We traveled through cities and country sides to find the origins of Lambic, Gueuze and Belgian Style Beers.
Our brewery visits included...
De Cam - Pure passion keeps this Lambic mixer driven. Blending and aging De Cam was founded in 1997 by master brewer Willem van Herreweghen, and was later taken over by Karel Goddeau. Karel brews for Brouwerij Slaghmuylder by day and blends lambic by nigh at De Cam
Verzet - Joran Brewmaster at our very own Three Taverns got his start here. There are only three Belgian brewers working in the U.S., and two of them are related. Joran Van Ginderachter follows in the footsteps of his uncle Peter Bouckaert, who today works at New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins.
Wesvleteren - a brewery founded in 1838 at the Trappis Abbey of Saint Sixtus. The brewery's three beers have acquired an international reputation for taste and quality, Westvleteren 12 being considered by some to be the best beer in the world. It doesn't hurt that the Monks are not brewing for commercial demands making the small quantites that are sold weekly coveted by locals and travelers from around the world, like us!
Inter-Pol - This tiny, and I do mean tiny Brewery is owned and operated by Pol and his lovely wife who also have a charming Bed and Breakfast. Most everyone, except me had to duck to enter this adorable brewery. Every inch is covered with eye catching details and Pol is happy to tell you a story about every one!
Het Anker- started brewing beer 5 generations ago in the Grand Beguinage of Mechelen. In the whisky distillery they are working on the Gouden Carolus Single Malt, which is the perfect combination between the family traditions of brewing and distilling. They also have a brasserie where we enjoyed lunch along with a tasting of their fantastic beers.
Duvel-Moortgat - These folks have been busy! Moortgat brewery was founded in 1871. In the early 1970s, when the company was struggling financially, Moortgat bottled and distributed the Danish beer, Tuborg. In June 1999 they to set up massive distribution channels for their flagship beer, Duvel.
Over the years they have aquired many of our most well known Belgian and American Belgian breweries, such as Ommegang, Brasserie d'Achouffe, DeKonick, Boulevard and Firestone Walker.
Stephanie and I both agreed that watching the bottling line was probably our favorite part of this tour. Don't get me wrong our guide was fabulous but the OCD in all of us cannot help but be mesmerized by this massive line, cleaning recycled bottles, filling, labeling and crating this huge distribution.
Brewery Achouffe - This is my happy place, gnomes, mushrooms, the valley of the fairies and amazing beers, yes please! The entire tour whas gnomey goodness, just the cutest place. In the late 1970s two brothers-in-law, Pierre Gobron and Chris Bauweraerts, decided to create their own beer, in their own brewery. In the summer of 2006, the brewery's founders opted to entrust the fate of their beloved dwarves to the Duvel-Moortgat Brewery. The group is willing to invest in Achouffe and to develop the brewery's potential. A must visit if you find your self in Belgium
De Halve Maan Brewery - The ‘Halve Maan’ (Half Moon) is an authentic and historic brewery in the center of Bruges. This brewery is a family business with a tradition stretching back through six generations to 1856. You can totally tell, this brewery tour literally had me hanging on by my finger nails. I am still overjoyed I managed not to fall down one of their extremely narrow and steep staircases winding throughout this ancient facility. One of the highlights was a visit to their roof top where the cooling ship has open air to cool their beers overnight prior to barreling for fermentation. In 2016 a unique two-mile underground pipeline was built to connect the brewery in the city centre to its out-of-town bottling plant, just crazy, a beer pipeline. They did mention locals were happy to help urging that everyone should have a personal tap along the route.
Cantillon - Need I say more? This was certainly a highlight to our trip, all of us very much relishing the idea we would be standing in this brewery. The brewery was founded in 1900 by Paul Cantillon, whose father was a brewer as well. As of 2011, the owner is Jean-Pierre van Roy, fourth-generation brewer at Cantillon. Since its foundation the only major change has been a shift to organic ingredients in 1999. Cantillon was one of more than one hundred operating breweries in Brussels when founded, but the only one remaining through the 2000s. Our tour guide was Cedric and he was by far the most energetic delightful and educated tour guide. As we were on a very tight schedule Cedric manged to have us laughing and enthralled in the process of Cantillon's brewing, so much so that we returned the day after our official brewery tour ended to taste more!
Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen - Last but certainly not least on our tour. The head of 3 Fonteinen, Armand Debelder, was our tour guide. What an honor it was to have him guide us through their new facility. The founding of Drie Fonteinen dates back to 1883. In 1961, Gaston Debelder, purchased the building and expanded their lambic blending business into the inn. His two sons, Armand and Guido helped manage the Inn and Lambic blending. Gaston eventually handed the business over to his two sons full-time in 1982. Armand became the head blender (and eventually brewer), while his brother Guido managed the Inn restaurant. Listening to Armand talk about his triumphs and falters was amazing. Such a passion for the culture of this beer and his family tradition. I was very pleased this was our last stop and loved sharing a dusty bottle with him and our group!