Of course, I don’t have to tell you that Belgium is famous for its beers. A typical Belgian beer that is only brewed here in Belgium is Lambic. The special feature of lambic is that it is fermented by exposure to wild yeasts present in the air and the building.
One of the last real Lambic breweries in Brussels is Cantillon Brewery. This family business still works with material from 1900 to make its beer. On average, they make about 250,000 liters each year (about 1 million bottles of beer). To compare: the whole production in Belgium is 1.8 billion liter of beer (much much more bottles of beer).
The Lambic serves as a base for different beers like gueuze, kriek, framboise, …
A visit to the Cantillon Brewery was already on our list for a very long time. As an individual visitor, you first get a short introduction after which you can visit the brewery at your own pace with the help of a booklet with all the information you need. In English, you can also book a guided tour on specific times and days of the week (check the website).
We had an introduction in English and learned more about the brewery itself and the brewing process of Lambic. Because the fermentation depends on wild yeast, every beer is different. Like wine, you have good and lesser years.
After the introduction, we walked around the brewery. Because it isn’t a big brewery, this doesn’t take long. But you literally see everything, which makes it very special. Also to see that they still use the original machines is fascinating to see. Although this is a rather small brewery, there are still a lot of barrels of beer.
After the visit you can have 2 glasses of beer: the first one is Lambic, straight from the barrel. The second one you can choose: gueuze, kriek (with cherries) or framboise (with raspberries).
When you taste Lambic, you notice that it is not your typical beer: it is sour and there isn’t a lot of foam. Gueuze contains a little bit more foam but still much less than a normal Belgian beer. In contrast to what you would expect of a fruit beer: framboise isn’t very sweet but still very tasty.
Visiting the Cantillon Brewery in Brussels is very interesting and a must if you like Belgian beer. You get to see how they make typical gueuze beers. And of course: the tasting!
You can also buy some merchandising and beer to take with you. Or just stay and taste some of the other beers they have; like a blend of lambic with blew merlot grapes or a maceration of lambic with elderflowers. I know I want to taste those when I go back.
Did you already visit Cantillon brewery?