The Wild World of Lambics with Lindemans Brewery
Beer is one of the oldest beverages in the world. With traces of the beverage found in Egyptian tombs and even laws concerning it listed in the Code of Hammurabi, beer definitely has some history behind it. Lambic beer is one of the oldest styles of beer available today that still retains much of its original taste and recipe. Lambic are a very unique style of beer that uses spontaneous fermentation to produce a dry, vinous taste that often has a tart or sour tinge of flavor to it. These beers are often low on the ABV scale and huge on taste. Lambics are definitely a unique creature, which is why few breweries can make them well, if at all.
Lindemans Brewery, based southwest of Brussels in the small town of Vlezenbeek, has been brewing lambic beers commercially since 1822. The brewers of these unique beers wasn’t first introduced to the United States however until 1979, making Lindemans the first lambic beers marketed in the US as well as the best selling still today.
What is a Lambic Beer?
So what exactly is a lambic beer? These amazing and solely unique beers are often misunderstood, mislabeled, and even mis-translated. Sometimes considered “fruity” beers or even misunderstood as champagne; lambic beers hold a unique place in beer history.
Lambic beers use wild yeast along with malted barley, un-malted wheat, and aged hops to give a truly unique beer experience that is unlike just about any other beer you’ve ever had. A common misconception about lambic beers is that they’re meant for people that don’t like “regular” beer, and while they are sweeter and flavored oftentimes with fruit, lambic beers hold a special place in our history with beer and can easily be enjoyed alongside more common beer styles, just as something very different.
Lambic beers in the past were commonly drank in place of water, so their ABV was traditionally low for this reason. Since fermentation isn’t controlled as it is with other styles of beer, ABV is commonly lower than these others as well, too.
The Lambic Beers of Lindemans Brewery
Lindemans Framboise (Raspberry)
Easily the most popular and most familiar of Lindemans lambic beers, Framboise (pronounced fram-bwa) is made with raspberries and offers a tart, semi-sour taste. Highly effervescent and sweet as well as tart, Framboise is Lindemans most popular beer for a very good reason.
ABV – 2.5%
Aroma – Sweet, fruity raspberry with some funk from the wild yeast.
Taste – Taste is dominated by the tart raspberries and followed up with a sweet middle and a tart, somewhat sour finish.
Finish – Tart raspberries with an acidic tinge. No bitterness whatsoever.
Lindemans Kriek (Cherry)
Next up in popularity is Lindemans Kriek (pronounced creek). This cherry lambic is acidic while being sweet and has a strong taste of black cherries. Lindemans uses a proprietary method for adding cherry juice from unfrozen cherries to a blend of lambic beers of various ages. The result is a pinkish-red beer that has the taste of sparkling cherry champagne while still keeping the funky, acidic taste that lambics are known for.
ABV – 3.5%
Aroma – A strong smell of cherries is on the front of the aroma along with some malty sweetness and a slightly funky back.
Taste – as expected, cherries dominate this beer’s taste, in a very good way. The middle is very sweet and effervescent with an acidic end.
Finish – Lindemans Kriek finishes with an acidic aftertaste that’s paired with sweet cherries. This taste, combined with the maltiness of this beer, give it an amazingly refreshing taste and makes it an all around great beer, especially for warm weather.
Lindemans Peche (Peach)
In keeping with the fruity lambics, Peche (pronounced pesh), or Peach to us in the US is golden in color and screams fresh peach from the moment you remove the cork. Crisp, slightly tart, and full of peach flavor, this beer still holds true to the lambic style while giving amazingly true-to-life peach flavor.
ABV – 2.5%
Aroma – Strong aroma of sweet peaches dominates the first smell, but after that traces of yeast and some slight malt can be found, too.
Taste – The strong aroma of this beer has nothing on the taste. Huge peach flavor that’s balanced out with the acidic funkiness of a lambic beer. Behind the peach taste are traces of tangerine and malt as well.
