Thursday, April 17, 2008

Quick update: I've found, or rather, this nice man here has found me, some 19thC sources on lambic that are (thank God!) not in Flemish.

They're in German.

Die in Belgien sehr berühmten Brüsseler Biere, Lambik, Faro, Mars, werden durch Selbstgährung der Würze erhalten. Man bringt die Würze ohne Zusatz von Hefe, auf Fässer in temperirte Magazine oder Keller, in denen die Gährung bald schon nach einigen Tagen, bald erst nach Monaten eintritt, 8 bis 10 Monate dauert, ja sich bis 20 Monate hinzieht. Die Würze für Lambik, welche 12 bis 15 Proc. zeigt, attenuirt dabei auf 5 bis 2.5 Proc. Der Geruch nach Hopfen verliert sich ganz. Das Product hat einen feinen, weinartigen Geruch, welchem aber der Geschmack keineswegs entspricht; dieser ist bitter, hart, säuerlich und macht ein Verschneiden des Bieres, Vermischen mit jungem oft auf gewöhnliche Weise gebrautem Biere, ferner mit Zucker, Syrup unerlässlich.

But German is a heckuva lot easier to find dictionaries for than Flemish, and I know a little bit more about its grammar, and I have awesome friends who have helped me when I needed it. So here, ladies and gentlemen, you have my inexpert and potentially dangerously misleading translation of a paragraph from pg 1070 of this book:

The famous Belgian beers from Brussels, Lambic, Faro, and Mars, are made from self-fermenting wort. The wort is put into barrels in a temperature-controlled storage room or basement without the addition of yeast. Here, the fermentation starts after a few days, or sometimes only occurs after months; it takes eight to ten months, and sometimes drags on up to 20 months. Lambic wort, with an extract of 12 to 15 degrees [1.048-1.060], attenuates to 2.5 to 5 degrees [1.010-1.020]. The hops have already lost their aroma. The product has a fine, winelike smell, but this in no way corresponds to the taste, which is bitter, hard, and sour. This makes blending essential. It is mixed with young, often ordinarily-brewed beers, and furthermore with sugar or syrup.
Just for the fun of it, here's what Google thinks it says:

The very famous in Belgium Brussels beers Lambik Faro Mara by Selbstgährung You get the spiciness brings Wune without the addition of yeast to Falser in tempcrirte magazines or Kelier where Gähnmg soon, soon after a few days only occurs naci 8 months to 10 months yes until 20 months drags The wort for what Lambik l 2 to 15 Proc shows attennirt on 5 to 21 aProc The smell after hops lost gim The product has a fine weinartigen smell what you taste, but no, this is hard jitter and säuerüti makes a blending of beer mixing with young often on ordinary AVeise gebrautem beers also with sugar syrup HDP lässlich
So, any German-speakers out there, please set me right. I don't speak your language.

It's interesting to note that, in the nineteenth century, the koelschip stage (where the wort was cooled overnight in shallow pans exposed to the air) was entirely missing - they must have relied purely on the microbes resident in their barrels.

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