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The Complex World of Fruit Beer

Want to know a little more about Belgian Fruit Beer? Then read on! The Belgians rank among the world’s best, and most innnovative, brewers, and while we celebrate that at The House of Belgium, we also know it causes confusion so we’re going to start this article with a little disambiguation. Here are some words that cause confusion:

Lambic Beer

Lambic relates to the way that beers are brewed. Whilst almost every mass-produced beer begins with selected yeast varieties that are guaranteed to deliver an easily definable taste, lambic beers are a big, exciting gamble! The Belgian lambic beers are brewed in open vats where ‘wild’ yeast and even random bacteria can populate the brewing process and create a individualised brew - once this fermentation starts the beer is poured into closed barrels and aged for up to three years to develop a robust flavour. This leads to a sour beer that is mildly carbonated, cloudy or flaky and has a distinctly ‘thick’ and ‘heavy’ mouthfeel.

Kriek Beer

The term Kriek describes a type of beer, rather than a brewing method. Krien is made from a base beer, which may or may not be lambic, to which cherries are added. Some modern Kriek beers don’t add cherries, they make their base beer into a Kriek by using cherry juice or even cherry syrup which can make the beer sweeter than the average. Krien beer usually gets bottled with a cork, like a sparkling wine. Flavour ranges from very sweet and fizzy commercially brewed Kriek through to semi-sweet lambics with a wider range of base notes.

Fruit Lambic Beer

In fruit lambic beers, whole fruits are added after fermentation has begun. Kriek is Belgian for cherry, so that’s what’s in a Kriek, whilst abricot (apricot) cassis, (blackcurrant), framboise (raspberry), and pêche (peach), are now commonly added to lambic beers for a modern consumer market.

So, just to recap - a beer can be lambic but not fruit lambic, and it can be Kriek but not lambic … we said it was confusing, didn’t we?

Buying Belgian Fruit Beer

Some tips for the  beginner:

  1. If you’re looking for a place to start, why not try Kriek Boon - a lambic beer with a fresh flavour and a remarkable taste that is exactly like the sweet/sour combination of Morello cherries.
  2. Pêche Mel' Bush is that other kind of Belgian fruit beer - a non-lambic. Bush Ambrée is one of the strongest beers Belgium produced and here it’s blended with peach juice to give a well balanced beer with a strong nose of peach.
  3. Lindeman’s Framboise - based on a lambic beer with whole raspberries added, the Lindeman’s Framboise is an award winner - in colour it’s a glowing red/purple with a gorgeous pink head, it has a clean taste with clear raspberry notes and works superbly with dessert - not something you can say about most beers!

For the more experienced Belgian beer drinker

As is traditional, pairing your Belgian fruit beer with a plate of cottage cheese can deepen the resonances of these complex and rewarding  beers. But there are other options, mussels often pair well with a light Kriek whist Eggs Benedict works brilliantly with a peach Belgian fruit beer.

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