If you’re a beer geek or a thirsty traveler looking to expand your palate, you’ve probably heard the term “Lambic” thrown around in the craft beer world. But what is Lambic, anyway?

Lambic is a unique and fascinating style of beer that has captured the hearts of many connoisseurs worldwide.

In this blog post, we’ll dive into the history of Lambic, explore the production process, and discover the distinctive characteristics that make it so beloved.


Lambic, a beer style originating from the Pajottenland region of Belgium, has a rich and storied history.

The exact origins of Lambic can be traced back to the 18th century when it was brewed in the Brussels area.

What sets Lambic apart is its unique method of spontaneous fermentation, a process that utilizes wild yeast strains present in the environment rather than cultivated yeast. 

Over time, Lambic brewing became a tradition passed down through generations, with each brewery adding its distinct touch to the craft.

The popularity of Lambic has grown significantly over the years due to its distinct flavor profile and the increasing interest in craft and artisanal beers.

Lambic’s complexity and its ability to develop with age have made it a sought-after choice among beer enthusiasts.

Additionally, the surge in interest in sour beers has further propelled Lambic into the spotlight.

Pajottenland region of Belgium - What is Lambic?
Pajottenland region of Belgium

The Production Process:

One of the key elements that make Lambic special is its production process.

It all starts with a mixture of malted barley, wheat, and aged hops, known as wort, which is then boiled and allowed to cool in open vats, called Coolships.

These Coolships are a crucial part of the Lambic-making process, as they allow wild yeast strains from the environment to inoculate the wort naturally.

The wild yeast and bacteria, such as Brettanomyces, Lactobacillus, and Pediococcus, are what give Lambic its characteristic sourness and complex flavors.

The wort is then transferred to wooden barrels, where it undergoes spontaneous fermentation and maturation for an extended period, often up to several years.

The result is a beer that is complex, tart, and full of fruity, earthy, and funky flavors.

Coolship - What is Lambic?


Lambic is a beer with a character all its own. Some key characteristics make it unique:

  • Sourness: Lambic is known for its tartness, which ranges from mildly sour to intensely acidic.
  • Funky Aromas: The wild yeast strains used in Lambic brewing contribute to funky and earthy aromas, often described as “barnyard” or “horse blanket.”
  • Complex Flavor Profile: Lambic can have a wide range of flavors, including citrus, green apple, and oak notes.
  • Dry Finish: Despite its complexity, Lambic typically finishes dry, making it highly drinkable.

Styles of Lambic:

Lambic comes in various styles, each with its unique characteristics:

  • Gueuze: A blend of young and old Lambics, Gueuze is effervescent and often comes in champagne-like bottles.
  • Fruit Lambic: Lambics infused with fruits such as cherries (Kriek) or raspberries (Framboise), adding a delightful fruity twist.
  • Faro: Sweetened Lambics, often enjoyed as a refreshing beverage in the summer months.
World Beer Expedition at Cantillon - What is lambic?
WorldBeerExpedition – Trip 2023

Cantillon Brewery: The Lambic Legend

When it comes to Lambic, one name stands out: Cantillon Brewery.

Located in the heart of Brussels, Cantillon is a family-owned brewery that has been producing Lambic for over a century.

Their commitment to traditional brewing methods and the use of open fermentation and wooden barrels has made them an iconic figure in the Lambic world.

If you’re interested in learning more about Lambic, a visit to the Cantillon Brewery and the nearby Cantillon Museum of Gueuze is an absolute must.

Cantillon in Belgium
Time doesn’t respect what is done without it

Sour Beer in the USA:

Lambic has a long history in Europe, but it’s also found a dedicated following in the United States.

American craft brewers have embraced sour beers, and many are experimenting with wild yeast strains and barrel aging.

Sour beer festivals and clubs have sprung up across the country, reflecting the growing appreciation for Lambic-style beers.

Many American beer lovers appreciate Lambic’s intricate flavors and unique place in the world of sour beers.

As Lambik continues to gain recognition, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a staple in the glasses of American beer lovers.

A Journey into Lambic

Lambic is a gem of the beer world, known for its rich history, complex production process, and distinct characteristics.

If you’re curious about it, a visit to the Cantillon Brewery in Belgium, with its Museum of Gueuze, is an opportunity to immerse yourself in the culture and traditions of Lambic brewing.

For those in the United States and beyond, the love for this beer is growing, and it’s a journey worth embarking upon.

Why not take the plunge and join a World Beer Expedition to Belgium to savor the unique flavors of LambiksLambik for yourself?

As you explore the world of Lambic, you’ll discover a truly remarkable beer that continues to captivate the hearts of beer enthusiasts across the globe.

Don’t miss the chance to embark on this flavorful adventure and experience the magic of Lambic.

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