At one time in history, all beer was sour and spontaneously fermented which gave a tart flavor to the finished beer. These Belgian Fruit Lambics are a great way to experience a tart beer with added intense fruit character. Belgian Fruit Lambics are produced mainly in Brussels and to the south and west of the city. Lambics are fermented in open vessels which utilize the wild yeast in that specific area. These Belgian brewers have a long tradition of adding fresh local fruit to their Lambics from the farms around them.
Every year these Belgian brewers await the fruit harvest and use different fruits in producing their Fruit Lambics. These Lambics are infused with sour cherries (Kriek Lambic), raspberries (Framboise), Peaches (Peche), and black currant (Cassis). These beers are first spontaneously fermented which could take up to four months and then aged anywhere from one to four years, sometimes in oak barrels. The brewers will also blend young and old Lambics to get their desired flavor profile. At this point the brewers will add the fresh fruit and steep it in the Lambic for anywhere between 3 – 12 months. During this time the Lambic goes through a second fermentation and will develop intense fruit flavor.
Great Lambics take a lot of time and effort to produce but the results are well worth it. Lambics are incredibly complex and resemble the wine making process in the production time, blending, and oak aging. These beers are much sought after and offer amazing fruit flavors with some tartness. There are some American breweries that are brewing Belgian inspired Lambic-style beers such as Beechwood Blendary in Long Beach which is a must visit. Experience the hard work that goes into creating these fruit Lambics and enjoy the complexities of these beers. Cheers!
Rob McFerren is the owner of Wolf Creek Restaurant & Brewing Co.