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Old 05-04-2009, 08:43 PM   #11
CBBaron
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My experience with lambics has not experienced a vinegar like beer yet. The beers are however quite tart and very complex, with tons of flavors.
On the other hand the Lindemann lambics, with the exception of Gran Cru have all been overly sweetened and tasted like bad koolaid to me. The fruit varieties I found undrinkable and the Faro and Gueze were not much better.

And not all fruit lambics are stabilized and sweetened like Lindemanns Cantillon makes a great fruit lambic in the traditional way by adding fruit to the fermentation and letting it age. This is a tart beverage with subtle fruit flavors. It is also very dry, not sickly sweet like the sweetened lambics.

Good Lambics and Flanders Reds are some of my favorite beers, however sweetened Lambics are my least favorite.

Craig

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Old 05-05-2009, 12:45 AM   #12
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Never had a lambic that had gone vinegary, but I have had lambic "noobs" claim that they tasted vinegar just from the intense sour flavor.

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Old 05-05-2009, 02:00 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisKennedy View Post
Never had a lambic that had gone vinegary, but I have had lambic "noobs" claim that they tasted vinegar just from the intense sour flavor.
I can appreciate that observation. But, stand by the claim that the pH of Lambic should not be below 3.0 and surely should not be 2.7. That is creeping into the range of lemon juice (which I love) and moving away from the Lambic.

Little wikipedia moment: pH - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Beer - typically around 4.2-4.8 pH.
Lambic - typically 3.2-3.5 (other sources than wikipedia).
Vinegar - lower than 3.0.

So, it would seem reasonable that there would be a point where the level of acetic acid would move Lambic from being Lambic into being Lambic vinegar. On the other hand, it might be possible to argue that some styles of Lambic are not just supposed to be vinegary - but are actually supposed to be full-on vinegar.
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Old 05-05-2009, 08:16 PM   #14
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The pH may or may not be too low for a lambic, but that shouldn't increase or decrease the vinegary character, only too much acetic acid will do that.

It is entirely possible that you are either super sensitive to acetic acid, or are perhaps tasting a very sour beer (which Cantillons and other traditional lambics/gueuzes certainly are) and it just makes you think of vinegar.

No Lambic should have a very noticeable acetic character, and I, with my palate, have never found one with very noticeable acetic character.

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Old 05-05-2009, 09:14 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisKennedy View Post
The pH may or may not be too low for a lambic, but that shouldn't increase or decrease the vinegary character, only too much acetic acid will do that.

It is entirely possible that you are either super sensitive to acetic acid, or are perhaps tasting a very sour beer (which Cantillons and other traditional lambics/gueuzes certainly are) and it just makes you think of vinegar.

No Lambic should have a very noticeable acetic character, and I, with my palate, have never found one with very noticeable acetic character.
Perhaps, although I have not found myself particularly sensitive to acetic acid in other things - and when others tasted or smelled it, they agreed it was like vinegar [including the brew shop].

Good point on the pH, however, too much acetic acid will lower it.

Who knows. Then again, I haven't encountered too much acetic acid flavor when abroad and drinking Lambic.
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Old 05-05-2009, 09:18 PM   #16
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I would just love to commend maztec on not getting pissed off at me. I posted that in haste and in a bad mood, so sorry for the abrasiveness.

18$ for a 750 of lambic is about what I normaly pay, for a 375 that awfully steep. I have also encountered moldy looking stuff under caps, presumably from the unpasturized condition combined with prolonged "laying down" (literaly, lambic brewers tend to age their beer for a year or more on its side after they bottle it).

Gueuze is a blend of different aged lambics, generally 1 2 and 3 year old lambics that is allowed to referment in the bottle to give it carbonation.

Improper bottling and storage (exposure to oxygen) can cause acetobactar to multiply and metabolize alcohol into vinegar. If you tested the PH more that a day or so after opening that bad bottle, it may have started degrading into vinegar due to the exposure to air, so Im not sure how valid your PH test was, and to be frank, im not sure what a proper PH range for lambic is.

Tannins in lambic are another thing im unsure about, I dont think that they are that present. You may be confusing the lactic acid dryness with tannin dryness. If there are significant tannins they do not come from the barrels, at least not in traditional lambic breweries like boon and cantillon. Red wine does get tannins from grape skins, I forgot about that, thanks for the reminder. One possible source for the tannins in lambic (im speculating here) is from the grain husks. I would imagine that turbid mashing (a lambic specific mash procedure in which the liquid portion of the mash is lautered off and boiled before being added back to the grist) would extract tannins from the grain.

As for the quantity of hops, general a very large amount of hops are used, but to the best of my knowledge hops do not contribute tannins to beer.

Hops do lose their cheesieness after a time, and due to the very long boil generaly used at lambic breweries (3+ hours, some historical accounts cite boils upwards of ten hours, but those were probably more like simmers due to the inefficient wood fires used in yesteryear.) any aroma and flavor left is almost completely driven off, the bitterness of the hops was lost withthe aging time, so the only real contribution of the hops is the preservative properties.

I love talking about this stuff, sorry for being snappy earlier.

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Old 05-06-2009, 02:37 AM   #17
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Orangevango: No problem with the snappiness, we all get that way sometimes and it is really difficult to figure out if someone is actually being snappy or just coming off that way. I have been a forum participant online far too long and a moderator in far too many places to allow myself to get riled up (albeit, it can happen).

Yes, $18 for 375s, I thought that was rather ridiculous myself when the 750s of fruit lambic are much cheaper.

