Lambic Blending Seminar

Bazi Bierbrasserie

Bazi Bierbrasserie

I’ve been meaning to vist Bazi Bierbrasserie since I moved to the Portland area, but never got around to it. As I was browsing the weekends beer events I noticed they were hosting a Lambic Blending Seminar. Perfect opportunity for me to kill two birds with one stone.

Artisanal Imports and Powered by Yeast ran the hour and half event where they discussed briefly the history of labmics and the process of blending. During the seminar we were given 5 different samples containing various blends of old and young beers, as well as a commercial example of a sour (non-blended). A young beer is a very mild beer used for blending with an old beer which is a very sour and acetic beer. Both beers are brewed with the same wort, in this case 70% barley malt and 30% wheat, but the young beer is pitched with yeast while the old beer is introduced to wild yeast. Blending is done to achieve a consistent product, as it is nearly impossible to brew the same beer twice when dealing with wild yeast and bacteria that inoculate the beer overnight in the coolship.

The young and old beers are not available for sale and wouldn’t be found outside of the brewery. For this seminar the brewer painstakingly kegged a 5 gallon keg of the old beer from a oaken foeder, as well as supplying a 5 gallon keg of their young beer.

100% Young beer

100% Young beer

One of the things that surprised me during the seminar was discovering that like America, most Belgians drink Pilsners, and not delicious lambics, flanders and other unique Belgian beers. Most breweries focus on Pilsner production with a small amount of equipment dedicated to wild beers. The actual young beer we tasted is actually fermented with lager yeast and not ale yeast, since it’s so readily available in the brewery.

Sample #1: 100% Young Beer – The beer was very light and frankly pretty bland. It was slightly sweet with no real yeast character.

Sample #2: 75% Young Beer / 25% Old Beer – This one sort of reminded me of a Berliner Weisse. Some sweetness and wheat character with a little bit of a tart finish.

Sample #3: 50% Young Beer / 50% Old Beer – This blend was excellent and would probably be the best for a newbie to sour beers. Its tart and refreshing but not so sour as to turn someone off who isn’t familiar with these types of beers. There is also a little bit of funk present.

Sample #4: 25% Young Beer / 75% Old Beer – This blend was my personal favorite. It’s much funkier and has more of a sour bite than the 50/50 blend. I get more of the brettanomyces character and acetic flavors.

Sample #5: 100% Old Beer – Unblended, and super sour. This one made me pucker and the sourness lingers a good bit. Tons of acidity. I can easily see how this is used to blend with the bland 100% young beer to come up with a decent sour.

Sample #6: Cuvèe des Jacobins Rouge – This beer was much sweeter with softer acetic flavors. There is also some fruitiness present. This beer is created by blending the 100% old beer with some malt extract to give it the red hue and sweetness.

This was a very unique and interesting event and it was fun trying the various blends. Unanimously most agreed that my favorite, the 25% young / 75% old, was the best blend.

Blending is something I’d like to get into in the future. For example I’ve had a not so sour beer that I’ve bottled, as well as another sour that is still aging that is already month puckering sour. It would be fun to get more batches going so that I have the option of blending if one gets too sour or not sour enough.