What is a Lambic ?
Straight lambic are unblended—in contrast with Gueuze or Fruity Lambics, and are more variable in character. They are usually served as an in-house drink, with little or no carbonation. Younger versions are less complex, as Lambic character is not fully developed before a year. Young examples have a lactic-sour flavour, while more mature ones tend to be more ballanced. There is no hop character at all. Aroma is also sour and sometimes fruity, and finish is always dry.
History of Lambic
Lambic is a style of beer that is just brewed in an area around Brussels—Pajottenland, in the Senne Valley—as Lambic beer is fermented with wild yeasts that are only present in that area. The world lambic comes from allambique, as that is the first written reference to Lambic beers in 1794, being later referred as lambicq or alembic. It was often brewed with old hops, that were not used for the flavour, but in order to guarantee its conservation. Lambic comes from a tradition that stems from the 12th century, as each farm in the valley used to have their own blend of beer.
Gueuze Lambic is a variety of Lambic, traditionally produced by mixing blends of one, two and three year old lambics in the same bottle. While the young Lambic contributes with the sugar for the fermentation, the old Lambic gives the sour and wild character of aged Lambic. Another difference with normal Lambics is that Gueuze is served carbonated. Finally, the mixture of blends give them a more complex character, being the oude and ville gueuzes considered as the more traditional examples.
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Fruity Lambic is a variety of Lambic often produced like Gueuze Lambic—by mixin one, two and three year old Lambics in the same bottle. Fruit is added halfway the aging process, so the yeast and the bacteria can ferment all the sugars from the fruit. Most traditional styles of fruit lambic are kriek (with cherries), framboise (with raspberries) and druivenlambik (with muscat grapes). The flavour of the fruit should be evident, coming in hand with a sour flavour. When young, the beer preserves its fruity taste, but when aged the lambic character becames more dominant.
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