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A wonderful post today from the Guerilla Gourmand, she is slowly but surely making a beer-liker out of me! (I really like the Belgian Lambics, they're more like fizzy juice than beer!)

“Beer? Why a post on beer? Bud is disgusting!”

I too think Bud is gross. I'm utterly unconvinced it's beer. But there really is a wonder world of beers out there if you would only give it a chance.

What is beer? Put simply, it is an alcoholic beverage made of malted barley, hops, yeast and water. They can be put into two general categories: lager or ale. The type of yeast determines the type of fermentation, which determines which one any given beer is. Lagers use yeast that ferments happiest at the bottom of the vat where it is at lower temperatures. Ales use yeasts that ferment best at the top of the vats where it is warmer.

Ales tend to have higher alcohol content, with slightly less carbonation and more bitterness. Lagers, which stems from the German word Lager which means “shelf”, are left to sit on the shelf and ferment more gently and for longer (hence the name). Lagers are light-bodied and usually paler.

For those who want extensive information, you can find a comprehensive list of beer styles here. It is 291KB and 33 pages of descriptions of every type of beer imaginable. (As a side note: the list was compiled by Charlie Papazian, the nuclear-engineer-turned-famous-homebrewer. He literally wrote the book on homebrewing, The Complete Joy of Homebrewing, known to be the bible of all homebrewers.)

This week’s challenge is to locate a Belgian Ale called a Lambic. Lindemans is a brand that you can normally find and is a pleasant introduction to unusual beers for the uninitiated. Lambics are famous for their unique tartness, and a great for an aperitif.

I would recommend trying the Lindemans Kriek (cherry) Lambic or the Framboise (Raspberry) Lambic if you can find them. I will say, though, the best Lambic is the “plain” flavor (i.e. no fruits involved) called Gueze which is the hardest to find. It has just the right balance of sweetness and tartness to be a refreshing drink that goes well with dinner.

Try it for yourself, and open your mind to the wonderful world of beers!

- The Guerilla Gourmand