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  • Writer's pictureThe Belgian

What's a Lambic beer anyway?


Lambic beer stands as a unique and ancient style of beer brewing, with its roots deeply embedded in the Belgian brewing tradition. This remarkable beer is distinguished by its spontaneous fermentation process, a method that has been preserved and celebrated in Belgium for centuries. Unlike conventional beers, which are fermented with carefully selected strains of yeast, lambic beers are exposed to the wild yeasts and bacteria native to the Zenne Valley region, resulting in their distinctive sour and complex flavor profile.

The origins of lambic beer can be traced back to the farms and monasteries of the Pajottenland region, southwest of Brussels, where this brewing method has been practiced since at least the 13th century. The traditional process involves cooling the wort (unfermented beer) overnight in a shallow vessel known as a "coolship." This exposure to the open air allows the wort to inoculate with wild yeast and bacteria, including Brettanomyces, which are prevalent in the region. The beer is then aged in wooden barrels, where it undergoes a slow fermentation over months or even years, developing its unique flavor characteristics.

The Boon Brewery, located in the heart of this traditional lambic brewing region, is among the most revered producers of authentic lambic beers today. Founded in 1978 by Frank Boon, the brewery has been instrumental in the revival and preservation of lambic brewing techniques. Frank Boon's commitment to the craft was driven by a passion for the traditional methods and a desire to save them from the brink of extinction. Today, Boon Brewery stands as a beacon of tradition, blending meticulous craftsmanship with innovation to produce some of the finest lambic beers.

Boon Brewery specializes in several types of lambic beers, including unblended lambic, gueuze, and fruit lambics. Unblended lambic is the purest form of this beer, showcasing the raw, unadulterated flavors resulting from spontaneous fermentation. Gueuze is a blend of young and old lambics, which is then bottle-fermented to achieve a lively carbonation and a more complex, balanced profile. The brewery also produces fruit lambics, such as Kriek (cherry) and Framboise (raspberry), where fresh fruit is added during the aging process, infusing the beer with natural sweetness and aroma.

The Boon Brewery's commitment to quality and tradition is evident in its adherence to time-honored techniques. The brewery uses wooden barrels for aging, some of which are over a century old, contributing to the depth and complexity of the beer's flavor. The selection of barrels, the blending process, and the meticulous attention to detail at every stage of production underscore the craft and expertise that go into every bottle of Boon lambic beer.

Moreover, Boon Brewery has been at the forefront of innovation within the tradition-bound world of lambic beer. While respecting the age-old methods, the brewery has embraced modern technology to enhance quality control and ensure consistency. This marriage of tradition and innovation has allowed Boon to expand its reach, introducing the unique taste of authentic lambic beer to a global audience.

Lambic beer is a testament to Belgium's rich brewing heritage, a symbol of the country's dedication to craftsmanship and tradition. The Boon Brewery exemplifies the enduring allure of lambic beer, bridging the past and the present with its exceptional brews. Through its commitment to preserving the spontaneous fermentation process and its passion for innovation, Boon continues to contribute to the legacy of lambic beer, ensuring its place in the pantheon of Belgian brewing for generations to come.

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