Tag Archives: Lindemans

#157 – Lindemans Tea Beer

#157 - Lindemans Tea Beer

Size: 250 ml

ABV: 3.5 %

The rather adventurous Lindemans Tea Beer was first brewed in 1995; a lambic beer brewed with barley, malt, wheat and hops, albeit fermented and matured with tea leaves. The concept of a tea beer completely fascinated me when I spotted this beer on the shelf of an expensive beer shop in Bruges, even more so with its Japanese label – I had to have one.

The whole tea beer thing rather got me thinking, and being English it struck me that beer and tea are about the most popular drinks over here. Everybody knows the fascination of the English with tea, and we aren’t too shy when it comes to beer either. I wondered which one might be ultimately better for you. It might seem an obvious answer especially if not drunk in moderation, but then I discovered an article from an 1822 book called Cottage Economy. The author William Cobbett takes some time to spell out the virtues of both. Tea drinkers, and women – look away now!

The context behind the article was that this was a time when tea was largely taking the place of beer in society, taxes on beer were rising steeply and Mr William Cobbett was rather less than pleased about it. He starts his tirade by arguing that tea weakens the human body for labour as opposed to strengthening it as beer does. He likens the rush from tea to a quick fix you might get through opiates (laudanum), and that tea will inevitably enfeeble a human being. He goes as far as suggesting tea is ‘a destroyer of health, an enfeebler of the frame, an engenderer of effeminacy and laziness, a debaucher of youth, and a maker of misery for old age’. This is based around the argument that in fifteen bushels of malt there are 570 pounds of pure nutrition, as opposed to just 84 pounds in tea. In fact he goes as far as saying that a lean pig will be able to provide all the bacon you need if you feed him beer, but die of hunger on tea.

He doesn’t stop at paralytic pigs. He also makes a fairly decent argument that the contemporary woman (because of course female emasculation is yet just a twinkle in the eye) spends the best part of her day brewing tea where she could be helping in the fields. Beer of course whence made just needs pouring. Womankind gets a further battering in his summing up, whereby he suggests that the ‘gossip of the tea-table is no bad preparatory school for the brothel’, and that ‘the everlasting dawdling about, with the slops of the tea-tackle, gives them a relish for nothing that requires strength and activity’.

So there you have it. The next time you hear somebody tell you beer is bad for you, point them in the direction of William Cobbett, although I can wholly verify that tea beer is bad for you – well at least it must be for your teeth. It was painfully sweet, and to be honest I couldn’t tell the difference between this and a can of cold iced tea. To be fair it would have been a refreshing drink in the warm sunshine, but as a beer to drink after a long day at work it was simply an aberration.

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Filed under 5, Lambic - Fruit, Lindemans

#109 – Pecheresse

#109 - Pecheresse

Size: 250 ml

ABV: 2.5 %

Some people after a severe night on the tiles (of the Scrabble variety of course) take a glass of water to bed with them to cure the inevitable hangover. Belgian beer connoisseurs of course, of which I was now surely worthy of calling myself, pick up their nearest fruit beer and down that with a paracetamol or two. The Pecheresse by Lindemans weighed in at a meagre 2.5%, which would be a perfect nightcap.

Pecheresse is a beer created by adding peach juice to the typical Lindemans lambic base. It’s a formula which has tended to work well for Lindemans over the years. The name is an interesting take on the the French term ‘peche’ for peach, and ‘pecheresse’ which translates as a female sinner; who we see draped exotically across the typically attractive Lindemans label. The message is clearly one of seduction, although at this late stage of the night it was certainly more about sedation for me.

The idea for Pecheresse may well have come from the medieval French play of the same name, which tells the story of a young girl who after enduring watching her parents die under the weight of extreme poverty, becomes tempted by Satan to prostitute herself to a life of vice in order to give her mother and father a better life. Good of course prevails over evil, just as it does in the Joan Crawford and Clark Gable film of the same name (The Laughing Sinners) which was released in 1931, where the title character finally chooses strength of moral character over that of fleeting erotic desire.

