Back from running, where on the way, I passed a stable, and on the fence, nicely folded, was a horse blanket, while from inside their boxes the two horses looked out at the world into which they would soon be ridden. The phrase horse blanket when used in relation to lambic is well-worn and perhaps spun out when the nearest the writer has got to a horse is some well-seasoned mince on a trip to Belgium (I seem to recall Martyn Cornell writing something on this recently). So I stopped and took a deep sniff, there’s nothing like original research. And what did I find? Manure, not unpleasant, the lure of the organic garden, old wet straw, autumn, earthiness, upturned soil perhaps after a shower of rain, horse’s sweat, like damp leather perhaps, a deep pungent strangely pleasing aroma that as I started running again I was able to fix onto my memories of lambic. It’s an aroma that has a lot in common with the orange, pine, banana and lychee notes we get on beer for instance, an aroma rooted in the land, a primary aroma that hasn’t been baked or manufactured (think biscuity or mocha for starters). And yes you can pick it out on some lambics but I do urge you to stop and smell next time you’re near a stable.
PS the use of the word blanket denotes something cosy and comforting but I often think that horse blankets are more like anoraks, which brings us back to beer.