In recent weeks The Brew Club has reviewed a number of fruit beers, including Lindemans Franboise, Scott’s first venture in to the tart, sour world that is spontaneously fermented beers from the Lambeek Valley near Brussels – hence ‘Lambic’.
Just in case you haven’t read the other Lambic reviews here on The Brew Club, or if you’re new to Lambics, the beers are brewed without the addition of yeast, relying on the wild yeasts such as “Brettanomyces Bruxullensis” and “Brettanomyces Lambicus” that might be roaming the Belgian countryside in search of innocent vats of unfermented wort. You can almost picture it, they have ‘Born to Ferment’ in studs on the back of their leather biker jackets.
Like a Saturday night at a roadhouse bar, the random nature of these liaisons can lead to great variations in taste, so to introduce consistency the brewers tend to blend old and young brews, allowing the blend to re-ferment to give a ‘gueuze’ beer. Addition of fruit such as strawberries or cherries provides additional sugars to assist this secondary fermentation.
Adding Raspberries produces Framboise beer, Cherries gives ‘Kriek’, Peaches – Pecheresse. You get the idea. Although in recent years the popularity of Kriek beers has forced brewers like Lindemans to resort to Cherry pulp rather than the whole black Morello cherries they used to use. This has led to a slightly sweeter Kriek than in the olden days, but still with the tart refreshment from the Lambic beer base.
Don’t be fooled by the skull lurking on the label either, this isn’t a killer beer strength or flavour wise, it comes in at a fairly mild 3.5% ABV, but it demonstrates that you don’t need raw power to provide flavour.
As Scott observed in his review of the Lindemans Framboise, this beer is bottled with a cork (and a bottle with a substantial ‘frog’ in the base like champagne bottles, to cope with the potential pressure caused by secondary fermentation) then a crown cap and then foil, so it takes a while to get into. Fortunately as you can see, I had my trusty Homer Simpson corkscrew to hand.
It pours sweetly, with just a hint of a head, and a deep cherry colour. There’s a hint of lacing as the head (and the beer) goes down. The taste is unmistakably cherries, but sweeter than other Kriek beers I’ve tasted in the past – I’m guessing that’s down to the cherry pulp rather than Morello cherries. And that sweetness overpowers the tartness of the Lambic beer, to me a good lambic will have a sour tartness that makes you wince on the first sip.
Overall the taste and mouth sensation is lose to cheeryade, or akin to an Italian ‘Lambrusco’ wine; that’s not necessarily a good thing, ‘Lambrusco’ is cheap, mass produced and targeted and girls out on the lash.
As a beer it’s refreshing and interesting enough to maybe keep a couple of bottles in the fridge, but there are better Kriek beers out there, and better Lambics. I know Scott gave the Lindemans Framboise four stars, I’m struggling to give this three, but on a hot summer’s day it does go down VERY well.
Bob the Brit