A label depicting a semi-naked woman would normally have to work a lot harder to tempt me to drink this kind of rubbish, but it was late, I was away from the wife, and I’d had about the equivalent of ten pints. I have since confessed my sins,  and to be fair I quite enjoyed it at the time. Fortunately when I woke in the morning with a pulsing head, and a mouth like a bear’s armpit, the hazy recollection of a brief dalliance with this harlot of the night had been consigned to the recycling. Nothing more needs to be said.

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#95 – Cantillon Kriek 100% Lambic

#95 - Cantillon Kriek

Size: 375 ml

ABV: 5 %

Cantillon has five entries in the ‘Top 100 Belgian beers to try before you die’ – it would have been more but the authors felt it might skew the book somewhat. As we have previously ascertained there were hundreds of lambic brewers and blenders in Brussels in yesteryear (#89), but now there is just this one.

The Cantillon Kriek is renowned for its quality, and having only drunk the Lindemans Kriek (#78) on this journey so far, I thought I would use this opportunity to share how Cantillon make theirs as an exemplar to all thriving replicants.

The lambic beer is already sitting waiting when the cherries arrive by lorry on what is hopefully a warm summers afternoon. Cantillon usually buy theirs from auction at St. Truiden, resulting in thousands of kilos of the Kellery variety. About 150kg of this rich fruit is put in each 650 litre capacity barrel, and then the appropriate one and half year old lambics are chosen to add to the barrels. It is essential that the lambics chosen are healthy as it would spoil the beer at this stage. The unhealthy ones will have to wait, but Cantillon are experts at knowing which lambics to use, and curing those that aren’t.

Once the barrels are filled, the hole is sealed with a sheet of paper to avoid impurities reaching the mix, but still leaving the barrels open to the natural yeasts. Within about five days the fermentation fires up, whereby the sugars from the lambic and cherries start to activate the yeasts that are sitting in the wood and in the skin of the cherries. It is here that the amazing rich red colours begin to form. As the brewers here tend to start at the same time each summer, they are prepared for the fermentation to wind down around the 10th August, whereupon the barrels are finally closed, and the acids in the lambic begin to leach all the flavour and remaining colour from the cherries. Spiders are a key part of the result at this stage as they prove to be better than any insecticide, protecting the environment from infection and encouraging the perfect natural equilibrium.

It doesn’t end here as the Kriek then gets a secondary fermentation in the bottle from the beginning of October. This is either done by mixing young lambics with the kriek, or by refilling the original barrel with lambic to mix with the left over pulp. All that remains then is to let the beer sit for about three to five months where it will saturate, and then it is ready for the discerning drinker. It can spoil if left too long and therefore drinkers are advised to imbibe within a year of bottling, although of course that is a matter of personal taste.

Speaking of which, I am probably still coming to terms with the whole lambic taste. I was expecting the rich sanguine flavours of the cherries to engulf me as the Lindemans had, but the overriding experience was still one of sourness and mustiness. Once you open the cork, and you get past the strong cidery nose, you just don’t expect something so flat. I enjoyed sipping it and rolling it around my oralities but yet again I am not sure whether it’s truly for me. I will keep working on it as there are plenty more to come.

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#84 – Lindemans Framboise

#84 - Lindemans Framboise

Size: 375 ml

ABV: 2.5 %

Lindemans have always been a well known lambic brewer following their decision to export to the United States in 1979 – the first Lambic producer to do so.  The US remains a large part of their market, although in 2007 they began to export to Asia, in particular large amounts to China, and now have added Russia to their fanbase. Lindemans have remained an interesting brewery in that they have stayed loyal to the lambic concept, but yet have adapted well to the modern market in creating tasty and attractive beers for different markets.

It is a far cry though from 1809, when the Lindemans family owned a small farm in Vlezenbeek on the outskirts of Brussels. They found during the winter months that there was less farming to do, and thus more time to make the lambic beer they were dabbling with, and could easily make with the left over wheat and barley that grew on their land. The lambic eventually became so popular, that in 1930 all farming ceased at Vlezenbeek, and all attention turned to brewing a Kriek (#78) and a Gueuze. Faro (#59) followed in 1978, followed by a succession of Fruit lambics in the early eighties, which of course included the highly popular Lindemans Framboise. These are particularly low strength beers, just 2.5% for the Framboise, and yet they remain extremely tasty and certainly do not taste that weak.

