Ashley’s Belgian Beer Festival- Lambic Blending Seminar

In another one of their unique events designed for beer enthusiasts, Ashley’s of Westland hosted a Lambic Blending Seminar during their Belgian Beer Festival on Wednesday, February 15th. The evenings featured speaker was Lanny Hoff of Artisanal Imports

Lambic is a distinctly Belgian type of beer. It differs from most beers in that it is produced by spontaneous fermentation, that is allowing wild yeasts and naturally occurring bacteria to give the beer it’s flavor, which is dominated by it’s sour element. Most beers are produced with specific and carefully monitored strains of yeasts. 

As the picture above explains, the featured brewery of the evening, Bockor Brewery of Bellegem, does not produce it’s Cuvee’ des Jacobins Rouge by blending young and old beers together, the brewery had provided both young and old beers for the purpose of this seminar. The mixing of these samples would teach the attendees how the different types of beer could be created by the ‘blending’ of these two distictly different elements.

We started with 100% young beer. This beer’s taste was certainly unspectacular, as the paper above stated it would be. It is important to note that Belgian breweries do not bottle and sell 100% young beers. 

The second sample was much more drinkable. After the seminar was over, some of the participants said this was their favorite of the blended beers when asked that question. 

Jeff carefully measuring out the samples
By the time the third sample was poured, many of the guests had surmised that this would be the most drinkable of the blends. The blandness of the young beers did it’s job in offsetting the sourness of the old beer.

The fourth sample was the most appealing to me- I was surprised by that. I am a fan of sweet beers (usually ambers & fruit beers), and I had made the mistake of assuming ‘sour’ and ‘bitter’ meant the same thing. Not being a fan of bitter beers (most of all IPAs- India Pale Ales), it was a revelation to me that I actually do like sour beers. This is a good thing- it was predicted, by Lanny on this night, and echoed by many of the distributors I met the following nights, that sour beers are the next wave in American craft brews. Since the seminar, I have found a few sour beers I am very fond of, most of all, a brew called La Roja, from a Michigan brewery, The Jolly Pumpkin

The final sample was of Cuvee des Jacobins Rouge, a traditional Belgian Sour Ale. This was extremely flavorful and a truly fine beer to drink, with both sour and fruity elements to it. 
Cuvee des Jacobins Rouge is available at many fine beer & wine stores here in the United States. Here in Michigan it is available at Merchant’s in Dearborn, and at Holiday Markets in both Canton and Royal Oak. 
Ashley’s Owners Jeff and Roy More with Lanny
As with many of the events during Ashley’s Belgian Beer Week, listening to a well-spoken guest like Lanny  was a highlight of evening. He imparted his knowledge and love of beer, while telling some stories that were both fascinating and amusing. 

For those wishing to learn more about lambics, here is an interesting page on lambics on the site Beer Utopia and another interesting article from Brew Your Own on the specifics of Lambic Brewing

Other posts about Ashley’s Belgian Beer Festival:
Ashley’s Trappist Beer Dinner
Van Eecke’s Dark Hommelbier US Release
Belgium Comes to Michigan- Ashley’s Van Eecke Dinner

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