Adventures in Belgian Beer: Cantillon Brewery

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After a brief hiatus, it only seems appropriate to talk about my recent vacation to Europe. This past May, I had the great privilege to go to Belgium and The Netherlands for a much needed vacation. In case some of you were unaware, some of the most coveted brews are housed in Belgium and I am happy to report that the beer and the breweries are just as amazing as so many others have expressed.

My first brewery stop was the very famous Cantillon. As a sour beer fan, this was the brewery that I looked forward to the most on my trip. Even if you aren’t the biggest sour beer person, this brewery is a piece of the Belgian beer history that should not be missed if in Brussels. Barrels and barrels of the highly sought after sour/lambic style beers line the halls of this fascinating place.

The equipment that is used at Cantillon today dates back to the early 1900s.
The equipment that is used at Cantillon today dates back to the early 1900s.
Barrels and barrels of the Cantillon beers.
Barrels and barrels of the Cantillon beers.

The tour is self-guided, but it is such a unique place to visit, that it was pretty neat to have the whole brewery to explore. Walking through each of the rooms and reading through the guide book makes you appreciate the beer we all love to drink. The brewery is a complete family run operation and that shows when you are touring and enjoying the beers in the pub. If you don’t know much about why Cantillon beers taste the way they do, I suggest checking out their web site. I like the quote they have about their beers/brewery:

“Well, you are in a family brewery where LAMBIC, GUEUZE, FARO and KRIEK are made and where nothing has changed since 1900 when it was founded. The Van Roy-Cantillon family welcomes you and invites you to discover a fabulous world. Beers, tools and brewing process are still the same as in the beginning.  Red copper containers, barrels, some of them more than 100 years old, and walls of bottles constitute the scenery for your visit.  Maybe you’ll be lucky to see the brewing or the bottling, maybe you ‘ll see how barrels are cleaned or how fruit beers are made in summer. Maybe you’ll be lucky to see the brewing or the bottling, maybe you ‘ll see how barrels are cleaned or how fruit beers are made in summer.

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The famous “loon” outside of Cantillon Brewery

The beers have been made for decades and the amount of heart and soul that goes into this product is well seen when visiting.  The staff while visiting mentioned that all of the hype in the United States over their beers makes them shake their heads. To most of them, “It’s just beer.” I like to think that it is just beer, but it is a really really good beer.  The cool ship on the second level of the brewery is enough to make any beer person smile from ear to ear.  Most of their beer production was complete for the year by the time my visit happened, but the way that the air comes into the cool ship at night to naturally ferment the beers is just a great beer moment.  It makes you appreciate and understand the sour beer production from the beginning of the process.

If you ever get the joy of visiting Cantillon, make sure you save some room for some older bottles in the pub.  The prices are phenomenal and the beers they have available to drink on premises are enough to make any sour beer fan giddy with lambic joy.  Stay tuned for my next post where I’ll talk about my trip to Duvel and to a very well known lambic bar in Brussels. Until then…Cheers!

Cheers from Cantillon
Cheers from Cantillon

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