requires years to make instead of weeks.
It is newly popular, but is the oldest style of beer.

It is the anomaly of beer.

There is some debate as to what is required to make "true" lambic.  My personal definition/standard for anything I call lambic is based on Cantillon's definition:

Any lambic I brew or source will consist of 30-40% unmalted wheat, 70-60% barley, hops aged at a minimum of 1 year (prefer 3+ years), and will undergo a turbid mash with a extended boil.

A Coolship is used in a location/season where ambient air’s average low is below 45°F to expose the wort to open air.  This allows the wort to cool naturally overnight to at least 70°F before going into barrels.

Lambic will be fermented and aged on sediment and always in a wooden barrel.

No pasteurization or preservatives will be used. No artificial sweetener or any sugars will be added to sweeten the final beer. No artificial flavoring or coloring will be used.

Lambic will be aged at least 6 months prior to bottling unblended or fruited lambic. If it is bottled before aging 12 months, it will be labeled “young”. If it has aged more than 24 months, it may be called “Old”. Geuze will always be a blend of lambic with an average weighted age of at least 1 year and contain at least 25% 3 year old lambic. “Old” geuze will have an average weighted age of at least 2 years.

I will always use real fruit. No fruit syrups or concentrates will ever be used.

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