February 16, 2011
By the time you read this, the insignificant nonsense that is Valentine’s Day will have come and gone. Nothing says “I love you” like the coerced and expected sentiments of the ubiquitous bundle of flowers, the tacky little heart pendant so special that hundreds of women are wearing one or worse, the flimsy negligee. Submission to a Hallmark card handgun at the back of every guy’s head… be romantic or else.
I know I’m not reinventing the wheel with my diatribe here and my behavior towards a phony-baloney holiday is, obviously, the ranting of the grumpy and single. Fine. I was actually going to offer some advice. Just in case any one out there is in the proverbial dog house over anything as thoughtful and passionate as a box of Russel Stover, I suggest buying your sweetie a lambic ale.
No, lambics have nothing to do with sheep. It’s thought their name derives from a town in Belgium, Lembeek, which is in relative proximity to Brussels. It is here in the Senne Valley of Belgium that very specific strains of wild yeast exist and are essential to the creation of lambic ale. In older days, ale was left in open top vats outdoors and wild yeast, blown about by the wind, would settle on top of the beer and begin spontaneous fermentation. Breweries today have modernized and, while the windows are left open for tradition’s sake, much of the wild yeast is already present in the timber tanks used to store the beer.
Using regular hops would end up causing too much bitterness so aged, dried hops are used instead imparting a woodsy, nutty quality while still acting as a preservative agent. The most popular style of lambic ale, outside of Belgium that is, is fruit lambic. Cherry, cassis, peach and apple are all classic styles but the one that speaks loudest to the spirit of Valentine’s Day is raspberry.
Known as “framboise” in the French dialects, what it says on the label is what you’re gonna get. Lindeman’s is loaded with tons of tart, jammy, lip-smacking raspberry. A deep, vinous scarlet red, almost bordering on purple, this framboise’s rich texture is sliced through by fizz and lots of it thanks to secondary fermentation prior to bottling. This is a flavorful and sexy beverage your beer-hating girlfriend’s going to appreciate more than a teddy bear with a playful saying across its tummy.