As you may or may not know, I am a lover of all Belgian beers. So imagine how thrilled I was to see the article on Lambics in today's New York Times.
Lambic (pronounced lam-BEEK, more or less) is a style of beer unique to Belgium, based on brewing with "wild" yeasts. Where most breweries are obsessively clean and hermetically sealed, lambic is fertilized by leaving the windows wide open so that naturally occuring yeast spores can drift in and start the magic. Eric Asimov in the article says it well:
If you have explored beer and decided it's not for you, well, I toast
your open mind. But if you have exiled beers to parts unknown, I have a
radical proposal: Take the time to seek out and try a few lambic beers
from Belgium and tell me if these are not as complex and distinctive as
many fine wines.
Most people, if they are familiar with lambics at all, know the fruity ones like Lindeman's Framboise (Raspberry). Unlike some fruit-flavored beers you'll find in microbreweries across the U.S., lambics are brewed with fresh fruit added to the mash, so that almost all of the sugar is converted to alcohol. As a result, the fruit gives the beer a wonderful aroma and taste, but is not really sweet.
But as dark chocolate is to milk chocolate, gueze (pronounced GURZ-uh, more or less) is to the fruit lambics. Gueze is a blend of young and ole lambics, with a wonderully dry and complex taste.
One of the little known pleasures of living in Buffalo–besides the delightfully white winters–is Premier Gourmet on Delaware Avenue, which has one of the best selections of Belgian beers in North America. Actually, they carry a very wide variety of both imports and microbrews, but I always find myself focusing on the Belgians. It's an expensive habit.