Beer 101: What is lambic?

2 mins read

Lambic is a unique style of beer produced only in a small region in Belgium. The primary characteristics of lamic are:

  • Yeast is not added directly to the wort. The vats are left open and wild yeast, which is unique the region, is allowed to fall into the vats naturally. This process is called spontaneous fermentation.
  • It is typically very dry with a sour aftertaste.
  • A mixture of wheat and barley is used in the wort.

Random facts about lager:

  • It is only brewed in the Senne Valley region of Belgium.
  • Most lambics are a blend of an one-year-old and two- to three-year-old lambic. This helps preserve a brewer’s distinctive flavor from year to year.
  • The name “lambic” comes from “Lembeek,” which is a town near Brussels.

There are several different kinds of lambic:

  • Lambic (pure) – Unblended lambic is a cloudy, uncarbonated, bracingly sour beverage available on tap in only a few locations. Generally three years old. A bottled offering from Cantillon named Grand Cru Bruocsella can be found outside of Belgium.
  • Gueuze -A mixture of young (one-year) and old (two and three-year) lambics which has been bottled. It undergoes secondary fermentation, producing carbonation, because the young lambics are not yet fully fermented.
  • Mars – Traditionally referred to a weaker beer made from the second runnings of a lambic brewing. It is no longer commercially produced.
  • Faro – A low-alcohol, slightly sweet table beer made from lambic to which brown sugar has been added. It is an unblended three-year-old lambic and is usually sold on tap.
  • Fruit -Lambic with the addition of either whole fruit or fruit syrup.

Here is a nice diagram of all beer types arranged in a sort of family tree. Michael Jackson also has a decent beer styles section on his Beer Hunter site.

Beer 101 is an ongoing series intended to help the average beer drinker learn more about the mystical beverage we call beer. If there is a topic you would like covered in Beer 101, leave a comment, visit the contact page.

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