What is Lambic Beer?
Lambic beers are one of the most unique groups of beer styles to exist. They are a type of wild or sour beer and are often made with fruit. Sure to give you a gush of flavour on the first sip, be prepared for a bit of a pucker. Learn about its brewing technique, taste, history, and more!
By Emma Zhao on Jun. 24, 2022
Lambic beer is perhaps one of the oldest beers in the western world, yet it’s also one of the most polarizing ones. Some people might think that Lambic beer is one of the most creative and artisanal beers to exist, while others wouldn’t even consider it a beer.
What is a Lambic beer?
Lambic style beers are typically brewed by spontaneous fermentation; meaning the wort, or unfermented beer, is left out in open tanks to invite the microorganisms and bacteria in its surrounding environment. This is what gives Lambic beer its funky and sour flavor. This type of beer relies on the fermentation of wheats.
Technically a genuine, “True Lambic” beer can only be produced in a specific part of Belgium, which is where the Lambic beer style originated. However, western breweries may create “Lambic style” beers which imitate this same process and recipe. The completely unique brewing and fermentation process makes it one of the few beers that would be considered close to wine, and because fermentation is wild (see sour beers for more info), the flavour of each beer can vary batch to batch as different species of bacteria and yeast may flourish in each new batch.
Types of Lambic Beer
While there’s no official way to categorize different types of Lambic beer, there are some general types based on fermentation methods and taste.
This type of Lambic beer is refermented in the presence of sour cherries. It is then fermented for a second time in the bottle.
- Framboise Beer
This is essentially a Kriek that is fermented with rasberries..
- Fruit Lambic
These are Lambic beers with some added flavorings, typically fruity flavorings, such as raspberry, peach, black current, etc.
These are a mixture of a one year old and two year older Lambic beers. The secondary fermentation occurs when the younger Lambic beer makes contact with the older Lambic beer.
Faro is a sweetened Lambic beer, often with low alcohol content. It’s typically a mixture of light beers with a Lambic beer, containing brown sugar or molasses.
- Fun fact: the famous French poet, Charles Baudelaire, was famously disliked Faro Lambic beer, believing that it tasted like sewer water.
Is Lambic beer an ale or a lager?
Lambic beers are ales, more specifically, Belgian ales. However, unlike Belgian ales, Lambic beers do not rely on type of yeasts that a brewer would typically add to most other beers.
What Makes a Beer Lambic?
As we’ve established, although Lambic beers are loosely ales, they are still brewed differently. Instead of using yeasts, it relies on wild wheats and macrobacteria from its environment to replace the yeast.
Essential Style Information of Lambic Beer
Origin & History of Lambic Beer
Lambic beer was first brewed in the Pajottenland region of Belgium since the 13th century. Later, brewers from Brussels, which is just northeast of the region, would start to make Lambic beers as well.
The Pajottenland region is an extremely fertile portion of land situated between two rivers, the Senne and Dendre. This region still remains the principal area where “True Lambic” beer is made.
Golden to amber color, high carbonation, hazy.
Lambic Beer ABV (Alcohol Content)
Four to eight per cent.
Aroma, Flavor, Palate & Mouthfeel
Infamous for its sour, funky, and tart flavor, complimented with fruity undertones. Lambic beer is generally quite dry, with astringency. If you like sour cherry blasters or warheads, you’ll really enjoy this style of beer.
How to serve a Lambic beer
Best served at cellar temperatures between 40°–50° Fahrenheit (4°–10 ° Celsius). Lambic beer can be served in a stemmed tulip glass or tumblers.
Check out your local breweries and stores to try a Lambic Beer for yourself!
Now that you’re a lambic beer expert. Learn more about other popular beer styles:
Amber, Red or Dark Ale
Amber, Red or Dark Lager
Belgian IPA or White India Pale Ale
Black or Cascadian Dark Ale
Blonde & Golden Ales
Dortmunder or Export Lager
Double or Imperial IPA
English Brown Ale
Euro Dark Lager
Fruit or Vegetable Beer
Golden or Pale Lager
Gruit or Spiced Beers
India Pale Ale (IPA)
NEIPA – New England Style IPA
Saison or Farmhouse Ale
Sour Beer or Wild Ales
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