Lambic & Geuze
Pajottenland in Belgium, located southwest of Brussels. Origin of one, indeed perhaps the original beer style of all: Lambic. With its unique wild yeasts and microorganisms, it is the epicenter of this incredibly diverse and storied beer style. Spontaneously fermented beer has been brewed in this region for centuries. This means that no yeast is added to the beer wort; instead, the beer is fermented with wild yeasts from the surrounding area.
Lambic: The production
The malt pour for a lambic must contain at least 30% wheat. This was stated, among other things, in royal decrees. Historically, the wheat content in a lambic was even much higher. Aged hops are also important. Since large quantities of fresh hops would make the beer too bitter, the hops are sometimes stored in breweries for years. This is because, despite aging, they retain their bacteriostatic properties, which are essential for the production of beer.
After the boiling process, the beer wort is pumped into a so-called koelship (cooling vessel), a large open flat tub made of metal. The koelship is a key component in the production of Lambic: First, it allows the wort to cool down more quickly because a larger surface area is exposed to cool air. Second, the open design allows the desired wild yeasts and microorganisms to lay down on the wort, creating the foundation for subsequent fermentation in the wooden barrels. This process can only take place in winter, as the low temperatures minimize undesirable effects on the beer.
Traditionally, Lambic (or Lambik in Dutch spelling) is stored in wooden barrels for several - usually 1-3 years - to ferment. Typical of these barrels or foeder is their pre-fermentation with red wine.
Geuze: The Blend
A Geuze (French spelling: Gueuze) is a blend of lambic of different ages, classically a blend of 1,2 and 3 years. The blending process is considered the supreme discipline. Many producers of Geuze do not make lambic themselves, but buy it from lambic breweries, so they focus exclusively on blending Geuze. The combination of different Lambic vintages significantly shapes the taste of the final product. Lambic and Geuze are bottled in champagne bottles, where they undergo a second fermentation process. This is also how the fine sparkling carbonic acid is created.
What does Lambic & Geuze taste like?
The taste of the final product is incredibly exciting and complex: the spontaneous fermentation and the interaction of the many microorganisms such as lactic acid bacteria and acetic bacteria give the beer a distinctive acidity. The aroma and flavor profile ranges from vinegar, citrus and wood to hay, flowers, apples, leather, earth or honey.
Aging on fruit gives Lambics a completely different character: cherries (Kriek) and raspberries (Framboise) are classic, but modern blends also add strawberries, grapes, plums or peaches. These beers impress with their intense fruit character.
Lambic & Geuze: Liquid Belgian beer tradition
Lambic brewers have always been artisans and part of the agricultural value chain in Belgium. The use of local fruits for beer is proof of this connection. And this way of brewing is one of the oldest known brewing techniques in the world. To this day, Lambic is an omnipresent part of Belgian culture. That's because this beer style has been and continues to be widespread - on the menus of beer cafés, restaurants and bars.
In particular, the role of the classic beer café can hardly be overestimated. For these were the central places for the distribution of Lambic and Geuze. Some even blended their own Lambic. They also popularized styles such as Kriek, Framboise or Faro (lambic with rock candy). What's more, some of the lambic breweries still active today originated in such beer cafés, such as 3 Fonteinen.
Today, high-end gastronomy is also discovering the potential of these traditional beer styles. Not only in Belgium, but worldwide, Lambic and Geuze are becoming part of menu sequences and food pairings. The production of Lambic is also similar to that of Natural Wine. Both products therefore offer points of contact and overlap that create great synergies in terms of food pairing.
Whether from Tilquin, Lindemans, Boon or 3 Fonteinen: At Beyond Beer you will find the best fruit Lambic, the most extraordinary blends and the right Geuze for every occasion!