Two brew days at Brasserie Cantillon

Published on January 24, 2018.

After the mashing of the grains is completed, and during the long four hour boil in the two copper kettles, the mash tun is emptied of the spent grains, which are given to a local farmer. The farmer picks up the grains and later feeds them to his (very happy!) cows.

This 2003 photo shows the idle mash tun before cleaning.

This 2003 photo shows the idle mash tun before cleaning.

Brewmaster Jean Van Roy is shoveling spent grains out of the mash tun in this 2003 photo.

Brewmaster Jean Van Roy is shoveling spent grains out of the mash tun in this 2003 photo.

One of the Cantillon team prepares to roll a container full of spent grains out of the mash tun room in this 2003 photo.

One of the Cantillon team prepares to roll a container full of spent grains out of the mash tun room in this 2003 photo.

The inside of the Cantillon mash tun after cleaning.

The inside of the Cantillon mash tun after cleaning.

After cleaning, copper plates, which are porous and act as a filter, are put back into the mash tun.

After cleaning, copper plates, which are porous and act as a filter, are put back into the mash tun.

A Cantillon team member putting one of the filter plates back in place in the bottom of the mash tun.

A Cantillon team member putting one of the filter plates back in place in the bottom of the mash tun.

Two of the copper filter plates in place in the mash tun after cleaning.

Two of the copper filter plates in place in the mash tun after cleaning.

The mash tun at Brasserie Cantillon, cleaned and ready for another brew day.

The mash tun at Brasserie Cantillon, cleaned and ready for another brew day.

The farmer pulls his truck and trailer inside the brewery's garage doors to pick up the spent grains left over from the mashing process.

The farmer pulls his truck and trailer inside the brewery’s garage doors to pick up the spent grains left over from the mashing process.

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The farmer who is given the spent grains.

Rudy Bayens, the farmer who is given the spent grains.

The spent grains are shoveled into a brown container (shown hoisted in the air here) and rolled out from the mash tun room.

The spent grains are shoveled into a brown container (shown hoisted in the air here) and rolled out from the mash tun room.

The brown container ijn the air contains the first load of spent grains from the mash tun at Brasserie Cantillon.

The brown container hoisted in the air contains the first load of spent grains from the mash tun at Brasserie Cantillon.

One of the Cantillon team dumps a container of spent grains into the farmer's truck.

One of the Cantillon team dumps a container of spent grains into the farmer’s truck.

The warm grains immediately steam up after hitting the cold trailer.

The warm grains immediately steam up after hitting the cold trailer.

Jean-Pierre Van Roy, Jean Van Roy's father, is shown here, center.

Jean-Pierre Van Roy, Jean Van Roy’s father, is shown here, center.

Spent grains in the back of the farmer's trailer.

Spent grains in the back of the farmer’s trailer.

Another load of spent grains being positioned to be dumped into the farmer's trailer.

Another load of spent grains being positioned to be dumped into the farmer’s trailer.

Another load of spent grains being pumped into the farmer's truck. It take about seven loads to empty the mash tun.

Another load of spent grains being dumped into the farmer’s truck. It takes about seven loads to empty the mash tun.

Farmer xxxxx with a trailer full of spent grains.

Farmer Rudy Bayens with a trailer full of spent grains.

The beers available for on-site consumption only on February 7, 2017.

The beers available for on-site consumption only on February 7, 2017.

The beers available for take away on 7 February 2017.

The beers available for take away on 7 February 2017.

After the spent grains are picked up by the farmer, which usually happens between 1 and 1:30 pm on a typical brew day, there is a lull until about 3:15 pm, when the hot wort will be pumped into the coolship. Luckily, this makes for a good time to sample a beer or three. During my February 2017 visit, Cantillon was bottling an Armagnac-barrel aged version of their excellent, Cognac barrel-aged 50 N 4 E. Jean was kind enough to pull a bottle off the bottling line and let me and some others present taste this brew. “It’s really a very elegant, refined version of our 50 North,” he told me. Upon tasting it, I agreed: even with no bottle maturation, it was fantastic, as he had described. This bottling should be released sometime soon, and should be an instant hit. Its beautiful complexity will surely make it a much loved brew, perhaps among some of the best that Cantillon has produced. We tasted this beer back to back with the most recent batch of 50 N 4 E, and I felt that the Armagnac version, even with no bottle aging, was superior to the Cognac barrel-aged version. The Armagnac version will use the same label as the normal 50 N 4 E, but with a mention that it is aged in Armagnac barrels.

One of the Cantillon team taking bottles of Armagnac-barrel aged 50 N 4 E off the bottling line.

One of the Cantillon team taking bottles of Armagnac-barrel aged 50 N 4 E off the bottling line.

Armagnac-barrel aged 50 N 4 E being bottled at Brasserie Cantillon, February 7, 2017.

Armagnac-barrel aged 50 N 4 E being bottled at Brasserie Cantillon, February 7, 2017.

