Sunday, November 25, 2012

The "Day of the Lambic" is in 2 weeks

On Saturday, December 8, one of Belgium's premier 
lambic events will be held at its premier lambic beer 
cafe: In de Verzekering Tegen de Grote Dorst (In the 
Insurance Against the Great Thirst.) The cafe is 
located in Eizeringen (Lennik) in the Payottenland.

Photo, above: Yves (left) and Kurt Panneels

The "Dag van de Lambiek," as they say in Flemish,
is an event where Yves and Kurt Panneels, who own
the cafe, have many straight, unblended lambics on
offer from the various lambic breweries and blenderies
in Belgium. "It's a feast for lovers of unblended
lambics!" Yves told me. "Most are served from barrels,"
he added.

"The theme is the art of brewing lambic, and the art 
surrounding the lambic beer culture. We will have 
cartoons from Belgian homebrewer Erwin Vanmol 
displayed on the walls of the pub," Yves remarked.

There will be at least ten lambics, in jong (young) 
oude (old) and kriek (kriekenlambic, cherries steeped
in lambic) form, and possibly more. 

This is the fifth year of Day of the Lambic, which 
started in 2008. Each year starting then, lambics
not enjoyed during the event were blended to make
a special, very rare Oude Geuze. 

Only 24 bottles in the 75 cl size and 15 in the 
1.5 liter Magnum size were filled in 2008, and 
these are getting very hard to find now. I wrote 
about this beer in 2010, here

Somehow, I still have my bottle, which is 
number 11 of 24. Whether I'd ever part with
it, or age it for a few more years and open on a
special occasion, is something I haven't decided. 

"We will likely do another special bottling this 
year as well," Yves commented.

For full details of the event, which runs from 3 pm 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Belgian beer, brewery, and cafe images available as prints

First: Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate it!

OK, back to Belgium.

During my visits to 130 Belgian breweries and over 300 beer
specialist cafes since 1994, I have captured about 25,000
images. For the last four and a half years, I have been using
a Canon digital SLR: a 12 megapixel Digital Rebel, with
Canon lens.

I have just started offering some of these for sale as prints
through Fine Art America. Here is their website. A direct
link to my profile is here.

With this site, you can choose the type of print, as well
as different sizes of prints. Art, canvas, acrylic, framed,
and metal are offered, as well as greetings cards.

The images you see on the site are not the highest
resolution versions, to prevent theft. However, the
prints are made using the high-resolution,
unwatermarked images. You can see a preview of
this on the site.

Fine Art American processes the order, makes
the print, and mails it to you. There is even a 30
day money back guarantee!

I've started with photos from Brasserie Dupont, as well
as a number of photos from the cellar at Cafe Bodega
(the first beer cafe owned by the owners of the Kulminator
in Antwerp) as well as the cellar at Brouwerij Liefmans
and some other places.

Many more images will be added over the course of time,
so check back at the Fine Art America site frequently.

With Christmas right around the corner, why not reward
yourself, or a friend, relative, or significant other, with
a print of a beautiful Belgian beer scene?

Bar, restaurant and retail shop owners, take note: you might
as well get some prints too, and impress your Belgian beer
loving customers!

PS If anyone has seen a specific photo that I have captured
that interests you, send me a mail and I will see if I can get
it uploaded on the site.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Coast to Coast Toast Part 2 is this Thursday!

Vanberg & DeWulf's "Coast to Coast Toast" returns for a second year
this Thursday, November 15. V&D founders Don Feinberg and
Wendy Littlefield created the Toast last year to celebrate their 30th
anniversary of importing Belgian beers to the U.S.

Don and Wendy import great beers from breweries such as Dupont,
Dubuisson, Dilewyns, Slaghmuylder, and De Scheldebrouwerij,
among others.

Here in Baltimore, Max's Taphouse will have numerous beers from the
V&D lineup on tap, and Hudson Street Stackhouse is signed up for the
event as well. Alonzo's is too.

You can read more on the official event page here. For ten things you
should know about the C2CT2, see here

You can enter a drawing to win a trip to Belgium, here


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Seefbier, an old Antwerp style is reborn....

Belgium has a "new" beer, and it's an interesting one. "Seefbier" was
launched in Belgium in March, and what was projected as a
seven-month supply sold out in two weeks!

The driving force behind Seefbier is former Duvel/Moortgat Marketing
Director Johan Van Dyck, with his Antwerpse Brouw Compagnie.
Van Dyck, who lives in Antwerp, became intrigued-even obsessed,
he might tell you-with finding the recipe for a style of beer that was
said to be the most popular one in the city from around 1800 to about

Photo: Johan Van Dyck and his wife,
Karen Follens, founders of 
Antwerpse Bier Compagnie

Seefbier is mentioned numerous times in local historical records.
An 1863 account called it a "white beer that foamed like champagne,
and went to and the head like port." A 1904 account said that it was
a "Poor man's champagne."

An area of Antwerp called the Seefhoek was actually named after
Seefbier: "In those days, this was the area where all the nightlife,
dance halls and bars were located. Since a beer was at that time
synonymous with Seef, that part of town was nicknamed the beer
area, or Seefhoek," Van Dyck remarked. "In fact, that area is still
called the Seefhoek!" he added.

