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Future perspectives

Further research of the lambic beer fermentation process and other traditional beer fermentation processes in other breweries (traditional, industrial, or those with intermediate characteristics) will reveal the extent to which the overall microbiota described is generic, or if novel species will be discovered. The isolates obtained in these studies can be used for the production of these traditional beers in a controlled way, but they can also be applied in other beer types, since they are thought to be more persistent in the fermentation process, as they dominate the fermentation without the need of being pitched in large amounts. Consequently, brewing with these isolates would make the beer less prone to microbial spoilage. The yeasts present in traditional beers are also known to survive a long time during bottle re-fermentation, which is a very interesting property of yeast strains for ale bottle re-fermentation as well.

The role of yeast species that are not commonly isolated from fermented beverages also deserves further attention. The isolation of Yarrowia lipol- ytica at late phases of the lambic beer fermentation from both traditional and industrial lambic brewing processes suggests an advantage of this species to survive and prevail in lambic beers. Cheese is the main food product from which this yeast is isolated, next to fermented and raw meat products, but it has also been isolated occasionally from soft drinks, wines, and ciders (Groenewald et al., 2014).

Finally, although the source of the microbiota in an industrial lambic brewing process seems to be known, the sources of lambic microbiota are unclear in traditional lambic beer brewing processes. Several findings indicate a role for both brewery air and untreated construction wood and cask wood, but this may differ between breweries (Verachtert and Derdelinckx, 2005; Verachtert and Iserentant, 1995). All these breweries have produced lambic beers for a long time and the entire environment is probably enriched with the lambic beer microbiota. The precise mode of inoculation might therefore remain part of the mystery and tradition of lambic beer and traditional beers in general.

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