Never mind your culture, your ancient history, your opulent architecture, or the thrill of experiencing different customs. Spectacular scenery? Blah! The great thing about traveling, for me at least, is all those different local beers to sample. Of course I’m a far more rounded character than that (whaddya mean literally?!). I don’t travel to far-flung places just to drink the local beer – that would be ridiculous – especially in a country like Spain which isn’t particularly noted for its diverse microbrew scene. No, I’ll drink locally imported beer too.
And so it was that last year in Spain, whilst perusing the aisles of a French supermarket chain, this Scotsman spied, bought and drank a tasty Belgian beer. How’s that European unity?
– Timmermans Peche Lambic
The Timmermans Brewery was founded in 1781 and is one of the last remaining breweries where Lambic beer is still produced in the traditional way. It’s now under the control of John Martin.
Lambic is a style of beer that dates from before the 13th Century. It is only brewed in and around Brussels and the Senne Valley to the south east, and usually only between October and May as high temperatures can spoil the fermentation.
Lambic’s are brewed using 40% unmalted wheat and 60% barley, and undergo a spontaneous fermentation from naturally occurring airborne yeast and bacteria native to that particular area. They are light-bodied, cloudy yellow, very lightly hopped, and slightly sour or citric in taste, and are usually flavoured with fruits such as cherries, raspberries, blackcurrants, or in this case, peaches.
Timmerman’s adds 33% peach juice to this beer, not whole peaches as the stones would affect the brew.
“Peche Lambic is obtained by adding 100% natural peach juice to the Lambic resting in oak casks. The fruit itself is not added because the stone is too bitter and might change the taste of the beer. Savour this fruity beer with is creamy head in a champagne tulip…Nobless Oblige.”
Timmermans Peche pours a slightly hazy, dark yellow colour with a billowing, foamy head which dissipates fairly quickly, but still leaves a thin froth which in turn leaves plenty of lace clinging to the glass.
The aroma is of strong, ripe fruit – especially peaches (who would’ve thought it) and lots of woody tones. It smells sweet – almost honey-like, and there’s a faint leafy, tea-like quality. The alcohol’s quite noticeable on the nose too, very reminiscent of peach schnapps.
It’s very light-bodied and has a tingly, sparkling mouthfeel.The initial taste is sweet and fruity with obvious peaches, but then you’re hit almost immediately by a sour, tart and very dry, bite. It’s sticky, and the sweetness is a little cloying, but the sour flavours balance this out with a contrasting, fruity tartness – like gooseberries or greengages. It’s well carbonated, but never in that nasty, gaseous way. There’s a faint nutty flavour – almonds perhaps – before a dry, lingering finish and an aftertaste of bittersweet fruit.
At 5% ABV, I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed this beer. It’s pretty complex, with a lot going on, but still seemed a simple, refreshing drink. It would be perfect served well chilled on a summer day, but I don’t think it would go well with many foods. Probably better just to sit back, watch the grass grow, and sip.
I don’t think it could be described as a session ale by any stretch of the imagination and in fact, one or two bottles of this at any one sitting would be more than enough.
Having said that, it is very pleasant and I would say it could hold its own against any other beer of the style.
Would I drink it again? – Do peaches grow on trees?