Lambic

  • Belgium
  • Mixed Ferm
  • ABV = 5.0 – 6.5%
  • IBU = 0-10
  • SRM = 3-7
A sour, spontaneously fermented Belgian wheat beer traditionally served uncarbonated around 6 months of age. The base for fruit lambic and gueuze.

Lambic is traditionally served young (6 months) and uncarbonated from pitchers, while Gueuze is further aged, bottled and very highly carbonated. Less complex than gueuze, as Brett character often takes upwards of a year to develop.

Appearance:

  • Colour = Pale yellow to deep gold (darkens with age)
  • Clarity = Hazy to good (improves with age)

Key Aromas & Flavours:

Aroma
  • Malt = None
  • Yeast + Bacteria = High; lactic acidity / Low to moderate; fruity esters (grapefruit when young; apple, honey with age) / None to moderate; barnyard character (earthy, goaty, hay and horse blanket)
  • Hops = None
  • Other = With age, sourness comes more into balance with barnyard character
Flavour
  • Malt = Low; bready-grainy
  • Yeast + Bacteria = High; lactic acidity / Low to moderate; fruity esters (grapefruit when young; apple, honey, rhubarb with age) / None to moderate; barnyard character (earthy, goaty, hay and horse blanket)
  • Hops = None
  • Perceived Bitterness^ = None to low; generally undetectable
  • Other = With age, sourness comes more into balance with malt, wheat and barnyard character
  • Balance = Towards the acidity; sourness provides the balance instead of hop bitterness
Aftertaste/Finish

Dry finish

Mouthfeel:

  • Body = Light
  • Carbonation = Traditionally served uncarbonated; up to moderate, if bottled
  • Astringency = Medium to high tart, puckering quality without being sharply astringent

Characteristic Ingredients/Processes:

  • Malt = Pilsner malt, plus 30-40% unmalted wheat
  • Yeast + Bacteria = Spontaneously fermented
  • Hops = Aged continental hop varietals (3+ years); for preservation, not bitterness
  • Process = Spontaneously fermented with naturally occurring yeast and bacteria in predominately oaken barrels. (The barrels used are neutral with little oak character.)

Historical Development:

Spontaneously fermented beer from the area in and around Brussels (the Senne Valley) stemming from a farmhouse brewing and blending tradition several centuries old.

Straight lambics are single-batch, unblended beers. Since they are unblended, the straight lambic is often a true product of the “house character” of a brewery and will be more variable than a gueuze. They are generally served young (6 months) and on tap as cheap, easy-drinking beers without any filling carbonation. Since the wild yeast and bacteria will ferment ALL sugars, they are typically bottled only when they have completely fermented.


Commercial Examples:

Belgium = Cantillon Grand Cru Bruocsella (bottled); Boon, Drie Fonteinen (available on draught in specialty cafes in Brussels)


Sourced from the BJCP 2015 Style Guidelines.


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