Toer de Geuze, the biennial event that is quickly becoming the epicenter of the lambic beer world every odd-numbered year, is quickly approaching. The 2017 tour now is now officially two days instead one. Saturday and Sunday, May 6 and 7, 2017, will see lambic beer lovers descend upon Belgium’s Payottenland and Zenne (Senne) Valley, an area south and east of Brussels where most of the lambic breweries and blenderies are located, to taste the superlative spontaneously fermented brews produced there. Here is a preview of what you can expect at Toer de Geuze this year. Note that a few lambic producers, namely, Hanssens Artisanal, Brouwerij Mort Subite, and Brouwerij Timmermans, will only be open for the traditional Sunday Toer de Geuze day. The rest will be open both days. As always, Toer de Geuze does not require a ticket, and you pay for samples and beers as you go. You can simply show up at any of the open lambic producers (Brouwerij Boon, Oude Geuzestekerij De Cam, Brouwerij De Troch, Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen, Hanssens Artisanal, Brouwerij Lindemans, Brouwerij Mort Subite, Oud Beersel, Gueuzerie Tilquin, and Brouwerij Timmermans.)
To top it all off, 2017 is the twentieth anniversary of Toer de Geuze. The first TDG was held in October 1997.
As far as getting around, you can drive or take buses to the breweries. HORAL, the High Council for Artisanal Lambic Beers, is once again organizing buses that will run on various routes to the places open for TDG. You can read about it and the bus schedules here. You better hurry, as nearly all the seats are already sold out: 1,000+ have been reserved as of Wednesday, April 26. These buses are being organized this year by De Lambikstoempers, Belgium’s premier lambic beer appreciation and promotion club, based in nearby Halle. De Lambikstoempers organize several lambic events each year.
If you don’t have accommodation, you can camp on the grounds of the De Lambiek Visitor’s center in Alsemberg (Alsembergsteenweg 1046.) See image below for info. In the fact, the visitor’s center is a must visit. You read more details about it in a previous article, here
Also open will be In de Verzekering tegen de Grote Dorst (Frans Baetensstraat 45, Eizeringen/Lennik) which has been voted as best beer cafe in the world several times. “The Insurance against the Great Thirst” will be open Saturday May 6 from 11 am to 10 pm and Sunday May 7th from 10 am to 8 pm. “And perhaps longer, depending on how many people are here!” Yves Panneels remarked in late April.
Brouwerij Boon in Lembeek (Fonteinstraat 65) you could come to the brewery by boat up the Zenne all weekend. Boats leave from the Suikerkaai in Halle, and stop about three minute’s walk from the brewery. See here for more info. You could also drive or take a bus, as most beer lovers will be doing. Boon will open at 11.00 on Saturday May 6, and close at 10 pm. There will be live music beginning at 2 pm. Boon will open from 10 am to 6 pm On Sunday, May 7.
Boon will release a new version of its Black Label, Oude Geuze Boon Black Label Edition N°3, at its Connoisseurs bar. I have savored the first two versions of the brew, and found them very much to my liking: very dry, earthy, and with notice funk and boon house character.
Frank Boon’s son Karel told me: “The idea for the Connoisseurs Bar was one that we had to show people the possibilities that exist with geuze and how aging effects these beers. We hope you enjoy these special brews!”
Brouwerij Boon and Global Beer Network recently announced a new import partnership for the U.S. You can read about it here
Food will also be available to help absorb all the lambic you will be savoring. Also, The next generation of Boon brewers, Frank’s sons Jos and Karel, should be on hand as well. Karel recently finished an internship at Bieres de Chimay, a Belgian Trappist brewery, and is an enthusiastic beer lover. Their sister, Bertien, a graphic designer, and Karel helped design the new Boon website. An older brother, Jan, is a software programmer who sometimes helps with brewery IT issues. Boon is a family affair.
Karel Boon also had this to say: “I can certainly tell you that I had a great time at Chimay and learned a lot during the 6 months that I worked there. However, from the day I started the internship I couldn’t wait to start at our brewery, Boon. During the internship I filled much of my free time with preparations for the organization of Toer de Geuze and other work for Boon. So now that I have started, I am very happy to work together with my father and brother. Of course this is real life and not a fantasy, so it’s a real job with more than regular working hours. There’s a lot of organization work that needs to be done, stuff you have to do in an office, but we can also be creative with beer and other things. And that is exactly what I like to do. Also my interests and specializations fit perfectly well with my brother, who is focused on production.”
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