See inside a Belgian Lambic Brewery: Touring Brasserie Cantillon


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See inside a Belgian Lambic Brewery: Touring Brasserie Cantillon

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During a recent trip to Brussels stepped inside Anderlecht's historic Lambic beer brewery, Brasserie Cantillon. Join us on an interactive tour!

Lambic's fell out of fashion in the 1960s when many breweries in the Brussels area closed, as modern operators started producing what Brasserie Cantillon decries as 'pseudo' Lambics - pasteurized and sweetened.

What's so special about the Lambic beer made here? Well, it is fermented using wild airborne yeasts, which contaminate the wort prior to aging in barrels, which can take up to three years.

Until the mid-19th century Lambic beer was the only type produced in this part of Belgium and as late as the 1950s there were scores of such brewers in the capital before large-scale industrial concerns took over.

Making such 'spontaneous fermentation' beer is expensive - versus bottom- and top-fermented beer - and larger concerns have commercialized Gueze and fruit beers to keep costs down, producing the beers in only a few weeks, rather than years.

Brasserie Cantillon protests that Belgium's laws do not protect what it claims is genuine Lambic beer (since there is no on-bottle distinction between traditional and modern production techniques), but the brewery is now wildly successful.

It only produces 1,700 hectoliters a year but demand outstrips supply and has been accelerating since the 1990s, with growing interest in craft beers in Europe and the US.

Rue Gheude 56: Our brewery tour begins!

The excitement builds as arrives at Brasserie Cantillon, Rue Gheude 56 in the Anderlecht district of Brussels. Proper Lambic beer fell out of fashion in the 1960s and this is one of the few breweries that remain. Click on the icons in the photos below to learn more!

The mashing tun is used to mix cereals (wheat and barley) with hot water to create the mash.
Two wort boilers - used to sterilize the wort and concentrate the sugars.
The massive copper cooling tun, with its curious ventilation system.
'Time doesn't respect what's made without it' Excuse my bad French translation.
Beware exploding beer barrels!
Mixing and filtering, then bottling. up to 1,200 bottles/hour - but not with this machine!
Bottles are sealed with cork stoppers and crown closures.
Here's a snapshot of the Brewery Cantillon's range, including its famous Gueze and Kriek.
Tasting - undoutedly the best bit. The sourness of the Gueze is striking.
Brewery Cantillon is a living museum, a time capsule for the brewer's art. This is the brewery bar.
Blast from the past! The brewery is a living museum full of old memorabilia, including this ancient cart used to transport freshly picked hops to the facility.

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1 comment

A step inside of history

Posted by Diamond,

Great article ben. I really enjoyed the interactive format.

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