Saturday, June 10, 2006

LAMBICS AREN’T REALLY BEERS, ARE THEY?

I’ve already blabbed on enough in this forum about this “beer class” I took last year that was the likely impetus for my deeper forays into the world of beer criticism – before that I had simply beer an active fan of good, strong beer. This class I took featured many a tasting of various style from around the globe, and was my first entrée into the crazy world of the Lambic ale. Now lambics have been gaining a great deal of attention of late – to wit, this New York Times article -- but I remain unconvinced that they are anything more than dressed-up 1980s-style wine coolers with beer properties. At least that’s what LINDEMANS FRAMBOISE LAMBIC, tasted last Sunday, reminded me of. (Please note that my ignoramus pose in this post is at least half just that – a pose). I mean, it’s good stuff, and I had mine with a mega slice of strawberry pie and heaping helping of vanilla ice cream – just that if you told me that it was a Rasberry Italian Soda I would not have argued. The girls – I mean the ladies – in the house were not complaining one bit, and this was one drink that everyone could definitely rally around. But what does it have to do with the world of specialty craft beer? Well, read the article linked above – it’s all there, I’m just not sure I buy it. Oh, and the Lindeman’s brand is said to artificially sweeten their lambics a bit, so it can rightly be argued that there’s no way I can base an opinion of lambic ales of just this one brand (my beer class served the Lindeman’s Cherry version, which the Belgians call “Kriek” for some reason). I’d love to hear from lambic lovers the world over about this style and whether or not it fits your personal definition of what “beer” is.

4 comments:

CT said...

We have this on tap at our family-owned lounge. We sell tons of it. I like to pour a glass of any pale or pilsner 3/4 full, then top it off with Frambiose. For some reason, everbody orders it by calling it "rasberry beer". So maybe that answers your question. I kind of always lumped it in with ciders and whatnot.


ct

Anonymous said...

Here's a decent article from the perspective of someone else who's new to lambic. I don't know too much about them myself - though I do know that some of them are REALLY sour. I did battle with a glass of sour lambic a few weeks ago & I'm still not sure who won!

Here's the article:

http://thepour.blogs.nytimes.com/?p=23

scott

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, right, I linked another article written by the same guy - Erik Asimov. Forget that last comment. I probably shouldn't be thinking about lambic at 9:00 AM anyway!

scott

tom said...

Lambic’s a pretty confusing term. There’s a rather big difference between fruit flavored lambic (fruit beer, mostly “kriek” or “framboise”) and geuze lambic (simply called “geuze”), which is a blend of different lambics of various ages, and a pretty radical brew with no friendly fruit tastes whatsoever. As for the fruit beer, avoid the commercial, sweetened stuff. If you want the real deal, try the kriek from Cantillon, which is indeed very sour, but tastes great – should be on every beer lover’s want list. Cantillon also produces the best geuze around, the 100% organic “bio” variety – drink it chilled in champagne flute glasses – yummy. The Cantillon geuze has a lower alcohol percentage than the geuze Mort Subite and geuze Boon, which are two other great picks. All geuzes sort of have their own particular taste. I don't think I've ever had a Lindemans geuze or fruit beer, but I know they're a highly regarded brewery as well. Both traditional kriek and good geuze are an acquired taste, that’s for sure. The most frequent kriek and geuze in Belgium are the commercial, sweetened varieties of the Inbev owned Bellevue brewery. They taste okay, but pale in comparison to the really good ones. The framboise beer is also quite common in Belgium, but that peach beer that seems to do pretty well in the States seems rather exotic to me. ”Kriek”, by the way, is pronounced “creek”, but with a shorter /ee/, and means "cherry" (who could've guessed). The Cantillon brewery also has a pretty great website in English (www.cantillon.be).