Monday, June 29, 2009

Belgium Trip: Day 8, Part 1 - Brasserie Cantillon

Turned the car in at Antwerp without a hitch...the mile walk to the train station was another matter. My backpack and luggage was pretty damned heavy but at least the luggage had wheels and I could shoulder the weight of the pack on my back. But Dave had a duffel bag (no wheels) that had grown quite heavy during the trip and he had a rough time getting it down the street to the station! But eventually we made it onto the train and the worst was over.

Once we arrived in Brussels, we stashed the luggage in an automated locker at the station and headed out to find Brasserie Cantillon.

Cantillon is a very traditional lambic brewery in operation since 1900 and is classified by the Belgian government as historic landmark. it operates under the more official name of "Musee Bruxellois de la Gueuze"

The brewery was quite a bit off the beaten path but after a couple wrong turns we eventually found it. The tour was 6 Euro each which included a couple of glasses of lambic at the end. We paid and were off.

No brewing was going on yet (too early in the fall for good wild yeast in the air) so we got a close up look at the empty mash tuns, the old copper kettles and the open air cooling tuns. Most impressive were the alcoves stacked with bottles upon bottles of lambic laid down for conditioning. If you've ever visited any of the large wine cellars in France, you know what it looked like. There were also scores of wooden barrels containing fermenting lambic, kriek, framboise and more of various ages.

After the tour, we hit the tasting area and were permitted one glass of gueuze and one glass of kriek. Wonderful as always. They also offered a plate of local cheese and sausages (gratis) which were delicious, especially since we had not had a decent meal yet and it was approaching lunchtime.

The gift shop had various gift boxes of various Cantillon offerings at very good prices...unfortunately our luggage was already set to burst. Next time maybe...

It was amazing. A must see for the beer lover. The slideshow to follow tomorrow speaks for itself.

***photo of Cantillon exterior - photo credit to Boak & Bailey's Beer Blog, I was in such a hurry to get inside that I forgot to take an exterior shot!


Bailey said...

That brewery really is wonderful -- like being in a farmhouse in the middle of a big, dirty city. And handy if you've got a two hour wait for Eurostar, too!

Heath said...

Yes, it really did have a rustic it didn't belong in the 21st century. But I suppose that's the point!

Unmissable if you are in Brussels...