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A ‘complex’ beer issue

We love lambic in our house, yet I suspect I could spend the better part of the day asking others who live in our village about it before I found somebody who knew lambic meant beer.

But, goodness, all the attention it is getting these days could make you think it might be the Next Big Thing. We’re all in trouble if it is because we’re gonna run out of lambic real fast. For for instance, Cantillon – a subject in many of the discussions linked below – brews all of 800 barrels a year, about the same amount as the modest-sized brewpub up the hill from our house.

Following an article in the New York Times and a couple of blog posts by Eric Asimov you’ve got this:

A Lambic Primer at Ratebeer.com from Daniel Shelton of Shelton Brothers.

Followed by spirited discussions at Rate Beer and Beer Advocate. (Thanks to Jonathan Surratt for the links.)

These discussions wander off in esoteric directions and raise as many questions as they answer, but it’s ahrd to quit reading.

I’m drawn to two subjects. First, the role of tradition and if tradition allows room for innovation. Without innovation there would be no Double IPAs, so I’m voting for innovation and figuring there should be some wiggle room when talking about tradition.

Second, the sweetness versus complexity argument. Gee, does that sentence equate sweet and simple? No apologies.

I’m reminded a late night discussion a year or so ago with Yvan De Baets, a Belgian brewer in waiting who wrote the history of saison in Farmhouse Ales.

“One of the main goals of Belgian brewers should be to fight against the Coca-Cola flavors and those kind of gadget tastes,” he said. “We should be about cultural tastes, not (sweet) animal tastes.”

Amen (although I’d like to ask brewers of all nations to act as responsibly).

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