Mort Subite Lambic

Darcy O'Neil :: July 9, 2007 9:42 PM

Mort subite lambicWith the temperature getting hotter and hotter every day this summer, the efforts to find something cool and refreshing gets easier and easier. Basically, anything cold will work, but beers from Belgium tend to have a knack for summer thirst quenching. Belgium lambics are spontaneous fermented beers with a characteristic sour finish. Many lambics incorporate fruit into the aging process. This results is a great, refreshing beer for those hot summer days. Depending on where you live, the hard part may actually be finding one of these great beers.

The history of beer goes back thousands of years and many cultures have created versions of beer using a wide variety of grains and other fermentable products. One of the benefits of fermented beer products was that it was a great way to store excess grain. The grains were divided up for winter food supply, livestock feed and some was sold for a little spending cash. A nice new chamber pot was always a good purchase in those days.

If a farmer had a bumper crop and was left with a lot of excess grain it would go to waste if it could not be stored properly. Eventually some ingenious person realized that fermenting the grain and storing the resulting liquid it in wooden barrels was a great way to preserve the extra crop. It also made a very good tasting beverage.

Obviously, the original beer products were spontaneously fermented. Most people thought it was a gift from the gods and didn’t realize that yeast and certain bacteria’s were responsible. These microbes were present in the surrounding environment and imparted a particular flavour to the beer.

In the Senne valley of Belgium these spontaneously fermented beers became know as lambics. The idea of adding fruit to lambic beers probably started with farmers trying to add flavour to the beer or possibly to preserve the fruit in the same way the grain was being used. What happened was a great combination perfect for summer drinking. 

Mort Subite (Sudden Death)

Colour: Copper with reddish tones

Aroma: Raspberry and malt with a sour edge

Taste: It starts off slightly sweet and malty with some hoppiness, then finishes with sour raspberries. Great champagne like carbonation.

The one thing about lambics is that almost everyone likes them. Even though they are heavily hoped, generally, they are not bitter. They tend to be sweet and sour with fruit flavours. Even Gueuze, which is an aged lambic sans the fruit, is very drinkable. The refreshing quality comes from the balance of sweet and sour in the beer.


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