Anyone that knows me well knows that I love tart, sour brews, especially the balanced, refined lambic beers of Belgium’s Payottenland and Zenne valley, the area to the south and west of Brussels. Visiting lambic producers, whether it is a brewery or blendery, is always a special privilege. And an exciting one, at that!
The venerable Timmermans brewery in Itterbeek, Flemish Brabant, has been investing in an artisanal lambic project for the last several years, and they are very serious about it. The brewery hired lambic brewing legend Willem Van Herreweghen, who founded Geuzestekerij De Cam in 1996, as a consultant in the summer of 2009. Van Herreweghen is also now a member of the Board of Directors of Timmermans.
Up until late 2008, Timmermans had not produced an authentic Oude Geuze or Oude Kriek in over twenty years. Their beers were largely seen as being sweetened lambics by the aficionados of Oude Geuze and Oude Kriek.
Happily, that is changing in Belgium and further afield, as more beer lovers are able to taste the fine artisanal products being made there now. The good news: it’s only going to get better. Big things are afoot at this historic and now forward-thinking brewery.
I tasted the first of the “new” Oude Geuze in November 2008, and was suitably impressed about the potential of the beer. I also tasted several lambics and kriekenlambics right from the barrels, which were very enjoyable. The beers have continued to improve since that time.
Over the last several years, Van Herreweghen’s experience and expertise has brought these brews to a new level, and the project has really just begun, in lambic terms. “It’s really been about two years that we have had excellent lambic,” Willem told me on a chilly early December day in 2012. “And we will have much more in the future,” he added, smiling.