Tag Archives: Beer

What is a Lambic???

Lambic is a brewing style that traces it’s roots back over 400 years, and was probably one of the first “beers” to come out of ancient Mesopotamia. In contrast to the sanitary techniques used by brewers of traditional ales and lagers, which are fermented by carefully cultivated strains of brewer’s yeasts, lambic beer is produced primarily in the Senne valley region of Begium, and utilizes spontaneous fermentation of the wild yeasts and bacteria present in the area. It is this unusual process which gives the beer its distinctive flavour: dry, vinous, and cidery, often with a sour aftertaste.

Like the beers of old, most lambics are brewed from a combination of malted barley and unmalted wheat, the latter often being up to 40% of the mash bill.
Although ancient brewers would simply leave their beers outside in the breeze to spontaneously ferment, now days it is understood that a majority of the yeasts and bacterias used in Lambic production reside within the walls of the breweries. Lambics are also only produced between October and May, limiting the amount of contaminants in the beer.

Another aspect of Lambic brewing that differs from ales and lagers is the way hops are utilized. Hops have been used for centuries as a preservative, bittering agent, and to provide great aromas and flavors to beer. With lambics, the use of hops is almost solely as a preservative. Because lambics are usually aged for several years in port or sherry barrels, dry aged hops, which have lost most of their bitter oils, are added to the beer in quantity to help preserve it, while keeping the hop bitterness to a minimum.

There are several different varieties of Lambics, and many offerings are actually blends of casks brewed in different locations.

Pure Lambic
Unblended lambic is a cloudy, uncarbonated, bracingly sour beverage which is generally around three years old. Very few offerings can be found outside of Belgium.

Gueuze
A mixture of young and old lambics that have been bottled. It keeps well in the bottle and a good gueuze will be given a year to referment in the bottle, but can be kept for 10–20 years. Use of grain adjuncts and inoculation is allowed. Bottle aging is the traditional way to make gueuze, but artificial carbonation is not uncommon. Filtration and pasteurization can occur. Gueuze is golden to light amber in color. Carbonation can be champagne-like. They are sour, acetic and sometimes harsh, usually without bitterness.

Faro
Historically, a low-alcohol, sweetened beer made from a blend of lambic and a much lighter, freshly brewed beer to which brown sugar, caramel or molasses was added shortly before serving. Modern faro beer is still characterized by the use of brown sugar and lambic, but is not necessarily a light beer. Modern faro is bottled, sweetened and pasteurized to prevent refermentation in the bottle. Examples are produced by Cantillon, Boon, Lindemans or Mort Subite.

Kriek
Lambic refermented in the presence of sour cherries and with secondary fermentation in the bottle results in kriek. Traditional versions of kriek are dry and sour, just as traditional geuze.

Fruit
A Lambic which includes the addition of raspberry (framboise), peach (pêche), blackcurrant (cassis), grape (druif), apple (pomme), banana (banane), pineapple (ananas), apricot (abricotier), plum (prunier), cloudberry (plaquebière), lemon (citron), blueberry (bleuet), or strawberry (aardbei), as either whole fruit or syrup. Fruit lambics are usually bottled with secondary fermentation. Although fruit lambics are among the most famous Belgian fruit beers, the use of names such as kriek, framboise, cassis, etc., does not necessarily imply that the beer is made from lambic. Many of these fruit beers produced in the US are typically artificially sweetened and based on syrups instead of fresh fruit, resulting in a taste experience that is quite remote from the traditional products.

So there you have it, now you know what a Lambic is, now go out and try some. Cheers!

Steel Reserve: The Beer Of Champions

Steel Reserve is a Union made, American lager owned and produced by Steel Brewing Company. Today we are going to take a look at the 8.1% abv High Gravity Lager, which is slow brewed for 28 days with extra barley and select hops.

Steel Reserve is most often found in 40oz bottles and 24oz silver cans, with a great eye catching design.
It pours a clear amber color with minimal lacing. Carbonation is on the high end of the lager spectrum. The aromas are light malt and sweet corn, with no hop aromas present. The taste is sweet corn, sugary adjuncts, some slight metallic flavors rounded out by some acidic hops and the warm glow of alcohol. Probably one of the best malt liquors out there.

“Steel Reserve is a great beer!!”
“I wish i could get my home brew to taste more like it!”
“This is the perfect alcoholic’s brew.”
“It tastes better than many macro brews or is more drinkable than an IPA or a stout.” 

So go ahead and give it a try. As you sip this nectar remember all of my friends who know and love this beer. Here’s looking at you, Tim & Emmett. Cheers!

A little bit of Irish

Today is St. Patrick’s Day, and I thought I would share some interesting tidbits about a few things Irish.

Saint Patrick, was actually not Irish, but British Roman. When he was about 16, he was taken as a slave to Ireland, by Celtic pirates, where he lived for six years before escaping and returning to Britain. He joined the catholic church, and eventually returned to Ireland as an ordained bishop, to bring Christianity to the tribes that he had come to know and love. By the seventh century, he had come to be revered as the patron saint of Ireland.

Although Ireland is arguably the birthplace of whiskey, currently there are only 5 operating distilleries in Ireland: Middleton Distillery, Bushmills Distillery, Cooley Distillery, Kilbeggan Distillery, and Clontarf Distillery. Of these 5 distilleries, only Cooley Distillery is Irish owned. These distilleries produce over 70 different brands/varieties of Irish Whiskey.

Corned Beef & Cabbage is not a traditional Irish dish. In fact, while corned beef has been around in Ireland for centuries, it wasn’t until immigrating to North America that the dish became more well known. Even today, it is not a meal that is often consumed in Ireland, except by tourists.

Ireland has only been a self-governed country since 1922 (as the Irish Free State) and more recently as the independent Republic of Ireland, created in 1937. In 1949, Ireland seceded from the British Commonwealth, and was was officially recognised by Britain through the Ireland Act 1949.

Although Ireland’s most famous beer is Guinness, over 60% of the beer sold in the country is actually lager. In a similar fashion to it’s distilleries, at the beginning of the 19th century there were over 200 breweries in the country, 55 of them in Dublin alone. During the latter half of the 19th century the number of breweries fell to about 50, and today there only about 12, although craft brewing is beginning to emerge again. Also of interest is the fact that hops did not come into widespread use in Ireland until late in the 18th century, far after they were being used in most countries in the world.

Hurling is the national sport of Ireland. Similar to lacrosse, this intense field game is considered one of the fastest paced games in the world. And if you thought that Friday night football in Texas was a big deal, you ain’t seen nothing!

So there are your fun facts for the day. Sláinte!