Lambic vs Sour: Which One Takes The Win?

Traditional beers taste sweet, cloudy, and are more refreshing. But there are also beers out there that offer a more tacky experience. 

These are mostly beers that require an acquired taste. But while you try to choose you to find sour beers and lambic beers. 

So what is the difference between lambic and sour

In lambic beer vs sour beer, the differences are subtle, but sour beer has more taste variance than lambic. Lambic varieties depend on later additions. Lambic beers are one type of sour beer. Sour beer is a broad category of beer having a sour taste due to wild yeast. And lambic beer is openly fermented in Belgian air.

So, now that you know the basic differences, there is still a lot to know. If you are interested, we have an article ready for you. 

So let’s get right into it!

Brief Comparison

Beers are one of the most famous beverages in the world. And there are lots of varieties in them.

Although most beers are made from controlled fermentation and taste conventionally good. There are some that stand out in their taste.

Here we are talking about sour and lambic beer. These have a taste different from the general beers. It can be said that they have an acquired taste.

Let’s check out a comparison table to see where they mainly differ:

AttributeLambic Sour
OriginOnly found in BelgiumDifferent regions have different sour beers
ProcessingHas a specific way of brewingCan be made in different ways
Styles & BranchesHas different branches but the base beer is the sameA broad category with many different styles including lambic beer 

So that was a short overview of the differences that these two have. But now you should be interested to know more.

We have discussed their characteristics and where they differ in much detail. 

Let’s follow the following section for an in-depth analysis.

Detailed Comparison

The difference between a lambic and sour beer is very subtle. 

It is because sour beer is a wide range of varieties of styles of beer. On the other hand, lambic is basically a sour beer. 

Lambic beer falls under the category of sour beers. A few differences in the process and origin etc make it different from other beers.

Let us try to analyze their differences considering the various factors that they depend on.

Origins of The Beers

Sour beers were present even before it was called sour beer. It is basically a naturally fermented beer using a controlled culture of yeast. In addition, various souring bacterias such as acetobacter and lactobacillus are used.

Fermentation is important or you might face problems like not fermenting cider. And this is where a key difference is made.

The fermentation time isn’t fixed beforehand. The uncontrolled fermentation gives the beer a sour type taste.

This beer has been considered an acquired taste. As it was developed in some regions, people started to understand that the sour flavor also works alongside the typical sweet, cloudy flavor of the beer.

Sour beers originate from Belgium mainly. Also, the USA and Germany hold a big part in sour beer brewing.

But on the other hand, when you ask what is lambic beer, the answer is based mainly on a region.

Lambic beer is strictly bound by Belgium. Many brewers say that lambic beers outside of Belgium aren’t real lambic beers.

Because lambic beers were first brewed near Senne valley, near Brussels, Belgium. And it is said that the microbial life needed to prepare the lambic beer, has the perfect condition in Belgium.

The brewer companies are so delicate about microbial life that they do not allow repairing services near the cellar or barrels.

There’s also a certain vibe for lambic having beers. Like special glasses made with lambic signatures for instance. Here’s our recommendation for beer glasses.

Difference In Brewing

As we’ve known earlier, lambic beer is just a type of sour beer. So naturally, the processing and brewing of sour beer are broader than lambic.

The key to the sour beer recipe is the fermentation with wild yeasts. That is essentially what makes any beer sour. 

The wild yeast lowers the pH to make it sour. But you need a balance because if your mash pH is too low, that will cause problems. 

Spontaneous fermentation, the addition of fresh fruits, and using barrels that were previously used for rum are the features of making sour beer. The main thing here is the presence of souring bacteria like pediococcus and lactobacillus.

You take your mix and leave it to ferment naturally. This introduces the mash with wild yeasts. Or you can add them manually to get that sour taste.

Generally, you take lab-grown yeasts and brew your clean-tasting beers. But for sour beer, Brettanomyces or Brett is the hero in our story.

This yeast is famous as the beer ruiner, but for sour beers, this is what gives beers their sour earthy taste.

However, the lambic beer recipe is a bit more specific. 

So, how to make lambic beer? We have all the arrangements as any other beer, but the spontaneous fermentation is what makes it shine.

The trick is, you take your unfermented wort, and heat it up. And then it is left out in a cool ship. Which is a traditional word for large vat.

In this process, the mix gets fermented by wild yeasts and also collects random bacteria floating from the air. The wort is left overnight to get fermented from the airborne yeast and bacteria.

That is why the brewers are so serious about keeping the brewing place unchanged.

The Many & Different Branches

The difference between lambic and sour isn’t much. But it really shows when we look at the branches.

Sour beer is the broad type. They include all sorts of beers that have been fermented with wild yeasts. So there are a lot of different varieties of sour beers.

Lambic, Flanders, American wild ale, Gose, and Berliner Weisse are some of the many. There is also non-alcoholic sour beer for those who prefer it. Sour beers are also made many times with a blend of lambic and American wale.

All these sour beers taste different on their own terms. There are also options where the sour beer calorie differs too.

Lambic is also a base term for a few interesting beers. The differences in lambic beer flavors are fruit-based to be exact.

You have the gueuze, which is a mix of older and new lambic. Framboises are mainly fermented using raspberries in the later part of their fermentation.

Kriek lambics are basically the same as framboise but use strawberries. 

There are lambic beer recipes using peach, apple, and cloudberries as well.

Which One Should You Go For?

Lambic vs sour beer is a pretty close debate. The differences are subtle and very specific.

But if you want to try out any particular one, our recommendation would be, sour beer.

As you can see, sour beer is a broad category that even includes lambic beers. But you also get to try out beers that vary in taste.  

You might find one that suits your taste buds specifically.

And sour beers are an acquired taste. And lambic is an even more specific one with a regional specialty. 

That’s why we suggest you Try out different sour beers first and find what suits you best.


How long does typical beer fermentation take?

Beer fermentation takes about two weeks. But many recipes require different fermentation periods. This varies with taste and type and what is added later.

Can beer be used as rubbing alcohol? 

No, beer can’t be used as rubbing alcohol as it isn’t just strong enough. Proper rubbing alcohol is usually 700 percent alcohol. But beer has a lower alcohol content than that.

Are beers stored in wooden barrels?

Beers were stored in wooden barrels once. But after stainless steel and aluminum started being available, wooden barrels became obsolete. But they are used by old brewing companies. They are old-aged barrels. New barrels aren’t good for beer storing at all.

Wrapping Up

Well, hopefully this article solves all your questions. Now you have detailed knowledge about the differences between lambic and sour.

Use this knowledge to make a more educated decision. 

Have a refreshing day!

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