Mayor Janssen of Antwerp (left) with Johan
Van Dyck

Van Dyck told me during a recent interview: "I searched for two
years to find a recipe. I searched the city archives, old newspapers,
talked with descendants of old brewing families, and even
interviewed elderly people in retirement homes, hoping to find an
old brewer. I finally found a brewer's handwritten notes. At that
point, I knew I needed help to translate this old recipe to modern
brewing equipment."

Photo: Johan Van Dyck (left) and Dr. Filip

Van Dyck contacted Professor Freddy Delvaux and his son Filip
of the Catholic University of Leuven. Both men are highly respected
scientists in the field of brewing in Belgium, especially in the area of
fermentation. Both agreed to help analyze the recipe and help recreate

Van Dyck stated: "We test-brewed several batches of Seefbier, 
true to the original recipe, with ingredients such as wheat,
buckwheat, oats, malted barley, and Belgian hops, as well as a
historic yeast strain. It is a very cloudy beer, somewhat akin to
a witbier, but without spicing. It’s also a bit stronger, at 6.5% abv.”

Van Dyck continued: "Seefbeer is completely against all current
beer trends in Belgium: everybody is now making extra hopped,
high ABV beers, or other more 'experienced' beers such as sour
brews. Seefbeer is the complete opposite: instead of an complex
or extreme 'sipping' beer, it is a very mild, soft and balanced brew,
with a subtle taste and similar aromas. The bitterness is even lower
that a standard Belgian lager, at 17 ibu."

I tasted the beer at the Zythos Beer Festival in Leuven in April,
and found it an interesting, refreshing brew. But that was a long
weekend with many beers, so I decided to taste it again. Last night.
It is indeed as I remembered, an easy-drinking, cloudy, refreshing
brew with notes of citrus, other fruitiness and light spicing. 

Photo: Brouwerij Roman, Oudenaarde, East

Seefbier, in fact, already has an accolade under its belt. It 
won a Gold Medal in the Belgian "other" style category in 
the World Beer Cup Awards in San Diego in May.

Photo: Brouwerij Roman, Oudenaarde, East 

Seefbier is currently brewed at Brouwerij Roman in 
Oudenaarde, East Flanders. I visited this brewery in 
2007, and it is a great place to have a beer brewed. 
It has a beautiful brewhouse with copper kettles and 
other historic equipment, and of course modern 
fermentation and maturation methods.

Photo: Johan Van Dyck, left, Carlo Roman, 
Albert Follens and Filip Delvaux

Roman is a member of The Belgian Family Brewers, 
which helps promote and protect traditional Belgian 
breweries and beers. There are twenty breweries in the 
group, including some of the best in Belgium. See here 
for more info. 

Photo: grain mill at Brouwerij Roman.

Van Dyck plans to build a brewery in Antwerp to craft 
his products, which will likely include more beers in the 
future. "We discovered a lot of old recipes in the search 
for Seefbier, and we have some ideas about new beers in 
the future. First, though, we must meet the demand for 
Seefbier," he remarked. 

Will we see Seefbier in the U.S.? "As millions of families 
emigrated in the 19th century to the U.S. through the port 
of Antwerp, the last beer they had before leaving for the 
new world was a Seefbier in Antwerp. So it would be great 
if their grandchildren could now share in this moment in the 
US, also drinking a Seefbier...So we are looking into that!" 
Van Dyck commented. 

See: Seefbier for more info.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Brasserie Cantillon now aging beer in World War II bunkers

Photo, above: Jean Van Roy, brewmaster,
Brasserie Cantillon. A similar photo I took appears
on page 29 of the new "World Atlas of Beer."

There is some good news from just a few days ago, and it involves
one of my favorite Belgian breweries.

According to, Brasserie Cantillon of Brussels
started storing/aging/maturing beer in 2011 in huge World War II
underground bunkers in Brussels. 8,000 bottles are already resting
in the spot below the Hookai and Arduinkaai streets, which are
near the Yser metro stop, and the Leopold tunnel in central Brussels.

The article quotes Cantillon brewmaster Jean Van Roy as saying
that 2,000 visitors tour the Cantillon brewery each month, and that
they now produce 1,700 hl of beer per year.

The idea of storing beer in huge cellars began with a visit to a
champagne maker in Reims. Van Roy enlisted the help of the city
of Brussels to find a suitable place close to home.

It is said there are seven basement rooms, each with 15 square
meters of space.

Van Roy was quoted as having measured the temperature:
10 degrees celsius/50 fahrenheit in winter, and a max of
21 C/ 70 F in the heat of summer.

Photo, above: stocks of Kriek at the brewery
in 2008.

Cantillon signed a 30 year lease, as they view is as a long-term
project. Van Roy is quoted as saying they will add 3,000 to
4,000 bottles per year to the cellars, so that it might contain as
many as 80,000 bottles in twenty years.

Mostly, they are storing Oude Gueuze, but also lambic and Lou
Pepe Kriek. Some of the bottles date as far back as 2002. It is
said that Cantillon also is producing some bottles destined specially
for the cellar, such as an Oude Gueuze with a 2, 3, and 4 year old
blend, rather than the normal blend of 1, 2 and 3 year old. As well,
bottles sizes up to six liters are being aged there.

Van Roy was also quoted as saying he doesn't know if or when he
will sell any of the beer in the cellar.

He also said that in the year his son Florian was born, 1996, he began
to save and cellar certain amounts of bottles.

The articles goes on to say that next Saturday, November 10, will be
an open brew day, from 6:30 AM to 5 PM. See here for more details.

The original story is here