Cantillon Brewery For Beer Lovers

Attention all Beer Lovers

If in your travels you find yourselves in Brussels, Belgium, you must take the time to visit Cantillon Brewery.  It is the home of the traditional ‘Lambic Fermentation Style’ beer.  The final product is called ‘Gueuze’ (More about this amazing beer in a moment).  This post is a continuation of my family adventure to Europe in May.  My son Dave voted to visit Cantillon Brewery in Brussels.  I was luke warm on it since I am gluten free so beer and I do not usually get along very well.  So, Cantillon Brewery was on the agenda and as it turned out, I loved this beer and we are friends.

Kim Bova Photography, Cantillon Brewery

My favorite beers from Cantillon

Cantillon Brewery

This Brewery is a working museum of Lambic Style beer.   For a small entry free of about 10 dollars you get a great experience:

  • self guided tour
  • a tasting of various flavors of beers in their delightful tasting room
  • time to hangout and chat with the owner/creators about their delicious beer and their process.

We were there for a couple of hours.  It was a fantastic experience.  The owners shared their passion, pride and dedication to keeping this craft alive for the world to continue to experience.  This Lambic style of beer is one that these people were drinking in Belgium for hundreds of years!

‘Lambic’ Style Beer.  

No one can make a beer that tastes just like this because it is dependent on the local environment.  It is ‘air fermented’ and unique to this area of Belgium with the river right next to the brewery.  I am not sure of all the environmental details, but it is naturally fermented with what ever is floating around in the air right next to the Senne River which flows through Brussels and right past this brewery – you get the idea.  I am not a scientist but I find it fascinating!  To taste the real thing you have to go there. Gueuze (or Geuze) is a type of lambic a Belgian beer, a little bubbly like champagne and simply delicious.  Because of its carbonation, Gueuze is sometimes called “Brussels Champagne”.   I love French Champagne – so this was a match for me!

Kim Bova Photography, Cantillon Brewery

Since the beginning of the 20th century, brewers have added regional fruits – sour cherries, raspberries and grapes to their lambics during the summer. To make these fruit-flavored beers, empty casks are filled with various fruits and macerated for three months to dissolve the fruits; then young lambic is added for fermentation.

Open Fermentation, Cantillon Brewery, Brussels, Belgium, Kim Bova Photography, Beer Brewing

Then the mash is fermented in this open topped copper attic mounted vat. This is a coppersmiths masterpiece, not a single weld to be found! You can see the open air vents in the attic room here with screens to keep bad bugs out. They never kill spiders in the brewery as they keep the insect population at bay during the summer months.

Kim Bova Photography, Oak Barrels Beer Fermentation, Cantillon Brewery

Then it goes into the oak barrels where slow fermentation happens 3-4 weeks later. This is where the lambic is born. They wait 3 years. Sometimes after 3 year the original liquid amounts may evaporate and only have 80 % of the original left. The lambic may be drunk at this stage, but for a more refined beer like Gueuze and Kriek, we have to wait another year. This is why Annheiser Busch does not make this kind of beer! You see why this is quite distinct from all other beers? The brewer now blends 1, 2, and 3 yr old Lambic for secondary fermentation in the bottle, but first goes into the stainless steel barrels to test for taste and selection for the blend which becomes the Cantillon Gueuze.

Bottles of Lambic Beer, bottle fermentation, Cantillon Brewery, Kim Bova Photography

There are many more steps and details depending not the type of beer here, but to simplify, the beer is put into bottles where they are corked and on their sides in the cellar for another several months.

Cantillon is in the middle of Brussels and easy to get to on foot or by taxi.  You probably don’t want to drive there as the parking looked a bit tough and if you sit in the comfy tasting room for too long you may not want to drive.  I hope you get to visit this fascinating brewery at some point.  I highly recommend it.  I apparently can tolerate this beer even being Gluten free. Not sure why.  I can truly call myself a beer love now.  Too bad bottles sold in the US are $30 a piece!  But it is still cheaper than traveling to Brussels… so maybe I will treat myself once in a while!

Click here to see more photos of my adventures in France. For more information about Cantillon go here.

Bon voyage!

 

 

 


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