When Cultures Collide

Lambic meets kombucha in a bubbly new blend

The drinks world is big on collaboration: coffee and stout, beer and whiskey, or tea and gin, to name a few.

And now the Chicago-based owners of Vanberg & DeWulf have gone a step further with their new drinkable mash-up, Lambrucha, which combines tart lambic beer with kombucha, a fermented tea drink.

Though these two seem unlikely bedfellows, it's an obvious love match at the microbial level, thanks to a shared yeast, Brettanomyces, which lends both beverages an acidic funk.

After first tasting kombucha in 2008, Vanberg & Dewulf's Don Feinberg corralled an engineer friend, a Belgian lambic brewer, and a producer of organic kombucha. They blended, tasted and bottled the first batch of Lambrucha in Belgium last summer; now, after eight months of aging, the result has hit Chicago.

The 750ml bottles hold a fiercely bubbly, bone-dry, rose-color liquid that greets the palate with a burst of lemon, then softens into flowery, herbaceous notes as it goes down. The flavors bring pairings of seafood and spring vegetables to mind, though X-Marx's Abe Conlon plans to pair it with fried pork ears at this weekend's dinner.

With only 3.5 percent ABV, it's a low-alcohol (or "session") beer, making it perfect for brunch or a midmeal pairing.

Move over, Miller High Life: We're crowning Lambrucha the new Champagne of Beers.

Lambrucha, available now at The Publican, Hopleaf, Perman Wines, The Bad Apple and Binny's South Loop