April 4, 2012

The "American Lambic"

The beer I make follows the traditional lambic process in every way possible without actually being located in Belgium. As Americans we want to be able to classify every beer into a style category. If one was to try classifying my beer, they may find the lambic category a more accurate title than the generic "AWA".

Some view lambic as more than a word to describe a style, but a hallowed Belgian product. Why it is so holy, and how it became sanctified, I do not understand. Many claim terroir, the history, or a unique microflora, but I have found those claims have little base in reality or the modern production of lambic within Belgium.

Part of me wants to believe that lambic is a sacred term. I don't like that Lindemans/Timmermans/Mort Subite uses it on their pasteurized, back-sweetened, fruit syrup, ersatz "lambic". I wouldn't categorize that stuff as lambic, but that is because I don't like their production method for those beers. I'm disappointed that there hasn't been more done to protect the term within Belgium.

In an attempt to half avoid the issue, half to show respect, I try not to use the term "lambic". I will use the term "lambic-style" or "American Lambic" when asked to classify the beer, because that is how I would classify it. Its much easier than saying "Spontaneously fermented ale brewed in Wisconsin following the traditional methods of Belgian lambic brewers".

Call it what you want. Classify it as you see fit. I don't really care as long as you enjoy it and understand how it was made.


Anonymous said...

In my opinion, semantics aren't as important as the quality and diversity of the beers being produced now in the US. Call it what you will, but the progression of these styles in the US will continue to progress at a rate that is faster than that of any other country in the world, including Belgium.

Don said...

I'd go with American Lambic. To me a Lambic is a historic beer made in a place using historic yeast. When Allagash, or Russian River with their Beatification beer, make a spontaniously fermented beer they use local wild yeasts. So when you make wild beers in america, you should say American Lambic.

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