This beer recipe is featured in the March/April 2014 issue of Zymurgy magazine. Join the American Homebrewers Association or start your 30-day free trial to access the Zymurgy online archive and other exclusive member benefits!
This Belgian-style lambic’s impressively low pH and ABV create a surprisingly sour and funky beer even without fruit additions. Be sure to bring your patience, as this can take 18+ months of aging, but it will be well worth your wait!
The Singer’s Belgian-style Lambic | Straight (Unblended) Lambic
- 2.5 lb. (1.1 kg) soft, unmalted whole wheat berries (available in bulk at natural grocers)
- 2.8 lb. (1.3 kg) two-row malt
- 2.8 lb. (1.3 kg) six-row malt
- 1 lb. (454 g) rice hulls
- 4 oz. (113 g) 3-year-old, low–alpha acid noble hops (120 min)
- Wyeast 3763 Roeselare Ale Blend, with 1 quart starter
- Used 5-gallon barrel
- Original Gravity: 1.040
- Final Gravity: 0.999
- IBU: 10 (estimated)
- SRM: 3
Grind unmalted wheat berries in malt mill until the consistency of grits; this takes approximately four passes through. If in need of aged hops, ask your local shop if they have any “expired” hops. They are also available through online retailers. In a pinch, bake in the oven spread out on parchment paper at 160°F (71°C) for 6 hours.
Create yeast starter the day prior to brewing. Add 2 gallons (7.57 L) of water to milled wheat and bring to a boil to gelatinize the wheat. Boil 15 minutes while stirring constantly. Cool to 166°F (74°C) by adding approximately 2.5 cups (591 mL) cold water and stirring. Add 0.75 lb. (340 g) two-row and 0.75 lb. (340 g) six-row malt and add to mash tun. Let rest for 1 hour. Add remaining malt and rice hulls and 1.25 gallons (4.73 L) of 175°F (79°C) water and mash another hour. Sparge with enough 190°F (88°C) water to bring it to 7 gallons (26.5 L). This will help to avoid a stuck sparge, and husk tannin extraction is a minimal concern due to the use of the huskless berries. Additionally, any husk-derived compounds extracted from the malt will be consumed by Brettanomyces over the years.
Add hops and boil to reduce volume to 5 gallons, approximately 1.5 to 2 hours depending on your equipment. This length of boil should eliminate any cheesy flavors from the aged hops.
To maintain oxygen exposure, an actual barrel is preferred over a glass carboy, but oak spirals/chips can be used if necessary. Rack to barrel or carboy and ferment at 65°F (18°C). Age in barrel for up to three years. Tartness from the lambic cultures in the blend will develop by 18 months. Bottle using 5 ounces (140 g) of corn sugar to prime. Beer continues to improve in the bottle indefinitely.