I have been reading up and researching beer for the last two weeks. I purchased a classic off ebay from the late beer writer Michael Jackson, the Beer companion. The first section after the basic what is beer and how is it made is a tour of Belgium and France’s Lambic producing past.
I have always had a soft spot for the Kriek or Frambios tart Lambics as a once in a while switch up from traditional ale. I knew they where openly fermented in the attics of Belgium breweries where wild yeasts were allowed to enter and ferment the wort. Sometimes fruit is added as well. Jackson refers to the style as rustic and in the past the last agriculturally produced beverage of the Belgium and France regions as they were produced with locally grown ingredients such as unmalted wheat and locally available fruit much like today’s farm house siasons.
the surprising fact that was mentioned in the section was the use of hops that are added to the wort for conditioning, sterilization and longevity of the brew. There is a large amount of hops used but since it’s aged so long it looses the bittering quality allowing the fruit and tartness of the wild yeast to shine through in more of a wine or Champagne like quality.
another interesting fact is many of the traditional lambics were and still are aged in wooden barrels for up to three years or more. A technique that has seem to come in vogue for more than just your luscious imperial stouts these days. The book is a great read on the history of beer so far. It’s kind of fun because it was written in the 90’s in the early part of the second craft revolution and to read the vivid past of beer and know how it is transforming this very day is actually really cool.
Beer as a craft and art form has such infinite possibilities it is going to fantastic to watch how it’s future unfolds. The more skilled hands become proficient at ages old techniques and ingredients the better they get at creating brews that mimic the historic styles but at the same time impart ingredients, blending of techniques and/or styles that are new to this age. It’s an exciting time and I can’t wait to become more involved with the revolution!