Sunday, 15 January 2012
A Lambic Odyssey
Many beers describe themselves as Lambic. Most that reach the export market have been sweetened to increase the appeal and popularity. Classic examples being Lindemans and Mort Subite. The purest and most traditional form of lambic has virtually no sugar in at all (having been entirely consumed by the yeast) and is incredibly tart and sour - a definite acquired taste. Unlike most beers, old hops are deliberately used to avoid imparting any flavour, and solely for their preservative properties. Lambic is perceived by some to more closely resemble cider than beer.
What makes Lambic beer so special is the yeast. Most breweries preserve a pure strain of their yeast in an off site yeast bank, to allow generation of new yeast for fermentation and a consistent brew every time. Lambic beer is produced using wild yeast. Samples of Cantillon beer have revealed over 60 different strains of yeast in a single bottle. The production of lambic beer is therefore unlike any other.
The cooling tank (above) is where the magic happens. This large flat vessel is where the near boiling wort is pumped to for cooling. Boiling has at this point destroyed any organisms that may have been present in the beer thus far. The sterile liquid is now exposed to the air overnight whilst it cools.
The brewery must therefore ensure a good "infection" of the wort. There are holes in the roof to encourage circulation of air. The wood from which the brewery is built is the natural breeding ground for the yeast. If repairs need to be undertaken to the brewery, only a small amount of wood can be removed at a time to ensure this unique "yeast bank" is not depleted. Furthermore, brewing can only take place in the winter months to ensure that the wort cools to a level where the wild yeast can survive but bacteria (that would spoil the beer) cannot - around -5 to +5 oC.
GEUZE: Cantillon (obviously), Tilquin, Oud Beersel
BRUNE: Bourgogne des Flandres Brunes
Posted by Fuggles at 21:03