Recently I have been in sombre mood over some of the developments in the beer market. Certainly the trends of hazys , pastry stouts and milkshake beers don’t fill me with joy. Also as someone who comes to all this from the food side of things the way these trends take beer further and further from the table makes me sad. This blog from Will Hawkes is a good read . I disagree with his conclusion that beer doesn’t need to be at the table and with his contention about wines superiority but the first part is spot on.
But its not all doom and gloom. The changing fortunes of Lambic and Flanders Sour Red / Brown breweries in the current climate and the developing taste for beers like these made outside of Belgium is cause for celebration. It wasn’t so long ago that the traditional producers of these wild beers were struggling. The larger of the lambic producers were putting more and more emphasis on heavily sweetened often stainless steel aged fruit variants that a population weaned on coca cola could take to easily. The Cantillion , Drie Fonteinen, Girardin and Hanssens of the world were seen as being a quirky dying breed.
Things have changed. Now not only are the beers from these producers in high demand, but the Timmermans and Morte Subites of the world are producing more traditional products alongside the sweetened lines. Brewers in the new world are also producing and selling wild beers in increasing numbers. That I can buy lambics and sell my own spontaneous beers is amazing and I need to remember that when I get my moan on. Ten years ago selling the beers I sell now would of been a much harder road.
These beers are in essence the opposite of the beers that take beer further and further from the table. The best way to introduce someone to a geuze or a Flanders Red is to present it with food and in their homeland they tend to be served with at least a little cheese. A great way to spend an afternoon and a sure way to put a smile on my face and banish my old man grump.