Monday, 29 June 2009

Lambic: The Oldest Alcoholic Tradition?

I suppose most people with an interest in beer are aware that Belgian brewing has an ancient history. Personally, until today, I was bored by Belgian beer - probably something to do with Belgo. I was therefore less than thrilled when Adam told me we were adding a Belgian Strawberry beer to the burgeoning roster at The Westbridge. (Oh, and did I mention that I am also predisposed against fruit beers?)

"But" - he protested with finality - "It's a draft Lambic Beer". I nodded sagely and scuttled off to the office to look it up on Wikipedia.

It emerges that Lambic beer is indeed interesting, with a properly precise, ancient history. Without wishing to bore on (and after all - you could look it up on Wiki) the key to it is the beer is fermented by being pumped into a large room (see picture above) where it picks up the wild yeast in the air through the slatted window openings. They have been doing this since the mid 11th Century and it may only be called lambic if it is produced in Pajottenland, a small area around Brussels.

A key characteristic of beer brewed in this style is sourness. This, historically, has been counter-acted by adding fruitjuice to sweeten the brew. Rather like the ancient West Country biker tradition known as Cider & Black.

Timmerman's Strawberry Lambic Beer is now available at The Westbridge.

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