There are many great beers in Brussels and we didn’t spend much time here before, but had to head back to Moeder Lambic – Fontainas for a cheese board. One of two locations specialising in local products with a focus on Farmhouse styles. This time around I tried a Rhubarb Saison and a Strawberry Oud Bruin, both delicious and inspiring. Rhubarb is an intriguing brewing ingredient, with the right underlying style it can really come to life with an earthy sweetness, also complementary to the saline character of a Gose. Oud Bruin, being more malt forward than a Flanders Red, but still having that supporting acidity, found an exceptional pairing in strawberry. They also have a decent selection whiskey here and the service is tremendously professional.
Another stand out location was Brew Dog Brussels, right near Brussels Central Station, how convenient? This modern tap house has a fresh range of Brew Dog products on draught, (thats right draught, it means on tap and was not intended as a repurposed name for Kölsch style beers. Preach). The recommendation I had from the bar man was Punk IPA on tap, classic, it was fresh as kittens. I also tried Zombie Cake Praline Porter, a beer with notes of coffee and forrest fruits, and Jackhammer, a great example of a West Coast IPA at an apparent 200 IBU. It was a privilege to try these beers so fresh as I cant remember having packaged Brew Dog in good condition for years.
The highlight of beer though for this part of the trip had to be Lindemans brewery. Surprisingly easy to arrange a tour through email even at short notice, our local guide also conducted tours of breweries such as Boon, and gave us a break down of the region, who brews, who blends-the famous Tilquin for instance, is a blender and does not produce their own wort at all. Lindemans has come a long way since 1871 and last year produced almost 12 million litres of beer!
For 60 Euro, we got a full tour of the brewery old and new and finished with a tasting of Oud Gueuze (a blend of 1,2 and 3 year old Lambic), Oud Kreik (Cherry Lambic) 2017 vintages, both quite dry and complex, followed by Farrow a Lambic with candied sugar and Pecherese, a 2.5% abv blend with heaps of…peaches. The latter were more modern products, with the Farrow being exported to a lot to France, both very very sweet. I also learned that China has now surpassed the US as the number one importer of of Lindemans beers, which reflects the countries growing demand for bold and interesting flavours, hence the growth in craft beer.
As with other Lambic breweries, the warmer months are not ideal for the desired microbes, so brewing only takes place about half the year. These guys only spontaneously ferment with the yeast that’s available in the air, no cultured yeast at all, using large shallow vessels known as cool ships, to cool wort with the night air and inoculate with the local yeasts. 3 year old hops are used to filter the wort into the cool ship, with varieties both local and Slovenian because there literally aren’t enough hops in Belgium. With the current setup, Lindemans can produce 41,000 litres of wort per day, all of which is fermented and stored in stainless tanks for 1 year before being transferred to wood.
Other fun facts about Lindemans, all of their fruit beers are pasteurised and bottles are reused up to seven times, they are, like Beerland, also still a family owned and operated company, with two of the current brewmasters being of the family. Even with all the extra cellar and packaging operators the facility still only runs on four 9 hour shifts a week, sounds pretty good to me, no wonder they are producing truly great and world renowned beer.
Andrew Dean – Brewer | Certified Cicerone®