Conversing with a Lambic Enthusiast

Conversing with a Lambic Enthusiast

This is Jeremy. (He's on the right.) You can also find Jez on the internet @coldfizzyones

Those of you who live nearby have maybe chatted with Jez in our Thornbury shop or recognise him from events at the bar. He's our resident Lambic enthusiast and an all around great guy, so we figured we'd sit him down to ask our most funky questions. Enjoy!

What turned you onto Lambic?
The unparalleled funk & complexity of Lambic was the main drawcard. It’s also such a versatile base for fruit additions, so there were plenty of options to explore.

And what has kept you enthralled by the style?
The proliferation of wine/Lambic hybrids – it’s the best of both worlds.

Do you remember the first Lambic you ever had?
I believe it was Cantillon Faro, which was a gentle (& sweet) entry into the world of Lambic.

Did you love it from the first sip, or was it an acquired taste for you?
It took a while for unfruited, unadulterated Lambic to grow on me.

If you were to give advice to someone who wanted to start a beer collection what would it be?

  1. Be judicious with what you choose to cellar.
  2. Older ≠ Better. Don’t keep anything for longer than 15 years.
  3. Drink at least one bottle fresh before deciding to cellar!
  4. Provenance is important, as are shipping conditions. Don’t ship beer in the Australian summer!

One of the many things we love about you, Jez, are your beer reviews! Could you give us a review of ‘best’ Lambic you’ve had recently and tell us what it is?
It would have to be Cantillon Lou Pepe Kriek (2017). This bottling has 50% more cherry than regular Cantillon Kriek and uses the native Schaarbeekse varietal of cherry.

Aroma was bursting with cherry pie, marzipan and subdued funk. When it comes to heavily fruited Lambic, delivering on the aroma is simple. Akin to a 2am Big Mac, however, an enticing exterior can often give way to a grossly underwhelming interior.

Not this time.

If anything, this beer just shifted up a gear - offering a melody of tannin and cherry juice. Everything was then tied together by a gentle acidity and dryness. Flawless, really.

Okay, now hit us with a review of the worst beer you’ve had recently? We’ll keep this one secret.
This springs to mind as one of the ‘highest rated’ beers to ever grace my sink. If there was an equivalent sensory experience to drinking this beer, it would be a deafening burst of loud music through a pair of cheap headphones. The ‘natural flavour’ was so poorly executed it could be likened to aural assault. While the beer was certainly viscous and sticky (hazy fiends rejoice), this only served the purpose of staining my mouth and kitchen sink. No thanks.

What conditions should people keep their collection in?
14 degrees (never higher than 20 or lower than 4!)

Is there a Lambic producer that you hold in particularly high regard?
Girardin are the king and deserve more credit for assisting blenders such as Tilquin, Bokke and Bofkont.

Is there a Lambic producer you consider the underdog?
I think De Cam are the underdog. Oude Geuze (Gooikoorts edition), Wilde Bosbessen and Nectarine Lambiek are all delightful. Bonus points for misaligned labels with old world graphics.

Is your obsession unhealthy?
Let’s just say it was on the precipice before boxed Lambic became available…

What is your preferred antacid?
Gaviscon. Has to be chewable.

What is the gem that you don’t have your hands on?
Maybe Cantillon Pikkulinnun Viskilambic – 2 year-old Lambic aged in a single bourbon barrel. I’ve never had a bourbon aged Lambic.

What is your least favourite question to be asked about Lambics?
Is this too young to be opened?”

Ok now answer it.
In 99% of circumstances, the answer is no. The ability for Lambic to be aged shouldn’t be construed as a requirement to age it.

What is the most impressive beer in your collection? We’re giving you bragging rights now.
2008 Cantillon Crianza Helena, a blend of Lambic aged in cognac and Bordeaux barrels.

What are some breweries outside of Belgium that you think are hitting on par with the classics?
There are many who are close – Jester King Spon (Muscat) delivers a powerful stonefruit aroma, reminiscent of Cantillon Vigneronne. Mikkeller Baghaven utilize classic techniques with fascinating twists (read: frederiksdal cherries, mushrooms & even amphora ageing).

Any in Australia?
There are only a handful of Australian producers using a coolship and the early signs are phenomenal. Keep an eye out for a La Sirene geuze inspired blend and Rocky Ridge’s coolship debut.

Do you think that Lambics can be produced outside of Belgium? Or do they require the history, appellation etc. Basically, are you a purist? If so, why?
‘Lambic’ can be produced outside of Belgium, absolutely. Belgian brewers themselves advocate the spread of spontaneous fermentation. Allagash, for example, were one of the first to install a coolship in the US & were aided and encouraged by Cantillon. With that said, there may be barriers to success (such as a hot climate) - but it is not impossible.
As for the use of ‘Lambic’ and ‘Geuze’, I think it is best avoided if possible.

If you were to make a Lambic what would you do?
I would love to make a Lambic emulation of both Rhone red and white blends.

Is there anything else you wish to add? Any musings, tips, suggestions etc.
Good quality Lambic should be enjoyed alongside food and has immense flexibility when it comes to pairing!

Want to explore Lambic beer yourself?

Take a look at Carwyn Cellar’s extensive range of Lambic beer and get sipping!

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