Fruit Lambic

Glassware: Tulip
  • Belgium
  • Mixed Ferm
  • ABV = 5.0 – 7.0% (Normal to elevated)^
  • IBU = 0-10
  • SRM = 3-7 (varies with fruit)
A fruity, pleasantly sour, wild Belgian wheat beer showcasing a blend of fruit flavour and spontaneous fermentation character.

A Gueuze with fruit, not just a sour fruit beer; the “wild” character must be evident.


  • Colour^ = Varies with fruit
  • Clarity = Good

Key Aromas & Flavours:

  • Malt = None to low; lightly bready, grainy, honey, or wheat-like, if present
  • Hops = None
  • Yeast + Bacteria = Low to moderate; fruity esters (citrus fruit, citrus rind, pome fruit, rhubarb) / Moderate to high; barnyard, leather, earthy, goaty, hay, horsey or horse blanket “funk” / Moderate; acidity
  • Other = Specified fruit should be the dominant aroma
  • Malt = Low; bready, grainy
  • Hops = None
  • Yeast + Bacteria = Low to moderate; fruity esters (citrus fruit, citrus rind, pome fruit, rhubarb) / Moderate to high; barnyard, leather, earthy, goaty, hay, horsey or horse blanket “funk” / Moderate; acidity
  • Other = Noticeable flavour contributions from the added fruit (fruit flavours fade with age and lose their vibrancy, so can be low to high in intensity)
  • Perceived Bitterness^ = Low
  • Balance = Varies. When young, the beer will present its full fruity taste; with age, the “wild” lambic character will become dominant at the expense of the fruit. Acidity provides the balance, not bitterness.

Traditional versions are dry and tart; Modern versions may have a variable sweetness, which can offset the acidity


  • Body = Light
  • Carbonation = Varies from low to high
  • Astringency = Has a low to high tart, puckering quality without being sharply astringent
  • Alcohol warmth = Some versions have a light warming character

Characteristic Ingredients/Processes:

  • Malt = Pilsner malt, plus unmalted wheat
  • Hops = Aged continental hop varietals (3+ years); for preservation, not bitterness
  • Yeast + Bacteria = Spontaneously fermented
  • Other = Traditional fruits include tart cherries, raspberries; modern fruits include peaches, apricots, grapes, etc. (Note: The type of fruit can sometimes be hard to identify as fermented and aged fruit characteristics can seem different from the more recognizable fresh fruit aromas and flavours. Fruit can introduce acidity and tannins, in addition to aroma and flavour.)
  • Process = Spontaneously fermented with naturally occurring yeast and bacteria in well-used, neutral oak barrels. Produced like Gueuze (by blending and cellaring one, two, and three-year old lambic), with the fruit commonly added halfway through aging, so the yeast and bacteria can ferment all sugars from the fruit. Fruit may also be added to unblended lambic.

Historical Development:

Spontaneously fermented beer from the area in and around Brussels (the Senne Valley and Pajottenland) stemming from a farmhouse brewing and blending tradition several centuries old.

Fruit was traditionally added to lambic or Gueuze, either by the blender or publican, to increase the variety of beers available in local cafes. The most traditional styles of Fruit Lambic include kriek (cherries) and framboise (raspberries).

Some modern producers are sweetening their products (with natural or artificial sweeteners) post-fermentation to make them more palatable to a wider audience. Traditional versions are dry and tart, with a fermented fruit flavour.

Commercial Examples:

Boon Oude Kriek, 3 Fonteinen Schaerbeekse Kriek, Cantillon Vigneronne

^Sourced from the Cicerone Certification Program’s International Certified Beer Server Syllabus (Version 5.0)
All other information is sourced from the BJCP 2021 Style Guidelines.

Discovering Beer is not affiliated with or endorsed by the Cicerone® Certification Program.

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