Brouwerij Lindemans of Vlezenbeek, Belgium, is a very important entity in the lambic beer world. Lindemans, which was founded in 1822, produces a quality wort that is used by most of Belgium’s lambic blenderies: Bokke (formerly Bokkereyder) as well as De Cam, Hanssens, and Gueuzerie Tilquin. Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen also uses Lindemans lambics in many of their own blends, as does German lambic blender Uli Kremer, who crafts the h. ertie beers. The quality of Lindemans’ base lambic is very high, and is regarded as such by the lambic breweries and blenderies.
These lambic producers receive wort from Lindemans shallow, rectangular coolship the day after it has sat overnight and cooled after a brew day during Belgium’s cold winter nights, when lambic brewing conditions are ideal. The lambic blenders then pump the wort into their own barrels, age it, and later use the resulting lambics to blend their own gueuze or fruited lambics.
Lindemans has expanded their portfolio of products geared to the aficionado of traditional lambic beers in the last few years. These include SpontanBasil, a collaboration with Danish brewer Mikkeller that is a blend of 1 and 2 year-old lambics, fermented on oak with fresh basil herb added.
Managing Director Dirk Lindemans remarked: “Another new beer, from 2015, is our BlossomGueuze, which is a blend of 2 to 3 year old lambic aged in wood, blended with 12 month old lambic and elderflower. After refermentation in the bottle, this gueuze has a golden color, and combines the sour taste of lambic with the natural and fresh aromas of elderflower.”
Lindemans newest lambic beer is GingerGueuze, which is described by CEO Geert Lindemans this way: “GingerGueuze is a willful old gueuze enriched with ginger. After the in bottle re-fermentation, this gueuze takes on a cloudy, golden color in the glass. You experience the sour taste of lambic enriched with the natural, refreshing taste of ginger.”
Dirk Lindemans, who is a cousin of Geert Lindemans, added: “GingerGueuze pairs the sourish character of a lambic with the refreshing tastes and aromas of ginger. A complex, balanced beer with a dry and refreshing finish.” Geert Lindemans remarked: “With our ‘botanical lambics’ range, we are looking for new dimensions to add to our traditional old gueuze. Each new addition is the result of a long process of trial and error. It takes a while to find the right balance where the botanical gives a real added value to our traditional old gueuze. To see that our GingerGueuze follows in the footsteps of its awarded predecessors, SpontanBasil & BlossomGueuze, gives us great pleasure.”
I have tasted and enjoyed all of these new brews, which were all well received by lambic drinkers, perhaps even more so than Lindemans had expected. Dirk Lindemans had this to say: “The great success of SpontanBasil–an old gueuze macerated with fresh basil–was a little unexpected. It got us thinking about what herbs or botanicals would go well with a sour, old gueuze. With the elderflower we went for a more subtle flavor. We think that our BlossomGueuze is even a tad more accessible.”
I will admit that perhaps my favorite Lindemans brew is an old classic: Oude Kriek Cuvée René. This beer was first produced in 1961, and at that time simply called Lindemans Kriek. It was renamed Oude Kriek Cuvée René in 2007, and importation to the USA began in 2016, by Merchant du Vin of Seattle. I first tasted this beer sometime in the early 2000′s in Belgium, and brought bottles back to taste with friends stateside on a number of occasions. This brew has an alcohol content of 7% abv.
This dark-red brew has aromas of barnyard funk, oak barrels, and sour cherries, with a very pronounced dark sour cherry taste. Oude Kriek Cuvée René is moderately tart, and perhaps one of the most complex of the Lindemans beers. The cherries used are the famous Schaarbeekse Krieken, which are grown in the region of Brussels.
Geert Lindemans, who co-owns and jointly runs Lindemans with Dirk Lindemans, had this to say: “In order to produce Old Kriek Cuvée René, the cherries ferment in a lambic that is at least six months old in huge 10,000-liter oak barrels called fouders. After six months, this traditional kriek is bottled in corked 75 cl bottles. The beer will then undergo a spontaneous, second fermentation process which, after a few months, will produce the carbon dioxide (CO2) to which this authentic beer owes its carbonation and distinctive foam head.”
Dirk Lindemans describes Oude Kriek Cuvée René as such: “The taste is dry, and pleasantly tart, with a pure, fresh taste of cherries, pleasantly sour flavors, and a superb balance between the fruity and sour notes. The initial slightly sour taste that is contributed by the tannins in the cherry pits flows into a mildly fruity aftertaste that lingers for a while. It is a traditional kriek in all its splendor! Probably our most complex product.”
Oude Kriek Cuvée René also has a very attractive price point, and is readily available at most of Belgium’s better beer cafes and drink markets. In the U.S., 75 cl bottles retail for about $11 to $14, a great price for such a quality lambic.
Lindemans flagship gueuze, Oude Gueuze Cuvée René, has been available stateside since the 1990′s, and is one of the most readily available traditional Oude Gueuze beers in the U.S.A. Hence, it was the first gueuze tasted by many beer lovers here and in Belgium, and remains a gateway to the lambic beer world.
The rising popularity of traditional lambic beers in the last ten or so years, and of beer tourism to Belgium, led to many U.S.-based lambic lovers tasting the Oude Kriek Cuvée René at beer cafes in Belgium, as well as lambic focused events. These include several festivals held every year by De Lambikstoempers, the premier Zythos-affiliated beer appreciation and promotion club in Belgium’s lambic country. The club is based in Halle, a small city ten miles south of Brussels.
I like to think that I helped push Oude Kriek Cuvée René’s importation into the U.S. over the finish line with this previous on-line piece in All About Beer. Bottom line: seek out this delicious Oude Kriek, wherever you may find it!