Gueuze, kriek, faro…: la fermentation spontanée crée le miracle !

news-20130105The Senne Valley and the Pajottenland have long been the source of a unique and intangible treasure, which goes by two names: Brettanomyces Bruxellensis and Brettanomyces Lambicus.

Behind these complex scientific names are in fact two micro-organisms, wild yeasts that are only found in this micro-region, and without which we would not be able to enjoy Gueuze, Faro, Kriek, or “Framboise”...

All of these so-called spontaneous fermentation beers are based on a blend of young and old Lambics (Gueuze), sometimes with added candy sugar (Faro), macerated cherries (Kriek) or natural raspberry, peach, or now even pumpkin flavourings (Timmermans Pumpkin Lambicus)!

Unlike high-fermentation and low-fermentation, spontaneous fermentation does not require the addition of culture yeasts. It is in the large shallow copper vat, where the wort cools after the brewing, that the magic will happen when these famous and unique wild yeasts are in contact with the air. These yeasts will penetrate the wort and cause the famous spontaneous fermentation of the Lambic, which will be completed in the oak casks of the maturation room (which some brewers have unfortunately replaced with stainless steel vats).

Return to tradition

After six months, the Lambic is considered to be “young”. After two years in a cask, it is referred to as “old” lambic. The whole art of the master brewer is to blend these young and old Lambics to create a Gueuze (after further fermentation in the bottle), to add candy sugar to them to obtain a Faro, or to produce a Kriek by macerating real cherries for six to 10 months in young Lambic.

The Timmermans brewery, based in Itterbeek, in the Pajotteland, for three centuries is exemplary for this tradition of real lambic. This unique beer is brewed with 37% wheat, in the oldest Lambic brewery in the world still in operation. It in this way ensures the preservation of the most authentic know-how, in particular through its “Oude Gueuze” and “Oude Kriek”.

“Oude Gueuze” is a registered and protected designation. It is available only as a limited edition. It has a specific flavour owing to its traditional preparation in accordance with the rules of the art. It is a blend of old Lambic matured for three years in wooden casks and young Lambic encouraging refermentation in the bottle. At the end of this four-month refermentation, the “Oude Gueuze” will continue to improve for 20 years. The “Oude Kriek”, produced, on the basis of the same principles, can be stored for 30 to 40 years or even longer.

The Timmermans brewery also produces an outstanding Timmermans Tradition Lambicus Blanche, based on its ancestral principles. It is created by combining the Lambic with the process for brewing malted wheat-based beer. Spices are added to it to obtain a fruity-flavoured, light and cloudy blondeness, typical of wheat beers.