Dear friends, with the year coming to an end and me still not having had the time to sit down and write some new, well-thought out posts, I decided to republish this piece from last December, because it mirrors what we have been drinking a lot here in Alaska: Lambics. It was also the first article on beer that I posted here…so it does have nostalgic value. Wishing you a great New Year’s Eve and, as we say in German, a “good slide into 2014”! See you next year.
“I am not really a beer drinker. I recognize its value while watching sports or also during BBQs, but otherwise I am not enjoying beer very much. Especially the oh so beloved IPAs give me the creeps. I don’t understand or appreciate their bitterness. If I have to, I go for pilsner style beers. There are some exceptions, though, beers that I really enjoy: And those are Belgian beers that have fruit added to them (a sacrilegious act for Germans!). Whatever makes beer taste less like beer makes me happy. Nina and I actually toasted to our engagement with a raspberry beer that we had in the fridge only to find out later when we looked at the label that it was a “mort subite” (sudden death, how fitting)…
Now, this is the second time I am celebrating Christmas with my wife’s family in Alaska. It is breathtakingly gorgeous and about as Christmassy as it gets: tons of snow, lots of darkness (aka tons of sleep), and crisp and clean air. Everything is very relaxed with my in laws which I also appreciate. One of the Christmas traditions is to have lambics, because my mother in law loves them. They are a type of Belgian fruit beers. The brand we get, because it is readily available, is from Lindemans Brewery in Vlezenbeek, Belgium which has been around since 1811.
Lambics are produced with spontaneous fermentation, that means unlike other beers they use the yeasts that naturally are dispersed in the air instead of cultured yeasts. Lindemans ferments the beer, then adds the fruit and starts a second fermentation. The resulting beers remind me way more of a cider than a beer (which is good for me). If you want to know more, their U.S. importers have a pretty decent website (here).
This year, we were able to have a veritable cross-tasting because we had acquired 750ml bottles of framboise (raspberry), cassis (black currant), pomme (apple), pêche (peach) and kriek (sour cherries). Up until Christmas Day, I only ever had raspberry and loved it.
The framboise lambic was as good as ever: Nicely acidic, full of that wonderfully tart raspberry aroma that I like so much.
The cassis was stunning: It really smelled as intense as the cassis liqueur that you add to sparkling wine or still white wine to make kir royal or kir. It had a wonderfully strong blackcurrant aroma which was topped by the refreshing maltiness of the beer.
The pomme was very similar to a cider, although a bit more acidic than the ciders I prefer. It was quite sour actually, but still refreshing. Not in the top for me. I would prefer a cider over this one.
The pêche was the most interesting for me. I am not a big fan of peaches, they tend to be too sweet for my taste without redeeming acidity. But, as you may guess from my previous notes on lambics, in this beer it worked because there was a healthy amount of acidity. The peach aromas balanced that nicely and were never overbearing. Decent lambic.
The kriek is problematic for me because I don’t like cherries very much. I just had a sip of it, and it was ok. If you like cherries, like pretty much everyone, you would most likely be quite happy with this one. My in laws definitely were.
It was tons of fun tasting through these different, vibrant varieties of lambic. They are easily available in the U.S. (I have seen them in liquor stores, at the grocery store and even in wine stores), so go grab a bottle if you can. You’re in for a treat if you like fruity beers.”