lambic beer

Lambic – The wine-minded beer

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Lambic, thought to be the oldest beer in the western world, may also be the most unusual and most polarizing: Some see it as the ultimate expression in the art of brewing; others don’t think of it as beer at all.
True Lambic is produced in a specific part of Belgium, where the style originated. If made here, the beer is “Lambic-inspired.”  Because of its fermentation style, it’s one of the closest beers to wine, expressing a sense of place, or terroir.

Exposed to wild yeasts and bacteria — as opposed to cultivated strains of brewer’s yeast — the beer develops distinctively dry, vinous and cider-like flavors with high acidity and a sour aftertaste. Brettanomyces (Brett), a volatile yeast strain typically unwelcome in both breweries and wineries, dominates Lambic’s fermentation, delivering the funky, earthy, tart flavors people either love or hate. Click here to Read the full article with reviews of Oregon lambic-inspired beers.

barrel being fired

Barrel of possibilities – oak programs a matter of taste

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It’s no secret: Winemakers take their barrels very seriously, which makes the following true story sound almost comical. When asked which is his most important tool in barrel selection? Steve Girard, owner of Benton-Lane Winery, replies: “My cheese grater.”

The longtime winemaker told the story about how his cooperage, the company that makes barrels, started sending him different barrels from what he’d selected. On his next barrel trip to Burgundy, he brought a cheese grater with him. Walking among the impressively tall stacks of drying staves, he rubbed them with his grater. He noted the aromatics, which he later compared to the barrels he was shipped. If they didn’t match his descriptions, he returned the barrels.

Much like an artist’s palette adds vibrancy and dimension to a canvas, a winemaker’s choice of barrel has a significant impact on wine. And like the painter’s range of color, there’s a multitude of options in a cooperage. From the type of wood (oak, acacia, chestnut…) to the wood’s origin (Oregon, France, Hungary, Russia…), to the grain, the toast, the size of vessel and whether the barrel is new, used or neutral, all these elements impart specific aromas, flavors and textures to a wine.

(Read the full story here on Oregon Wine Press.)