Last week we talked a little about the Lambic Dreamer project, and whilst I have lots of other things to say about lots of other things, this week is also about the Lambic Dreamer, specifically the Greengage Lambic Dreamer. (Don't worry, next week will be about bitter again).
Gages are a sort of plum, and greengages are a green sort of gage. By all accounts (wikipedia) they originated in Iran and became pretty popular across Europe and the Americas due to their delicious sweetness when ripe. In fact, according to Humphrey the Plum Grower (yes, the very same man who grows hops), they're way sweeter than all other plums. He asserted this whilst tossing an unripened gage to me late one summer in his orchard. What he didn't tell me was how fantastically sharp and tart they are when unripe, in a bulldog/wasp kind of way (I discovered this for myself one bite later). Chefs love the sweetness of the ripe fruit and make compote with it, I loved the tartness of the unripe fruit and made some beer with it.
We had the fruits harvested unripe, and stored them cool, turning and checking them daily – the wise plum grower knows that when greengages are ready to ripen they go quickly, almost overnight, and I wanted to catch them at maximum (green) acidity, and minimum pluminess. As soon as the first gage softened we went to work, halving the fruits and dividing those halves between stoned halves and straight halves, immersing them in separate barrels of the same wild-fermented beer. After some months the beers were bottled and left for another year to allow for a decent secondary fermentation (it didn’t take that long for the wild yeasts to bring the beer into condition, but a global pandemic happened to be passing and scuppered plans for a timely release). They’re now good, and ready to drink.
As you know, the wild-fermented base beer is full of dry, refreshing complexity. This has now been joined by a large boost of tarty fruitness (and fruity tartness), adding a Sunday best dimension to the experience. It’s become the perfect beer to go with plum pudding in the garden on a summer’s day when the vicar visits and, whilst it isn’t exactly summer tomorrow, it should be dry, and we can’t go to the pub, so let’s invite the vicar round and get the plum pudding out the freezer. Tasting begins at 2pm (sharp) in the Brewery Garden, all welcome – I’ll bring the beer, you bring the pudding (and the vicar).