The best part of Brussels was visiting the Cantillon brewery. At Halve Maan, the tour explained the old brewing system which they do not use anymore. At Cantillon, they pointed out how they never stopped brewing their lambic on the ancient model.
At Cantillon they can only brew from October through March when the nights are cold, because they cool their beer and invite wild yeast infection in uncovered giant cooper vats. They put this wort in barrels for years to age and ferment. The barrels are not sealed so the lambic comes out completely flat. The barrel stage is where the beer really comes into it’s own, but is also the most open to bugs, but they can’t use any pesticides in the brewery because they might harm the good bacteria in the lambic, so the brewers let nature take care of it. The whole brewery is covered in cobwebs and spiders, natural bug killers. When the lambic is bottled they add more sugar to restart fermentation and give the beer it’s sparkle, which is technically called gueuze. After touring their brewery, barrel room, bottling room and cellar, we got to taste some unique, authentic wild beers.
The gueuze was super interesting, there is no added fruit, so the flavor comes exclusively from the malt and the yeast — and the hint of aged hops. The gueuze had a light wheat notes like a hefeweizen and absolutely no sweetness or the beery taste Sarah hates and a sour, lemony aftertaste. The Rosé De Gambrinus was similar, but the added raspberries added a nice fruitiness, like you ate a handful of berries. The smell was like fresh cheerios. The lambic from the barrel tasted like the geueze but completely flat. The faro was delicious like brown sugar and caramel with a hint of bitter edge. Sarah was in heaven.
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