Well, the bags are packed. I have checked and re-checked that I have all the essentials: clean underwear, toothbrush, deodorant, beer money. The hotels are chosen and reserved, the flight is booked and my seat is chosen. Research has been completed on sights, landmarks, and breweries to visit. All that is left is to board the plane and let the adventure begin. Belgium, arguably one of the world's greatest beer regions awaits my arrival. And by the time you read this, I will have arrived and most likely had my first Belgian beer on Belgian soil served to me by a Belgian native, in a correct glass for the particular beer. Over the next nine days I will be exploring the beer culture, pubs, restaurants, and museums of Belgium in search of the perfect beer. And you, dear readers, get to go along with me, if only on these pages.
Over the next nine days I hope to be able to post several installments of Love and Hops from Belgium along with photos and perhaps a few surprises. So, follow along and enjoy.
One of the first breweries I am scheduled to visit is Cantillon is Brussels. Cantillon brews spontaneously fermented beers known as lambics, gueuze, faro, and kriek. These beers are fermented in open tanks to allow wild strains of yeast to land in the young beer and begin the fermentation process.
In the 18th century, a Benedictine monk, dom Pérignon, discovered the Champaign method by blending different non sparkling white wines. One century later, a Brabant, Belgium brewer blended different lambics and brings about a spontaneous fermentation in the bottle. The Gueuze is born.
Up to the 19th century, the people from Brussels and Brabant mostly drank two beers, Lambic and Faro. The glass bottle and the discovery of Dom Perignon brought about a revolution in the small world of the Brussels brewers. The Gueuze became the icon of the Brussels beers.
Lambic, which is the base for the making of Gueuze, is a spontaneous fermentation beer. All beers made with Lambic are naturally sour, but some will be more sour, more bitter or "softer" than the others.
The Gueuze is the result of a well-considered blending of Lambics of different ages and with different tastes.
Types of Beers Lambic Ales
A spontaneously fermented ale.
A blend of aged and young lambic ale.
A raspberry flavored lambic ale.
A cherry flavored lambic ale.
Lambic ale flavored with candi sugar.
A peach flavored lambic ale.
I will be sure to report back my thoughts on the beers of Cantillon and the other breweries as I encounter them. I will also take as many photos as I can and try to get them posted. Rest assured, I am doing this for you, my dear reader. You see the kind of love I have for you. Some has to do it.
Long Live the Brewers!
(Somewhere in Belgium)