Lambic – Introduction To A Mistique Beer

En hiver, brasse qui veut ; en été, brasse qui peut.

Lambic is a style of beer that is brewed exclusively in Belgium and it′s probably the oldest, still-used, beer style in Belgium, first references are over 400 years old. The lambic production area includes the west side of Brussels and the suburbs and surrounding countryside. It is perhaps the most unusual beer, truly made in the old-fashioned way and, unlike other beer styles, lambics have laws that define them. In 1559, a decree of the city of Hal states that ” beer must consist of 16 parts of wheat: that means 6 parts of wheat and 10 of oats and barley (62 5% of barley or 37.5% of unmalted wheat ), while in Bavaria the only cereal allowed by Reinheitsgebot (German Beer Purity Law from 1516) is barley.

During brewing old hop aged for 2 to 3 years is added. The wort is then poured into a large shallow pan cooler, generally installed under the roof. There is cooled air in over the night, where it is seeded with bacteria and Brettanomyces (wild yeast), which is characteristic to the Pajottenland and the Senne Valley. There is no added yeast, unlike the lager beers. It has a spontaneous fermentation and the process takes place usually from October to May when the wheater is too hot and the beers don′t cool down quickly enough, and the air is too rich in harmful bacteria.

Lambic beers are made as they were centuries before Pasteur, and instead of managing fermentation the lambic brewer leaves it to nature. Wild yeasts, along with almost anything else in the air, convert barley and wheat sugars into alcohol, producing fascinating beers-like sparkling wines.

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