What’s the deal with aged lambics?

Discussion in 'Cellaring / Aging Beer' started by mambossa, Apr 21, 2018.

  1. mambossa

    mambossa Initiate (130) Jun 30, 2015 Ohio

    Personally, I’m an avid fan and collector of old wine; old Napa cab, old North/Central Italian (Piedmont/Montalcino)... a lot of robust wine does incredible wonders with age.

    I’m having a hard time understanding how the aging process works for lambics. Being so sour when young, how does that flavor typically develop over time by controlled maturation/oxidization? What kind of depth is achieved?

    Seeing as I’ll probably never purchase a properly aged lambic myself, I wanted to hear some feedback from the seasoned ladies and gentlemen on BA.
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  2. JamFuel

    JamFuel Poo-Bah (3,089) Mar 26, 2009 Sweden

    It varies wildly, since the beer is still alive. In my experience the sourness and acidity mellow a bit and let the other aspects out. I've tried four vintages of Cantillon gueuze side by side and the older, the more complex. Any thing with fruit added should be drunk fresh as the fruit is the first to fade. I don't claim to know, but this is my take on it.
  3. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,468) Mar 12, 2009 New York

  4. youradhere

    youradhere Zealot (516) Feb 29, 2008 Washington

    I’m my personal experience aging lambics and wild ales, I can tell you that it all depends on the yeast/bacteria in the bottle, along with a whole other litany of factors that can and will change the flavor over time. I’ve had cantillion Guerrero get brighter and lighter, as well as St Lam getting more sour and acidic. I’ve had fruit wilds that started out unbearably sour only to get sweeter and develop only what I can describe as a “creamy” profile. My uncle on the other hand says it all tastes like bile and baked beans with a hint of fart, so your opinion of aged lambic/wilds might differ from others.

    I’ll tell you that you can’t go wrong in aging a few a couple years that are known to hold up.
  5. captaincoffee

    captaincoffee Meyvn (1,392) Jul 10, 2011 Virginia

    The dynamic between aging wine and lambics is quite different. A beefy red wine, for instance, starts tannic and astringent, but those compounds form long chains over time and soften the wine. This also allows some complex fruit flavors to come forward. At the same time, the wine is oxidizing, which also changes the wine over time.
    The type of yeast in a lambic (which gives it the sour and funky components you obviously don't get from non-sour beers) is able to very slowly continue eating components of the beer that would be considered non-fermentable in regular beers. Remember, lambics have been fermenting for a couple years already when finally bottled. With additional aging, the beer tends to get funkier, and the acidity tends to lower somewhat.
    As others above have mentioned, it can be more complicated than that, since the yeast strains are more-or-less individual to the producer. Adding fruit is another variable.
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