Lindeman’s Lambic (Like the beer, not wine :)
Southwest of Brussels, in the quiet Belgian town of Vlezenbeek, the Lindemans family has been farming and homebrewing as long as anyone can remember. Commercial brewing started in 1811.
Lambic, or spontaneously fermented beers, are the beers of this region and are among the world’s rarest: they are the only beers fermented via wild, airborne yeast – no yeast is added by the brewers. The unusual, demanding, and unique flavors that come from multiple yeast strains are unmatched in the world of beer.
Merchant du Vin introduced Lindemans lambics to the United States in 1979, making them the first lambics marketed in U. S. history. To this day, they are the best selling brand in the category.
The romantic, mysterious, wild-fermented wheat beers of Belgium’s Flanders are among the world’s rarest beers. The unique natural combination of the Senne River valley; small hills with numerous cherry trees; small farms growing hops, barley and wheat; and a mild climate has given the region an air-disseminated microflora that has seeded farm breweries for more than 500 years.
The mashing process is somewhat similar to other styles, but up to 30 percent unmalted wheat is added to the malted barley in the grist. Mashing is slow, involving liquid transfer, and is known as a “turbid mash.” And whereas most brewers use the freshest hops during the boil, lambic brewers use aged hops to contribute preservative properties without the bitterness of the herb (this protection is important to the final product, since it is such a long process from start to finish). Singularly, in the world of brewing, no yeast is added to this beer. After the boil, lambic wort is transferred into a coolship (a large, shallow vessel) that exposes the hot wort to the cool fresh air and wild yeast! Outside air – laden with floating wild yeast cells, in a natural balance – can enter the coolship rooms via louvers in the walls.
The beer is top-fermented by multiple wild yeast strains, including Brettanomyces bruxellensis and Brettanomyces lambicus; most ales use the cultivated yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
After fermentation, the beer is transferred into fermenting vessels for two summers of maturation. A second, slower fermentation takes place here, influenced by oak, either in an oak cask or in steel with oak chips added. After aging, the base lambic is treated in different ways to make different beers.
Without question, lambic is the world’s most unusual and some say best beer. Lambic is unique in that the brewing process often takes several years. Lambics are a complex family of beers, which include dry aperitif beers, full-bodied dinner beers and fruity dessert beers.
For gueuze, the base lambic is blended to make a distinct, wine-like drink that is traditionally served with the meal (a blend of 1/3 young lambic and 2/3 old lambic). Gueuze is known to mature beautifully, and stories abound of discovering age-old gueuze lambics that had matured to perfection.
Lindemans, which originally made only traditional unfiltered gueuze, switched to the filtered version because it is quicker to make. Realizing that there were almost no traditional gueuzes being produced, Merchant du Vin convinced René Lindemans, Head Brewer, to discontinue the filtered version and concentrate only on the finest traditional bottle-conditioned product. Cuvée René was born. It is a golden turbid wine-like beer that balances a malty fruit and a complex yeasty acidity with exceptional finesse. Cuvee Rene is a blend of lambics of various ages and is destined to be the standard by which gueuze is judged.
Fruit Lambics Simplified
Nowadays lambic fruit beers are extremely popular. The first fruit beers were made with sour cherries growing in villages around Brussels. The most famous in Schaarbeek, which gave its name to the best variety. In the 1930s different farm breweries restarted brewing kriek by adding crushed cherries to young lambic in the casks.
Artisanal lambic breweries, such as Lindemans Farm Brewery, make their fruit beers by blending the lambic and fresh fruit before bottling producing Kriek (cherry), Framboise (raspberry), and Pêche (peach). Because of the limited availability of the “Schaerbeekse Cherries”, just as to brew a less sour and more fruity Lambic beer, Lindemans Brewery developed an unique natural method using pure cherry juice from unfrozen cherries to produce Lindemans Kriek. This straight cherry juice is blended with selected Lambic of different ages.