Good to hear that the moldy stuff seems to be common. I read somewhere else (on this forum?) about someone using the last of the lambics he buys to develop a starter. Supposedly it worked well, but I would be interested in knowing if others have tried that.

I suspect the vinegar-ized lambics have been a result of poor storage and shipping. If you store a corked bottle upright too long the cork can dry out and slip or let air in - especially if it is smaller (375 bottle). That would explain the result. Good to hear that is not the way a lambic is supposed to be, but rather an unfortunate side-effect of being shipped around the world.

As for hops and tannins, Google to the rescue! I just took a bit of time to look this up. The best link was on Google Books the Dictionary of Beer and Brewing.

Quote:
{Hop} Tannin is mainly present in the bracts and strigs of the hop cone and imparts an astringent taste to beer. Also called "hop tannin" to distinguish it from tannins originating from malted barley. The greater part of the tannin content of the wort is derived from malt husks, but malt tannins differ chemically from hop tannins.
The same definition mentions that hop tannins can be used for precipitating haze forming proteins in the beer during the hot and cold breaks. And, I ran into a patent for hop tannin extraction. Found an all experts thing talking about too much hop plant material resulting in added tannins. And found a cool article on beer tannins, which mentions that beer tannins are often referred to as polyphenols and clarifies that about 2/3 of beer tannins come from the malt and 1/3 from the hops. It also mentions using Polyclar to reduce the amount of tannins in a beer. Also a book called The Hop and Its Constituents has a chapter on The Part Played By Hop Tanning in Brewing, it debunks a lot of things about whether hop tannins need to be used in beer, but also mentions that hop tannins do exist (cool article).

Now, to combine our knowledge:
Hop bracts and strigs have tannins. [But how much? What I read seems to indicate quite a bit, but more in early harvest hops than in late hops - apparently red stems are an indicator.]
Astringents cause a dry, puckering feeling.
A very large amount of hops are used in lambic.
That large amount is boiled for over 3 hours - a lot of time to leach tannins out.

Plus, for the grains, boiling the water and pouring it back over the grains would seem to extract more tannins from the grain.

The only question left is how fast do tannins evaporate from hops that have been aged? And, at what point, if at all, do they break down during boiling?

Thus, it appears that unless the hop tannins dissipate during aging, there might be more in lambic as compared to other beers. Then add to that the mash tannins and we have a chance for a highly tannic brew. Which could explain at least part of the dryness [not necessarily all of it, but I believe tannins do have a unique astringency as compared to that of lactic acid (correct me if I am wrong, this is formulated from a different mouth feel when comparing kefir or vinegar to red wine in retrospect)].

However, it appears I was wrong on it being from the oak. That is a good tip to know. But, that leads me to another question. If I decide to brew a lambic, where can I get a nice old oak barrel that has been sufficiently leached of tannins? Can I just grab one of the many old wine barrels from the winery [I typically use them as planters], or should I look to another source? Which reminds me, one of the best wines I ever had was made in old whisky barrels imported from Scotland.

Thoughts?
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Old 05-06-2009, 02:55 AM   #18
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An old wine barrel will work if you've got the capacity to fill it up to the top in a couple days. The choosing and maintainence of barrels in a lambic brewery is an art unto itself.

One thing about barrels and hombrewing and lambic to remember is that a lambic brewery has hundreds of barrels to blend together to make their finished lambic, so you dont just want one barrel, you want many. On the other hand, larger barrels are almost universaly thought to give lambic a better character. You are supposed to get better lambic out of a 55 gallon barrel than a 15 and better still out of a thousand gallon foudre. So ideally you would have a hundred large barrels to chose from in blending your lambic.

The home lambic brewer faces many more hurdles than the homebrewer of any other style I can think of.

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Old 05-06-2009, 03:10 AM   #19
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I think that we need to find some serious home wine makers that are ready to retire 15 gallon or so barrels. If I could find some, I would buy 20 and start making lambic in them. Im going to make lambic soon, but it will at best be an aproximation. I will be using 5 gallon better bottles with a toasted and de-tanninized oak dowel as the lid, more or less. The inch thick dowels will have a flange at the top to keep them from entering the bottles, but they will be submerged in the beer to provide a nesting place for all the little beasties, and to provide some micro-oxidization.

I would be Curious to find out what lambics you were buying at 18$ a 375 that were vinegar?

Have you read "Wild brews"? It contains a wealth of information about lambic and flanders beer production.

BTW. You talk about "the vineyard" you dont make wine do you?




Oh, and when you were abroad drinking lambic, were you drinking bottled gueuze or lambic from casks, or what? If you were drinking lambic from a cask, it may have been very young, which I belive would account for its less agressive acid character. Young lambic is something Ive never had though.

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Old 05-06-2009, 05:06 AM   #20
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Abroad I drank more than my liver cares to remember, but believe the lambic was mostly gueuze. I think I may have had casked once, but am unsure about my recollection of that instance.

I have not had the opportunity to read Wild Brews. It is on my list of books to get. Top of my list at the moment is to finish How to Brew, then the Bock book I have is to be read, then I believe I will be ready for Wild Brews.

Next time I make it to Whole Foods I will check to see which lambic it is they have. Whatever it is, both times I bought it it was vinegar. When I mentioned this thread to my wife she reminded me that at least the first time I complained about the cork pulling out far too easily. So, that seems entirely likely to be a cause. Then again, there is a reason people around here call Whole Foods "Whole Paycheck".

I do not personally make wine. However, my family has a vineyard and winery.

As for barrels, that is a good idea. It would be kind of fun if enough people in the same region decided to make lambics and then mix them together for gueuze's.

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