Style study: Straight Unblended Lambic

beer trends Aug 26, 2015

Straight lambic is a very rare find, in Belgium it's traditionally served flat and from a pitcher. A blend of three lambics that go through a "secondary" fermentation in a bottle to carbonate is typically what makes up a Gueuze. Alternatively, by adding fruit to lambic brewers can make Kriek, Framboise, and other fruited lambics. We know these beers are fermented by a variety of yeast and bacteria, but which ones and in what order? This great research published in PLOS One and titled The Microbial Diversity of Traditional Spontaneously Fermented Lambic Beer provides some answers: 

"Abstract: Lambic sour beers are the products of a spontaneous fermentation that lasts for one to three years before bottling. The present study determined the microbiota involved in the fermentation of lambic beers by sampling two fermentation batches during two years in the most traditional lambic brewery of Belgium...From 14 samples per fermentation, over 2000 bacterial and yeast isolates were obtained and identified. Although minor variations in the microbiota between casks and batches and a considerable species diversity were found, a characteristic microbial succession was identified. This succession started with a dominance of Enterobacteriaceae [enteric means "of, relating to, or occurring in the intestines," you don't want to ingest these, luckily they're not present in the final lambic product, they contribute to lambics' funky barnyard, goaty, and bilious characteristics] in the first month, which were replaced at 2 months by Pediococcus damnosus [creates lactic acid] and Saccharomyces spp. [typical brewer's yeast], the latter being replaced by Dekkera bruxellensis [Brettanomyces, which contributes fruitiness, earthiness, and funky barnyard characteristics] at 6 months fermentation duration."

beer trends