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Old 11-03-2009, 12:49 AM   #1
Sep 2007
Central Coast
Posts: 544
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Any one care to differentiate American sours (RR, Lost Abbey, Cascade Brewing) from lambic beers?

So far after reading Wild Brews, Lambic and hosts of online surfing about the subject, I can say they BOTH seem very close.


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Old 11-03-2009, 01:07 AM   #2
Beerrific's Avatar
Mar 2007
Posts: 5,562
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"Lambic" is a term that has a Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (EU law) indicator. It can only be made by breweries in the Senne valley in Belgium (although the term is not protected by US law). They are brewed using an open fermentation, inoculating the wort with the indigenous yeast and bacteria native to that region.

The sours made in US are variations of the sour beers made in Belgium. While some are made to be direct 'imitations' of lambics, I would say all are directly inspired by these beers. Most (but not all) US sour beer producers use cultivated wild yeast and bacteria instead of spontaneous fermentation.

You will see many homebrewers call their sours "psuedo lambics" or "pLambic" in respect for the fact that they cannot truly make a lambic. Many pro-brewers avoid the "lambic" all together for the same reason.

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Old 11-20-2009, 04:37 PM   #3
Tonedef131's Avatar
Feb 2008
Fort Wayne
Posts: 1,891
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Originally Posted by Beerrific View Post
"Lambic" is a term that has a Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (EU law) indicator. It can only be made by breweries in the Senne valley in Belgium (although the term is not protected by US law).
This is incorrect, even in Europe you can call anything you want a lambic. Lambics are only certified TSG without reservation, all brewers are welcome to call their spontaneously fermented wheat beers lambics. What it means is that no one can put a TSG stamp on the bottle unless it conforms to certain production methods.

Even if it was TSG certified with reservation that is a totally different system from Geological Indicators and only refers to traditional ingredients and production methods and has nothing do to with where it's produced. There is no PDO or PGI appellation for lambics.

Originally Posted by Agricultural Product Quality Policy
It has to be noted that TSG differs from the system for geological indications (GI) since it does not refer to origin. In fact, the system is drawn so that any producer complying with the product specification may use the registered name together with the TSG indication, abbreviation or logo on the labeling of an agricultural product or foodstuff.

We have been talking about this in another thread so I thought I would point it out here too. Homebrewers call their lambic "psuedo lambics" because they typically inoculate with propagated cultures rather than spontaneous fermentation. Lambics are by definition a wheat ale that is spontaneously fermented, but most people are trying to make something more like commercial examples rather than trying to make a beer that completely honors tradition. So most of the time we are willing to break the definition in order to make a more predictable and desirable product. And although this goes against the appellation you can still call it a Lambic, you just don't get the EU stamp of approval.

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Old 11-20-2009, 05:47 PM   #4
May 2009
Portland, OR
Posts: 108
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Lambics probably have more diversity in bugs due to their history of ambient fermentation. American sours typically rely on pure cultures netting less diversity in their brett/pedio/lacto. But yes, they are can be very close.

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