Pairing with Specialty Beers
Though many Europeans would argue against putting Lambic and wheat beers in a category together, in the United States, where many people are most familiar with the light and crisp flavors of Coors and Budweiser, Lambic and wheat beers have an almost cult following. Steam beers appeared in Europe and America during the industrial revolution, prompting some to believe they were made with steam-engine power. However, their steam comes from using uncooled lager yeasts.
Belgian Lambic Beer
Belgian Lambic beer is distinguished by the use of wild yeasts. Spontaneous fermentation occurs as the result of leaving the beer in uncovered vats and allowing wild yeasts to develop of their own accord. In addition, the grain is 30 percent wheat and malted barley, and some describe the taste of Lambic beer as reminiscent of a fino sherry or a hard cider.
Flavors are all over the place, but often fruity. Cherries and raspberries are often added as flavoring, and combined with earthy aromas and tartness, Lambic beer is in a class of its own. Lambics pair well with sharp cheeses like Cheddar and aged Gouda, and with fruitier Lambics, try full-flavored Brie de Meaux and Camembert.
Wheat beers are made by adding substantial amounts of wheat to the barley mash. The results are particularly thirst quenching, low in alcohol, and sharply acidic from lactic fermentation. Wheat beers pair well with semihard cheeses like Cantal, Laguiole, medium-aged sheep's milk, and young Goudas.
Steam beers often vary in flavor more than traditional lager beers, often have distinct malt flavors, and take on unique fruity characteristics. Pair steam beers with robust nutty cheese like Gruyere or a hard, fruity table cheese like Piave.