Finish – Peche finishes with a clean, sweet taste that leaves a remnant of the peach flavor. Less acidic than other lambics from Lindemans, this beer is sweet without being cloying.
Lindemans Cassis (Black Currant)
Another amazing fruit lambic from Lindemans is their Cassis (pronounced cass-ees), which is made with black currants. The currant has been used in Belgium for centuries as an ingredient in beers as well as liquors, and gives the beer a smell and taste similar to blackberries but slightly more tart.
ABV – 3.5%
Aroma – The aroma is pretty easily identified as blackberries with some less identifiable funkiness from the wild yeast in the background. This gives the beer an earthy aroma that’s underneath the strong fruit smell.
Taste – The taste is similar to the aroma with some sweetness added and a little acidic funk in the middle.
Finish – Cassis finishes with a slightly heavier mouthfeel than the other beers from Lindemans, but in a good way. The carbonation is more noticeable and you’re left with a sweet aftertaste that has a hint of blackberry to it.
Lindemans Pomme (Apple)
The last of the fruity lambics in this list, Pomme (pronounced pum) is Lindemans apple lambic beer. Smooth, with a light body and lots of green apple taste, anyone who loves apples will definitely enjoy this beer.
ABV – 3.5%
Aroma – Green apples up front with tartness you can smell. There is some funky yeast present in the aroma, but what you’re going to get most is tart apple.
Taste – Tart, acidic apples with a slightly earthy undertone. The taste is dominated by apples but the tart lambic taste comes through nicely. Apples are present but don’t rob the overall taste from the lambic.
Finish – Finish is light and tart with some lasting apple flavor. The mouthfeel is medium and somewhat acidic with a puckering effect, but overall a great experience.
Faro (pronounced fair-oh) is a sugary lambic that focuses on the sweet aspect of the beer, giving it a sweet yet complex body that’s far more than just sugar. This style of lambic beer while fairly common in and around Brussels is very uncommon in the US.
The sugar added to this beer helps to balance out the acidic tartness that is common with lambic beers while adding unique aromas and tastes like brown sugar with a crisp, refreshing finish. It’s worth noting that Lindemans Faro does not contain any of the grain farro, the name similarity being only coincidental.
ABV – 4.2%
Aroma – Sweet with a slightly sour undertone. Brown sugar or molasses can be picked up slightly as well.
Taste – The taste is focused on sweetness, but is definitely not overpowering. Slightly sour with lots of sweetness. Some funky herbal notes can be picked up on the end.
Finish – Faro finishes sweet with a lighter-than-expected mouthfeel. A hint of citrus can be detected on the finish, but not enough to warrant too much note. Overall, this is a sweet and funky beer that holds true to a style that started when a barkeep added sugar syrup to a lambic to make it more appealing for some clientele.
Lindemans Cuvee Renee (Gueuze Lambic)
In the world of lambic beers, the Gueuze is the granddaddy of them all. This type of lambic has no fruit flavors to it, but instead relies on the barley and wheat as well as the wild yeast to give it flavor. Gueuzes are blends of three different years of lambics, which are most often 1 year, 2 year, and 3-year-old beers. While the older lambic has used up its sugars completely, making it very dry, the newer lambic provides more sugars to keep the yeast active.
Gueuzes are complex and very interesting lambic beers. They offer cidery, acidic flavors that are definitely great and still retain some sweetness from the lambic style.
ABV – 5.2%
Aroma – Slightly sour and reminiscent of champagne. Slight fruity aroma even though there is no fruit in this lambic. Yeasty and funky aromas stick to the edges, making for a very complex and appealing aroma.
Taste – Slightly acidic but not sour, the taste is similar to a dry cider without the apple tastes.
Finish – Dry and slightly puckery finish leaves you wanting another drink. The carbonation gives this beer a light mouthfeel and overall great complex taste.
Lindemans can be found on draft as well as in bottles throughout the Pittsburgh area, and is proudly distributed by Frank B. Fuhrer Wholesale.