The first English language edition of the Lambic Academy takes place on April 29th at the De Lambiek visitor centre in Alsemberg outside Brussels. Organised by HORAL, a body dedicated to protecting lambic beers, the course aims to educate people about Belgium’s most complex and challenging beer style.
“Generally speaking lambic fell out of favor with the previous generation and has only become popular again in recent years,” says Gert Christiaens owner of Oud Beersal, a lambic blender outside Brussels. “So we lack people to pass on the knowledge of these beers to the current generation.”
The academy will focus on how to serve, smell and taste lambic beers, while schooling people in the beer’s idiosyncratic brewing methods. It’s targeted at professionals who work with lambic: bartenders, drinks distributers as well as importers are expected to attend. “The idea is that these people will become ambassadors, and spread the knowledge further,” adds Christiaens.
Out of Belgium’s many beer styles, lambic is certainly one that needs to be explained. Because of its sourness, people sometimes have the impression that the beer has gone bad when trying it for the first time. “Bartenders need to be ready for this. They need to explain why a lambic beer is sour and that there are different types of sourness. The basic sourness of lambic comes from lactic acidity, which although softer than acetic acidity, is still an acquired taste.”
Christiaens adds that bartenders don’t need to explain the whole lambic brewing process although they should have a good understanding of it.
“Many people talk about the lambic process, but how many people really know it?” You can read a lot of information on the internet. But it’s not all correct. We’re not going to teach people how to make lambic, but we will talk about each step of the process and explain why you should take these steps. If you understand this then you can give good feedback to your customers.”
Serving lambic beer is also something that shouldn’t be taken for granted. “The head of foam on a lambic beer like an Old Gueuze can disappear quite quickly. But there are techniques to ensure a more stable head. The glass must be dry, and it must be dried by hand, with a microfiber tower.
Details like this make all the difference, which is why the Lambic Academy is so important.”
For more information and to sign up see: http://www.horal.be/en/lambic-academy