As we approached Hanssens, I told Goose Island brewer Dave Tohtz to stick with me, as I can sometimes make good things happen. I suggested we pop in for a beer at Herberg De Zwaan, one of the best new lambic cafes in the Payottenland. I wrote about it here. It was easy, as our driver parked the coach right across the street, and the cafe is not much more than a hundred yards from Hanssens. We popped in and were greeted by co-owner Adri Vanderelst, who opened the cafe with his brother (and family) on October 1, 2011. I asked Adri if we could do a quick cellar tour, and he agreed. This was my third visit to the kelder at De Zwaan, which is full of great lambic brews and other beers. I think Dave appreciated being able to see a real Belgian cellar up close. We then quickly enjoyed a Girardin Oude Lambiek on tap, and headed on to Hanssens. You have to maximize your enjoyment when on the last day of a tour. And so we did.
Oh yes, we did.
Hanssens was somewhat crowded with thirsty TDG attendees, being a pretty small place, like 3 Fonteinen. However, the beer selection was excellent, as they had a lambiek pouring directly from a wooden barrel, as well as their Framboos, Oude Gueuze, Schaarbeekse Kriek, Cassis, and Oude Geuze Megablend 2015.
Toer de Geuze is a GREAT (and possibly your only!) opportunity to visit Hanssens Artisanal, as they are rarely open otherwise. Hanssens used to be open for direct sales to the public on Fridays afternoons and Saturday mornings, but business is so good that they now sell all of their beers directly to beer distributors and importers. This makes things much easier for husband and wife team of John Matthys and Sidy Hanssens. Sidy’s father Jean ran the blendery until she and John took over many years ago. The beers are known for being a bit more acidic than those of the other lambic producers, so if you like very tart beers, you WILL like the Hanssens beers. I (practically) guarantee it!
The Hanssens site is more than 100 years old, and has a hodgepodge of older barrels sourced from various places, as well as several rows of newer barrels. Sidy and John are also very warm and welcoming, as were all of their volunteers, and our group enjoyed their visit to the blendery. Uli Kremer, the German beer lover who is known for his masterful H. ertie lambic beer (and other beer style) blends, was working as a volunteer at Hanssens that day. I managed to pick up one of his Golden Blend, a blend of six different vintages of Lindemans lambics from 18 different barrels. I shared this with the group at our final bottle share later that night. Another great blend from Uli.
Here is a video of the courtyard at Hanssens, plus a few great beers.
And that was our Toer de Geuze 2015. On the next page, you will see the BBM! group having a farewell dinner and beers at Gasthof d’Oude Brouwerij, at Affligem.