It’s almost Valentine’s Day and the time has come to declare your love and appreciation for that someone special. For that rare and cherished someone, why not give the gift of a rare Lambic beer?Authentic Lambic beer is a unique form of beer, quite different from modern ales and lagers. They are produced only in the Senne River Valley region of Belgium near Brussels, a region about 15 by 75 miles in size.
The Co-op offers Lindemans’ Kriek (Cherry) Lambic, Framboise (Raspberry) Lambic and Peche (Peach) Lambic. The Lindemans family has been farming and homebrewing in the quiet southern Belgian town of Vlezenbeek for as long as anyone can remember. They began commercial brewing in 1822.
Lambic beers are unusual because they are spontaneously fermented with wild, naturally occurring airborne yeast and bacteria that reside on the fruit and equipment used in brewing, such as natural oak barrels for aging. Because of the delicate balance of brewing this wild fermented beer, such as the air exposure, Lambics are only made seasonally, from October to April, to reduce the likelihood of undesirable bacteria. From start to finish, most Lambic beer is made in a two-year-long process.
These special beers are created under conditions that stand in sharp contrast to many modern breweries’ use of pure, laboratory-raised strains of brewing yeast and heavily sanitized brewing conditions in order to prevent microbial contamination. They are made with oxidized hops that have been aged for three or more years. Unlike the green, unoxidized hops that are used to make conventional beers, oxidized hops do not add much bitterness or hop character, and are used instead for their natural preservative properties.
The original Lambic beer, Kriek Lambic, is made by adding fresh black “Schaerbeekse” cherry pulp to a 6 month old barrel of Lambic. The addition of fruit provokes a new fermentation that lasts another 8 to 12 months. Lambic Kriek has a pink-red color and the delicious taste of sparkling cherry champagne.
As a result of this time-honored tradition, Lambic beers develop fabulous flavors that are unmatched in the world of brewing. Treat your sweetie to a delicious sweet treat. Be adventurous and mix your Lambic with a Rogue Chocolate Stout for a tasty blend of sparkling fruit and rich, decadent chocolate flavors. Happy Valentine’s Day!
Claire Harlock Garber loves to eat and drink and write about it. She has worked in the food industry for nearly a decade and was on staff at the Skagit Valley Co-op from 2010-2018, writing the regular columns Skagit Brew Corner, The Cheese Whisperer, The Bounty of Bulk, and What's Dippin' in the Well for the Co-op's blog, as well as articles for the Natural Enquirer newsletter.