Jean Van Roy pouring glasses of Armagnac barrel-aged 50 N 4 E.

Jean Van Roy pouring glasses of Armagnac barrel-aged 50 N 4 E.

Another shot of Jean Van Roy pouring Armagnac barrel-aged 50 N 4 E.

Another shot of Jean Van Roy pouring Armagnac barrel-aged 50 N 4 E.

Just for comparison, Jean also opened a 50 N 4E so those present could compare the Armagnac and Cognac barrel-aged versions side by side.

Just for comparison, Jean also opened a 50 N 4 E so those present could compare the Armagnac and Cognac barrel-aged versions side by side.

Jean Van Roy pouring a 50 N 4 E, their Cognac barrel-aged lambic.

Jean Van Roy pouring a 50 N 4 E, their Cognac barrel-aged lambic.

Another shot of Jean Van Roy pouring 50 N 4 E.

Another shot of Jean Van Roy pouring 50 N 4 E.

After tasting the Armagnac and Cognac barrel-aged beers, there was time to have some 2014 Lou Pepe Kriek. Do not miss any chance to savor this fantastic brew.

After tasting the Armagnac and Cognac barrel-aged beers, there was time to have some 2014 Lou Pepe Kriek. Do not ever miss a chance to savor this fantastic brew.

Jean Van Roy pouring samples of 2003 Lou Pepe Kriek. A real treat! It had a beautiful aged cherry character, medium funk and horseblanket notes, and a complex flavor, well balanced character, with a moderate tartness.

Jean Van Roy pouring samples of 2003 Lou Pepe Kriek. A real treat! It had a beautiful aged cherry character, medium funk and horseblanket notes, and a complex flavor, and a well balanced character, with a moderate tartness.

Another shot of Jean Van Roy pouring a 2003 Lou Pepe Kriek.

Another shot of Jean Van Roy pouring a 2003 Lou Pepe Kriek.

Brasserie Cantillon 2003 Lou Pepe Kriek.

Brasserie Cantillon 2003 Lou Pepe Kriek.

During my February visit, we also sampled Fou' Foune and 2007 Gueuze.

During my February visit, we also sampled Fou’ Foune and 2007 Gueuze.

The beer board listing the beers offered for drinking in only on 28 November 2017.

The beer board listing the beers offered for drinking in only on 28 November 2017.

The board listing beers which could be bought and taken away on 28 November 2017. It's much more limited than the drinking in board.

The board listing beers which could be bought and taken away on 28 November 2017. It’s much more limited than the drinking in board.

During my visit in November 2017, there was also some time for tasting some of the world’s most interesting beers. As it should be. No, as it must be. “Nath” was new to me, having been released since my previous visit in May, just before Toer de Geuze. (I visited Belgium, and Brasserie Cantillon, three times in 2017.) Nath is a tribute to Jean Van Roy’s wife, Nathalie Somerlinckx. “Nath is Nathalie’s nickname, and her favorite beer is rhubarb blended with lambic. So it was natural that I dedicated a rhubarb beer to her,” Jean told me. “Nath is a kindergarten teacher, and her pupils drew a picture of her for the label of the beer,” he added. Cantillon’s Zwanze 2008 and 2012 were also blends of rhubarb and lambic, and Jean plans to make Nath a semi-regular, seasonal offering. Nath contains freshly picked rhubarb, which is macerated with two year old lambic.

I tasted both the 2008 and 2012 Zwanze beers at least a couple of times, and I think Nath is the pinnacle of the trio. Perhaps having worked with this plant and lambic several times before, Van Roy has now perfected the blend.

Cantillon Nath, savored during my November 2017 visit to the brewery. This beer is a tribute to Jean's wife, Nathalie. See text above for more details.

Cantillon Nath, savored during my November 2017 visit to the brewery. This beer is a tribute to Jean’s wife, Nathalie. See text above for more details.

Another shot of Brasserie Cantillon's Nath.

Another shot of Brasserie Cantillon’s Nath.

The back label of Nath.

The back label of Nath.

I also shared a bottle of Mamouche with a friend this day. Mamouche is dedicated to Van Roy’s mother, Claude Cantillon. Her grandchildren’s nickname for her is Mamouche, hence the name of the beer. Mamouche contains elderflowers, which were steeped with two year old Cantillon lambic. It was first brewed as the 2009 Zwanze beer, and for the 2010 bottling, the name was changed to Mamouche.

I also couldn't resist tasting some Mamouche in November. This beer contains elderflowers, which were steeped with two year old Cantillon lambic.

I also couldn’t resist tasting some Mamouche in November. This beer contains elderflowers, which were steeped with two year old Cantillon lambic.

The back label of Cantillon Mamouche. This bottle was filled on 31 May 2017.

The back label of Cantillon Mamouche. This bottle was filled on 31 May 2017.

CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE-more about the mashing of the grains, and a taste of wort.

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