Podcast Episode 364: Lambic is Science, Not Sorcery, for Thomas Vandelanotte of Timmermans

For the brewmaster of Timmermans—the three-century-old lambic brewery in Itterbeek, just west of Brussels—studying and understanding the dynamics of spontaneous fermentation and wood-aging is the key to making beer with captivating flavor.

Jamie Bogner Jun 14, 2024 - 6 min read

Podcast Episode 364: Lambic is Science, Not Sorcery, for Thomas Vandelanotte of Timmermans  Primary Image

Photo: Craft Beer & Brewing

Subscribe to the Craft Beer & Brewing Podcast:

Mythmaking and superstition may play a role in others brewers’ approaches to making lambic, but for Thomas Vandelanotte—brewmaster for Belgian breweries Timmermans, Bourgogne de Flandres, and Waterloo—science is a far better tool for achieving great-tasting beer that people want to drink over and over again.

“I think it’s important, first of all, to not talk about lambic as a wonder of nature, but it’s something that can be completely scientifically followed-up,” Vandelanotte says.
To that end, he and his team have engaged in deep study of their own brewery environment, the dynamics at play through fermentation and aging, and every barrel or foeder that finds its way into an oude gueuze blend. Their goal is balanced beer—flavorful, citric, not too acidic—and they’re intentional in both adhering to the historical parameters of lambic brewing while also using all the modern abalyticak tools at their disposal.

In this episode, Vandelanotte discusses:

  • the 118 different yeasts they’ve found in their environment and fermenting beer
  • growth dynamics over time of different yeasts in lambic
  • the similarity of young fermenting lambic to New England IPA
  • using oxidized hop pellets without destroying what’s good about the hops themselves, because “lambic is not the [trash] bin of the hops industry”
  • avoiding low-oil hop varieties and embracing hops of various origins, including U.S. hops
  • the origin of barnyard character in lambic
  • using a variety of barrel sizes and foeders for different fermentation and wood impacts
  • analysis of foeders and barrels to build statistical basis for a theoretical blend that’s confirmed or adjusted through sensory
  • flavor differences in types of acid that don’t track to titrations
  • open fermentation at Bourgogne de Flandres to drive ester production
  • fermentation dynamics in oud bruin

And more.

G&D Chillers
At G&D Chillers they always strive to Build Great Chillers. Partner with them as you Build Great Beer. Josh Erickson from Chafunkta Brewing company says, "The team at G&D were a critical part of our 10x expansion, always just a phone call or email away, and thanks to their superior equipment, technology, and documentation, commissioning our new chiller was smooth and straightforward. Now we can't wait until we need to upgrade our existing chiller!" Choose G&D Chillers on your next Expansion or Brewery start up and receive 1 free year of Remote control and Monitoring of your new G&D Chiller!

ProBrew Logo 200px
ProBrew is the industry partner that brewers trust to take their operations to the next level, especially when it comes to canning their product for distribution. By partnering with ProBrew, brewers can fill and seam their canned product at ranges from 100–600 cans per minute. Our unique filling process also ensures low dissolved oxygen pickup and focuses on product quality during the entire process. For more information, visit probrew.com or email us at [email protected]. ProBrew, Brew YOUR Beer.

Old Orchard logo 200px
Are you struggling to source affordable citrus ingredients because of market fluctuations? Try Old Orchard’s flavored craft juice concentrate blends, which mimic straight concentrates at a better price point and with a more reliable supply. Old Orchard’s citrus flavored blends include Blood Orange, Grapefruit, Lemonade, Lime, and Tangerine. To learn more and request your free samples, head over to oldorchard.com/brewer.

Experience distinct transparency and juiciness with Omega Yeast’s DayBreak-V (pronounced "five"). Using their Lumina technology, Omega genetically eliminated haze in the popular British-V strain, allowing you to preserve the fruit-boosting prowess while achieving crystal clarity. Perfect for modern West Coast IPAs. Learn more at [email protected].

ABS Commercial has been a full-service brewery outfitter for more than 10 years. We are proud to offer brewhouses, tanks, keg washers, and preventative maintenance parts to brewers across the country as well as equipment for distilling, cider-making, wine-making, and more! We know the ins and outs of the brewing and installation process and can design the perfect set-up for you, whether you’re just starting out or looking to expand. Contact us today at [email protected] to discuss your customized brewery needs. ABS Commercial. We are brewers.

This episode is brought to you by Yakima Chief Hops. The 7th Annual Veterans Blend from Yakima Chief Hops will be available for pre-order June 24th! $3 from every pound sold of Veterans Blend will be donated to this year’s non-profit Stop Soldier Suicide. The Veterans Blend is dedicated to providing financial support to nonprofits who provide assistance to our military veterans and their families. Plan ahead for your 2024 and 2025 Veterans Day, Memorial Day and Independence Day beer releases and place your Veterans Blend pre-order on June 24th.

Berkeley Yeast. Founded by bioengineers. Yeast that’s designed to improve flavor, quality and consistency; increase efficiency; and save you money. If you’ve been following yeast, I’m sure you’ve heard about their strains: Superbloom strains make classic hops flavor; Fresh strains keep diacetyl low even with large hop additions; Tropics strains make a tropical bouquet reminiscent of the finest southern hemisphere hops. And, they just dropped new strains that are even more futuristic. Nationwide free shipping. Mention this podcast for 20% off your first order.

Jamie Bogner is the Cofounder and Editorial Director of Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine®. Email him at [email protected].