Back to the future
As you may know, Lambic and wooden barrels have been inseparable partners for centuries.
Until recently I would have never even imagined myself putting my beer into anything besides a barrel, and yet… And yet, a blind wine tasting session completely changed my vision of things. On that occasion I tasted something which truly caused me to lose my composure. Its exceptional fragrance and finish, unbelievable complexity bringing together fruitiness, freshness and minerality made it incomparable with a “traditional” wine. There was clearly something different at work here, but what?
Thankfully, Gabrio Bini, an Italian winemaker, was present at the restaurant organising the event and I soon understood that he would be able to answer my numerous questions. Gabrio’s wines are produced in Sicily and matured in, wait for it, amphoras! He spoke to me about his amphoras with such passion and enthusiasm that I very quickly started imagining putting my Lambic into this type of container. After all, what could make better sense than putting a centuries-old beer like Lambic in a container which has been around since antiquity!
The winemakers currently experimenting with amphoras are all producers of natural wines (organic or biodynamic techniques) fermented without the use of additional yeast. By the way, this is another element such wines have in common with traditional Lambic. In any case, the approach here involves optimally oxygenating the liquid and subjecting it to lower temperatures to favour slower fermentation.
I’m happy to say that the entire team at Cantillon is very impatient about getting started with this new project. In fact, besides just being curious about the results we’ll obtain with this kind of maturing approach, letting Lambic age in amphoras makes us feel a bit as if we were travelling far back in time.
Some time ago, 12 amphoras of 200 litres each arrived at the brewery. After soaking them in water to make them less porous, they were filled with the Lambic produced during the 19th brewing session of season O (which took place on 26 January 2012).
Rest assured that we’ll keep you updated on how the fermentation process develops and, assuming things go well, start making plans for a tasting session this fall.