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Old 01-20-2011, 09:25 PM   #1
dukerutledge
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Default Lambic Pipeline

Lambics are some of my favorite beers and I've always wanted to brew one, however I never even gave it a thought because of the challenges presented. Today for a thought experiment I decided to plan out a yearly pipeline.

#1 Blending
A true Lambic is a blend of 3 different aged batches:

  • 1 year
  • 2 year
  • 3 year

#2 Aged Hops
Hops for a Lambic should be aged 1-3 years in order to remove any of their bittering characteristics. You are really only looking for their preservative properties to aide in the long haul ahead. Most recipes I've seen call for 3 oz of aged hops.

#3 The Pipeline
I would want a yearly pipeline. This entails having 3 different vintages every year. In order to make this work, 3 batches would need to be brewed every year and stored for their respective uses (1yr,2yr,3yr).

In order to step into the pipeline 1 batch would be brewed the first year and 2 batches the 2nd year. All years after would follow the 3 batch plan.

#4 Storage
When aging so many batches, storage would become an issue. Following the 3 brews a year plan, 6 batches would need to be stored at any given time. 3 three year batches, 2 two year batches and 1 one year batch. This is a fair amount of static carboys to be holding, but not out of the question.

All Together
So what would the yearly schedule look like to get things going?
  1. Acquire 3oz hops
  2. 6oz hops, Brew first batch
  3. 9oz hops, 2 batches
  4. 9oz hops, 3 batches
  5. Blend 3 Batches and bottle, 9oz hops, 3 Batches (repeat indefinitely)

In theory this would give you one 15 gallon batch of Lambic each year.

It seems like a lot to get into, but for me a system like this is what it would take to regularly brew a beer that requires upwards of 4 years from rhizome to bottle.
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Old 01-21-2011, 06:34 AM   #2
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I'm not a lambic brewer, but I have been involved with some sour beers. I think you are diving way too deep into this. I'd just brew a sour beer. If you have aged hops, great, if not, do it anyways...If you want to start this roatation brewing too, do it, but make it a side project. I remember listening to JZ talk about how he had a 3g oak barrel or something like that, and every time he pulled a gallon, he added a gallon (plus angels share) of the wort to the barrel.

IMO, What you are talking about is crazy pro brewery stuff. Do what makes you happy, but I think there is a more simple way to make a sour beer than what you are talking about.

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Old 01-21-2011, 07:20 AM   #3
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I plan to do the same (make a Lambic/Gueze pipeline), and experiment with other sour styles and techniques. Can't wait. I just hope they taste good after all that time, hah. Won't know til you try though. Go big or go home I always say.

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Old 01-21-2011, 04:01 PM   #4
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Not all lambics are blended. What you are talking about is something more in line with a gueuze. You could definitely go that route if you have three fermenters available to dedicate AND after several years the bugs don't go too sour on you. I also don't think it's absolutely necessary for you to find aged hops. A small amount of hops in a year old beer isn't really going to contribute a lot of flavor or IBUs. If you're going to take on that big of a project it might make sense. You could just buy a pound of hops each year and let them oxidize (sit out).

Personally I have a lambic project going but I am using the solera method. My average lambic will be about 18 months old which is a happy medium for me. If I get the space down the line I will probably start another solera and only pull from it every 3-4 years so I can blend with more age.

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Old 01-21-2011, 04:31 PM   #5
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Have you read the book "wild brews"? If not I suggest grabbing a copy or a ebook copy and clipping through the information. Not all lambics are blended as mentioned. Gueze is blended with 1, 2, and 3 year lambic. It's my understanding from the book and other areas like Cantillion's site, that true lambic is just the 3yr aged stuff and it's not effervescent.

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