That said, I was disappointed with this Framboise. Although it is made with lambic beer, I have to hold my hands up and say I preferred the Bacchus Frambozenbier (#38) which is made with syrups mixed with sour brown ale. I did enjoy the Kriek much more and would chose this one from the plentiful supplies in your typical UK supermarket. The end result was certainly something that felt more potent than 2.5% but it was overpoweringly rich and sweet and I was surprised my teeth were still intact come the end. Sorry, Lindemans but I blow a raspberry in your direction on this one !

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#78 – Lindemans Kriek

#78 - Lindemans Kriek

Size: 375 ml

ABV: 3.5 %

It is remarkable to think that it has taken 78 beverages of the Belgian variety to finally cross paths with a Kriek. I am not a massive fan of cherries, especially the darker kind that are traditionally used in beers, but it is almost impossible to drink a decent Kriek and not enjoy it. Lindemans is hardly the pinnacle of Lambic, but this Kriek is a seriously tasty little number.

Kriek is a recognised style of Belgian Beer, which is historically and traditionally created by fermenting authentic lambic beer with sour cherries. The addition of the cherries tends to kick-start a brand new fermentation in the oak barrels over a period of usually six to twelve months, by which time the residue is filtered and bottled for the delectation of the customer. This is the hardcore purist Kriek methodology, but it can be manufactured slightly to ensure similar results. As an example, Lindemans recognise the limited availability of the “schaerbeekse” cherries which traditionally comprise the Kriek, and therefore have developed a methodology whereby they add pure cherry juice to the lambic blends of different ages. I will certainly come across more pure Kriek lambics on this journey whereby either real cherries will be steeped in the vat, or even the rare “schaerbeekse”, however the resultant Lindemans was good enough for me.

The good news for those in the UK, is that this beer is readily available in most supermarkets at a reasonable price. Just make sure if you take one to a picnic that you have a corkscrew, as this is not something you would normally need to open a beer. Once you finally prize out the cork, you are faced with the startling cherry vapour and then the wonderful smells on pouring. The deep red colour was eerily sanguine, and although sweet on the tongue, was equally sour enough to remind us of the spontaneous fermentation. I have to say this is a fruit beer that will satisfy more the everyday drinker than the connoisseur, but surely even they wouldn’t turn this down on a warm summers day. It’s even perfectly designed to be a drink for a designated driver at 3.5%, assuming of course they know when to stop!

(Post-Script) – the first real opportunity to taste a pure kriek lambic came with the Cantillon Kriek 100% Lambic (#95).

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#59 – Lindemans Faro

#59 - Lindemans Faro

Size: 250 ml

ABV: 4.8 %

This is the first Faro of the Odyssey, and the Lindemans is probably the most well-known Faro with its black Art-Nouveau label. This particular one was first brewed by Lindemans in 1978, however it is quite different from the original Faro recipe, which was a much lower-alcohol beer, blended from lambic and a lighter fresh beer known as a meertsbier. Brown sugar, or sometimes caramel or molasses were then added to sweeten it. Because the lambic was weakened with the lesser beer or in some cases water, it was often the cheapest beer on the market in olden days, and seen as the drink of the working man. In those days the sugar was normally added at the end, shortly before serving and therefore had little effect on the strength or carbonation of the final product.

Nowadays brewers tend not to use meertsbier, but still blend old lambics with younger lambics and then use brown sugar or brown sugar substitutes to add to the bottle, which is then pasteurised to prevent the re-fermentation while it sits. A modern day Faro never really hits the high strengths of other beers, but at 4.8% is still a dangerous one to drink chilled in the warm sunshine as its sweetness ensure it glides down far too easily. I hadn’t been feeling particularly well on this afternoon, and so this was a perfect beer to try and pick me up.

I didn’t expect the reddish colour of this beer, but of course this is a result of the brown candied sugar added to the bottle. It smelt quite sour, although not quite of the potency of a Rodenbach Grand Cru (#17), and the initial head and fizz subsumed quickly. Ice cold from the fridge this was very enjoyable though, and was a great mix of sweet and sour. It held up well to the last drop, but the odd hints of strawberry and Vimto put me off somewhat in giving it a more generous score. As I have a sweet tooth this I found more amenable than the only gueuze (#12) I had tried so far.

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Filed under 7, Lambic - Faro, Lindemans