Years Back – Brussels Breweries

We could talk about beer stores but there are so many of them like this, why
On the Grand Place in Brussels, a brand-new brewery has
opened called, unimaginatively,
The Brewery On The Grand
  OK, it’s really Les Brasseurs de la Grand Place which sounds classier in English. It opened in 2001 so it’s not brand new. Stupidly they claim to be “the only
brewery in Brussels”.

  • Bruin – I’d swear it’s a southern English brown.
  • Cherry – Very very dark red with a pink head. Very very tart of
    black cherries. Jaw-achingly tart. One of wife Terry’s top 10 picks.

The statues above the door really have headaches – but maybe they drank too much last

Brussels’ most famous brewery is the Brasserie Cantillon who’s lambics are
readily available in the USA. They have a self-guided tour they call a museum so
it’s in the guidebooks. Good luck finding the place – that’s all I can say since
we drove around some streets in the area until we happened on Rue Gheude Straat.
That made us arrive pretty late in the day but a very gracious Claude Van Roy
let us wander around way after the 5pm “closing” time and stuck around to give
us a couple of beers (included in the tour).

The first surprise is that the brewery is right in the city.
One thinks of wild lambic yeast and pristine country woods.
They say city pollution is much better than it was when most houses burned coal.

Mashing tun.
They use 850kg of malt (65%) and 450kg of wheat (35%).

Steam-heated Boiler.
10,000 liters per batch go into two kettles like this.
22kg of German hops are added at this time –
aged hops that have mellowed and lost some bitterness.

Cool Ship – a cooling pan used instead of a water chiller.
This pan holds all 7,500 liters of wort – 2,500 evaporated during boiling.
Wort stays here overnight. In the summer it doesn’t cool enough –
one reason they can only brew from October through April.
They used to brew into May but it’s too warm now for that.
Jean-Pierre blames global warming.

The Cool Ship is up in the attic and there is plenty of ventilation.
This ventilation is necessary because yeast gets into the wort during this
cooling – spontaneous fermentation. Lambic can be made only in a small area
around Brussels because that’s where the particular strain of yeast
used to make the sour brown ale of the basic beer lives.
There are 86 strains of wild yeast that combine to ferment the beer.

Casks are filled from the Cool Ship.
Bungs are not inserted for 3 or 4 days while the wort foams with the first
violent fermentation.

The base beer will stay in the barrels for a full year.
20% of the liquid evaporates and the yeast forms a crust which protects
the fresh beer.

The fermented beer is filtered to remove dead yeast, then sent to . . .

The macerating tank.
Basic brown lambic is rarely sold. It is usually mixed with fruits to make
Kriek (cherries), Framboise (raspberries), Peche (peaches),
Fou’foune (apricots), Faro (candy sugar), Marmalade (plums).
Some 1, 2 and 3-year old brown lambics are mixed to produce Gueuze.

Finally, bottling.

A cork and a crown cap are both used at Cantillon.

After bottling, the fermentation starts again in the bottle and lasts for 5 or 6
before labeling and distribution.
Their cellar holds about 11,000 bottles.

Claude Van Roy (nee Cantillon).
Her husband runs the place and their three children work there also.
Her grandfather started the brewery in 1900.