Beer in America has long been considered to be the domain of guys, while girls stick to wine. This trend is most unfortunate, but I’ve been happily watching it reverse over the past several years. I personally have been able to introduce a number of women to good beer and in general have seen the popularity of fruity witbeers increase. Witbeers, however, are not the only beers that I’ve found to appeal to non-beer drinkers; many people, especially those who typically prefer wine, like blended lambics.
Lambics are style of beer from Brussels, Belgium and the nearby Pajottenland region. These beers are neither a traditional ale nor lager made using cultured yeast, but belong to a third class: spontaneously fermented beers. These beers are fermented using natural yeasts and bacteria that blow into the open fermenters, yielding a sour beer with a unique taste to each batch. They can be consumed straight, blended and carbonated (called a Gueze) or blended with fruit.
One of the other reasons non-beer people tend to like this style is that it lacks the characteristic bitterness of many lager styles. While substantial amounts of hops are added to the beer, they are generally aged first to remove much of their bitter oils. This aging process prevents the beer from becoming overly bitter while maintaining the antimicrobial properties of the hops, but this tends to lend a cheesy character instead.
Framboise is a name for beer that has been brewed using raspberries, which can be done in several ways. Traditionally this is created by adding whole raspberries to the wort as it ferments and later straining out the remains of the fruit before bottling. Many modern breweries instead purchase raspberry purée, or even simply raspberry juice, which is mixed with the wort instead of the whole fruit. Blended lambics, however, are fully fermented before being mixed with the fruit juice. After bottling, the juices provide the sugars needed to carbonate the bottles, as well as providing flavor.
Lindemans Brewery is a family owned brewery in Vlezenbeek, Belgium that opened in 1811 under Frans Lindemans. The business was successful enough that, in 1930, the adjoining family farm was shut down and continued to expand their offerings and distribution throughout the 20th century. Lindemans was also the first brewery to import lambic into the United States, starting in 1979. The brewery was expanded again to meet demand in 2003 and also in 2007.
Lindemans Framboise poured a clear, deep red so dark that it was almost opaque. A single finger of pillowy, dark pink head formed, but was interspersed by some quite coarse bubbles as well. The head settled out quite quickly, but as the beer was consumed it still left the characteristic Belgian lacing on the glass. The aroma consisted overwhelmingly of sour raspberries, with some restrained malt notes present as well, but no hop aroma was evident. The initial impression of the taste is quite tart and sour, but this was quickly balanced out by sweetness, all of which were buried under a raspberry character. The finish was also fairly tart. The mouthfeel was quite fizzy, almost like soda, coupled with a moderately thin mouthfeel.
Overall, while having some sour character and being fairly tart, this was a very well balanced beer. I highly recommend this for anyone who doesn’t think they like beer, as I have found very few people who dislike this particular beer.