Ever wonder how our bar managers stay updated in what is happening in the beer world? Well easy-peasy, they research! So a week ago Koelschip manager, Dennis, took himself and some other Mikkeller-buddies on a road trip to his homeland and the country of Lambic to see what’s up. Here is his tales:
“You can take the Belgian out of Belgium, but you’ll never take Belgium out of the Belgian. Guess that’s how they say it. The cry of the Motherland never goes unheard, so it was about time I got back in touch with what’s happening in the lambic world.
Notorious traffic in Germany was kind to us on the way down south: it took us about 10 hours to arrive in the picturesque provincial town of Hasselt in Belgian Limburg. Our first stop? Bokkereyder. Ever since we opened on February 27th of this year, Raf Souveryn’s bottles have been a staple at Koelschip. Fittingly for a lambic blender, he’s a bit of a whacky professor. People who were lucky enough to taste his creations at CBC and CBC Boston know like no other what this crackpot is capable of. Always a joy to watch him show off his beers, and an even greater joy to sample!
On to get some sleep. A new day of lambic beckons! Lindemans, 3 Fonteinen, and Cantillon await. This beer isn’t going to taste itself, ya know.
‘it Was still early in the morning when we pulled up on the Lindemans site. “Look, there’s a dude in there”, our driver shouted with glee. Turns out that man was a brewer, since the sight of him also filled our noses with the familiar grainy smell of a mash-in.
PR manager Guillaume awakened us from our early morning slumber with a gin and tonic. You heard that right: G&T in a lambic brewery, because why not? The red and clear gin (both based on Cuvée René Kriek) are premium products from one of the world’s most renowned distilleries, and they’re as refined as they are delicious. The color of the red gin is acquired by adding some sour cherry juice to it, because you just can’t stop a lambic blender from doing his thing in the end.
Quick trip to the center of town to visit our friends at Cantillon. Y’all know lambic geeks: that one thing you really can’t miss in Brussels? We had a taste of Zwanze 2016 (a throwback to their original Framboise, which they stopped making in the mid-80s and had a little vanilla in it), and the Iris Grand Cru. A lovely drop and always nice to be back in the Rue Gheude, but you know: places to go to, people to see and all that.
We dredged through the rain to a warm welcome in Beersel at 3 Fonteinen. We went to take a look at the old site, but since most of the activity outside of brewing has shifted to the new site in the small town of Lot (Beersel), guess that’s where we had to be instead.
Our pal Werner Van Obberghen proudly showed us around the new Lambic-o-droom. “Ambitious” is the least thing you can say about their re-imagining of classic lambic culture. It’s hard to put your finger on the new style, but lambic has never been both so traditional and so modern and slick. The new bottles, which were designed as a throwback to the original 3 Fonteinen barrel chalk mark, look absolutely breathtaking. Hope we’ll see them at our bar soon, once they’ve gotten their dose of TLC through bottle conditioning.
Off to the Belgian’s parental home, where the Holy Grail awaits…
Can you imagine drinking a bottle of beer that’s potentially older than your parents? We can now, thanks to bottles of Geuze from Goossens. Oh, by the way: that brewery closed in 1962. Dirt, dust, cobwebs, and of course the legendary white chalk mark. Now if that isn’t full on terroir, we don’t want to hear about it.
One more short night, and it was back off to Denmark! Belgium was kind to us again: we learned a lot, met lots of new friends, and gave us a lot to contemplate from the comfort of our warm beds. Good night, tak for lambic!”