This bottle of Faro is the last of a range of beers I brought back from Belgium earlier this month on a ‘research’ trip with some friends. Faro is a style of lambic that has been sweetened with brown sugar before bottling and not something I’d not tried before. This bottle from the famous Lindemans came both capped and corked so I was expecting a serious beer.
The carbonation was higher than is often found in lambics, a direct result of the sugar allowing secondary fermentation in the bottle. I was impressed that it poured so bright and had an intriguing toffee nose. When drinking it the sourness of the beer and the sweetness of the sugar compete making it both complex and refreshing. I had a really strong sense of toffee apples while drinking this which made me think of some ciders I’ve drunk in the past.
Faro has to feature as one of my favourite lambic styles and I look forward to trying some from different breweries on my next trip to Belgium in June.
This sour, aged beer forms the basis for all of their others. Fermented with the wild yeasts of the brewery it is a distinctive and funky character that can be quite challenging.
The best barrels are selected after three years of ageing and bottled under the name Grand Cru Bruocsella, by this point all of the sugar has been fermented out so there is no sweetness or opportunity for secondary fermentation.
The most famous of Cantillon’s beers is this blend of one, two and three year old lambics, this can be stored for years while it continues to develop in the bottle.
This lambic is blended with caramel and candied sugar, coming out of the bottle both sweet and highly carbonated.
A two year old lambic with Hallertau hops cold-soaked in it. This beer is made in honour of the Royale Union Saint-Gilloise football club.
All of these use two year old lambic with fruit soaked in it for 5-6 months. One third of the bottle will be made up of young lambic to allow for secondary fermentation.
Kriek: Schaerbeek cherries
Rose de Gambrinus: Raspberries
Vigneronne: White Muscat grapes
Saint-Lamvinus: Black Merlot grapes
Fou’foune: Bergeron apricots
Mamouche: Elderberry flowers
Lou Pepe Series – Kriek and Framboise : These beers come from one session and are primed using cane sugar instead of young lambic. As a result they are more intensely fruity and carry vintages.
Last weekend I visited Brussels, it was my first time in Belgium and I was more than a little excited to try the range styles Belgium is so famous for.
My first stop was Brussel’s last traditional, family run brewer Cantillon, famous for both its spontaneously fermented Lambic beers.
The beers are made with a 65% barley and 35% wheat grist with aged hops in the boil. As aged hops are used around 2-3 times more hop is required but this is done as they bring not only bitterness but also act to preserve the beer.
Once the beers are fermented they are stored in oak or chestnut wooden casks and aged for up to 3 years. Over 100 different yeast strains are used during the spontaneous fermentation plus 27 acetic acid bacteria and 38 lactic acid inducing bacteria.
An aged lambic is a very challenging drink so often different years are blended together to form a gueuze, a signature style of this brewery.