Brouwerij Kestemont joins The High Council for Artisanal Lambic Beers, and Toer de Geuze 2024

HORAL, The High Council for Artisanal Lambic Beers, has just added another new member. Brouwerij Kestemont, which I wrote about last year on these pages in this previous article here was inducted as a member of HORAL on Thursday, January 11, 2024.

Brouwerij Kestemont opened on the same grounds as the old Brouwerij Goossens in the village of Sint Gertrudis-Pede (Schepdaal) which is part of Dilbeek, in 2019. Kestemont started as a lambic blendery, and a brewery was added in 2021, and they began brewing in March of that year. The beers are so new, in lambic terms, that Kestemont just released their first brews to the public in September 2022.

Being admitted to HORAL as a member is a great honor for any lambic producer, as it means that the lambic brewery or lambic blendery being admitted has met the strict conditions set forth by HORAL for membership.

The HORAL press release, sent by Yves Panneels, who is co-owner of the highly-regarded and famous lambic specialty cafe “In de Verzekering tegen de Grote Dorst” and who is also a member of the Board of Directors of HORAL, and who additionally runs the Force3 – PR & Communication firm, states:

“On Thursday, Brouwerij Kestemont officially joined the High Council for Artisanal Lambic Beers (HORAL). In addition to the newcomer from Dilbeek, 12 other lambic brewers and gueuze blenders from the Pajottenland and the Senne Valley are HORAL members. Together, they represent more than 80% of traditional lambic production. The non-profit organization aims to promote traditional lambic beers, particularly Oude Geuze and Oude Kriek, and to protect these beers. HORAL also organizes the legendary Toer de Geuze. The next edition of this open lambic brewery and blendery weekend will take place on May 4 and 5, 2024. All HORAL members, including newcomer Kestemont, will open their doors to the general public.

Two years after the Kestemont family in 2017 purchased the partially restored buildings of the former Goossens brewery in Sint-Gertrudis-Pede (a hamlet of Dilbeek), Lias Kestemont (37) and his brother-in-law Wim Krieckemans (38) ordered their first shipment of wort from Brouwerij Den Herberg.

“We let it mature in oak barrels in the large barn. Two years later, we invested in our own brewing equipment, with which we can brew 1,500 litres at a time,” says Lias Kestemont. “Our lambic stock currently amounts to around 700 hectolitres. In the barrel room, one will find French wine barrels of approximately 200 litres, 500-litre wine barrels of Italian origin, and even various cognac barrels in which between 400 and 600 litres of lambic can mature. Altogether, about 360 different barrels.”

His brother-in-law Wim added: “Although we are one of the youngest lambic producers, Lias and I hold tradition and authenticity of paramount importance. In addition to our Oude Geuze, Oude Kriek and Oude Schaarbeekse Kriek, we offer Oude Lambiek in bag-in-box format through specialized retailers, intended for pub owners and lambic enthusiasts. Our range includes many tasty, 100% traditionally made fruit lambics, such as our Apricot, awarded a silver medal at the Brussels Beer Challenge in 2023, and the Coulis Spécial, made with home-grown red berries, and other berries. Around the Toer de Geuze 2024, we will release a lambic beer with blood orange and another with bergamot. We are looking forward to making this biennial lambic event a great success with all other HORAL members!”

“Kestemont’s accession to our non-profit organization was unanimously approved by the General Assembly. Four new members in four years. All ambitious new members who fully support HORAL’s objectives. In 2020, we welcomed Lambiek Fabriek, a year later Brouwerij Den Herberg, and exactly 12 months ago Eylenbosch,” stated HORAL chairman Gert Christiaens. “The Lambicland landscape is becoming more diverse. It contributes to the greater attraction that the Pajottenland and the Senne Valley exert on beer lovers from our country and far beyond. During the first weekend of May, HORAL will again celebrate the high mass of the Oude Geuze and Oude Kriek. There is still much work to be done, but I am convinced that the upcoming Toer de Geuze will surpass all previous editions regarding visitor numbers.”

The Toer de Geuze 2024 program and all other practical details regarding the open brewery weekend were recently announced. Ticket sales for the buses operated by HORAL have started. See this page here to reserve a seat on those buses.

Having attended Toer de Geuze in 2009, 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019, and 2022, I can safely say it is one of the most important and enjoyable events of the lambic and Belgian beer worlds. I highly encourage lambic beers fans to attend this bucket list weekend of lambic beer appreciation, and immersion into lambic beer culture!

HORAL was founded in 1997. The non-profit organization unites most Geuze blenders and lambic breweries in Flemish and Walloon Brabant. Boon, De Oude Cam, De Troch, Den Herberg, Eylenbosch, Hanssens, Kestemont, Lambiek Fabriek, Lindemans, Mort Subite, Oud Beersel, Tilquin and Timmermans are the members of the brewers’ association.”

Brouwerij Kestemont, like most of the great breweries, cafes, and distilleries in Belgium’s Payottenland and Zenne Valley, is not easy to reach by public transport. Belgium’s drunk driving laws are very strict, so I recommend visiting the area with a local, or with a group.

One such person is Patrick Van der Spiegel. As a resident of Halle, ten miles southwest of Brussels in Belgium’s lambic country, he has lived his life savoring and enjoying lambic brews. Patrick has two projects, “The Land of Geuze” and “Lambic Tours” which both have Facebook and Instagram pages. The Lambic Tours website is here.

To sum up, Patrick Van der Spiegel organizes tours to lambic breweries, geuze blenderies, and traditional Belgian pubs in and near the Pajottenland and the Zenne Valley. Patrick guides these tours himself, and can do so in English, Dutch, and French. In addition, there is the possibility to pair these tours with guided tours at breweries or blenderies, with professional tour guides, or lambic brewers/blenders. These tours typically include tasting samples of multiple beers, and an optional lunch or dinner for the whole group.

Lambic lover and tour guide Patrick van der Spiegel (left) with Wanne Madaljins, President of De Lambikstoempers lambic beer appreciation club, and member of the Board of Directors of HORAL (right.)

If you are interested in these custom guided tours, feel free to fill in the contact form on their website (lambictours.com) or send an email to patrick@lambictours.be. It is also possible to send private messages through their Instagram and Facebook pages.

Patrick’s lambic tours can be summed up in one word: Marvelous!

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