Gueuzerie Tilquin: Toer de Geuze 2024, the “Family Tree Project”, and more!

Gueuzerie Tilquin has announced its plans for Toer de Geuze 2024, and the revered lambic blendery-now also a lambic brewery-should be a great place to spend a few hours during the weekend of May 4 and 5.

Image courtesy Gueuzerie Tilquin.

Toer de Geuze is an open house at most of the lambic breweries and lambic blenderies in Belgium’s Payottenland and Zenne Valley. With thousands of attendees, it is the biggest event in the lambic beer world, and it happens only once every two years. Toer de Geuze is organized by HORAL, The High Council for Artisanal Lambic Beers. HORAL was founded in 1997, and is a non-profit organization comprised of most of the lambic producers in Belgium. This is from HORAL: “The main objective of the association is the promotion of traditional lambic beers, in particular Oude Geuze and Oude Kriek. The association also takes initiatives to protect these beers. Every two years HORAL organizes the Toer de Geuze, the open brewery day of the Pajottenland and the Senne valley.”

If you are a lambic fan, you can become a supporting member of HORAL. See here for more info.

For 2024, the participating members of Toer de Geuze are Boon, De Cam, De Troch, Den Herberg, Eylenbosch, Hannsens, Kestemont, Lambiek Fabriek, Lindemans, Mort Subite, Oud Beersel, Tilquin, and Timmermans.

Gueuzerie Tilquin joined HORAL in 2012, and first participated in Toer de Geuze in 2013.

Toer de Geuze used to be held on odd numbered years. I attended in 2009, 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019, and 2022. The global pandemic threw the timing off, so beginning in 2022, the event is now being held on even numbered years.

I wrote about a previous edition of Toer de Geuze in this article here. I highly recommend this fun, educational, and highly enjoyable weekend of lambic beer immersion!

Gueuzerie Tilquin master blender and owner Pierre Tilquin had this to say about plans for the 2024 event:

“At the occasion of the Toer de Geuze 2024, it’s an open-doors weekend at Gueuzerie Tilquin, on the 4th and 5th of May 2024. Everyone is welcome. The entry is free. It is possible to get a free guided tour of the blendery (in French, Dutch, or English) and to taste all our beers at the bar, and to buy them in our shop. There will be good food and a bouncy castle… All you need to have a great time with friends and family.

Gueuzerie Tilquin offers to all visitors making the guided tour a free glass of lambic.

A new ABRICOT TILQUIN A L’ANCIENNE will be presented for this edition of the Toer de Geuze, together with a new gueuze from our Family Tree Project : GUEUZE TILQUIN A L’ANCIENNE – CUVEE ARTHUR (20% one year old, 30% two years old, and 50% three year old lambics).

Who is hungry at Gueuzerie Tilquin can find pig on the spit prepared by butcher Fisette, or Brussels style meatballs from Tartempion, and fish & chips from Biamara.

Finally, there will be a parking area opposite to the blendery.
Everybody welcome!”

So, there will be plenty of tasty foods to choose from!

The Abricot Tilquin promises to be another delicious fruit lambic from Tilquin, who has done dozens of such lambics over the nearly 15 year history of the blendery. Abricot is French for apricot-and one of the world’s most famous lambic beers, Brasserie Cantillon’s Fou’ Foune, is an apricot lambic.

The Cuvee Arthur should be equally as interesting, and something that fans of Oude Gueuze should not miss. Most Oude Gueuzes are blends of 1, 2, and 3 year old lambic, and while there are no rules saying how much three year old lambic must be in a blend, it is much more common to see a proportion of between 5 and 20% of said lambic in such blends. The three year old lambic brings maturity to the blend, while the one year old component is not fully fermented, so the beer will continue to evolve. The two year proportion of the blend lends a balance between the one and three year old lambics.

A blend with 50% three year old lambic is likely to be very complex, while still being refreshing. Pierre Tilquin had this to say when he tasted Cuvee Arthur recently: “With one year in the bottle, it is tasteful. A delightful blend, with a nice foam head. A great gueuze.” I can’t wait to taste this one!

There were about 25 different Tilquin lambics on offer during the 2022 Toer de Geuze, and it should be a similar number for 2024.

One of my favorite new oude gueuzes in the last few years is Tilquin’s superb “Oude Gueuze Tilquin à L’Ancienne – Lambics Vieillis en Fûts de Cognac” which debuted in 2023. Pierre Tilquin says: “In this special blend, we used 40% two year old lambics that fermented and matured for two years in freshly emptied Cognac barrels. A proportion of 30% one year old lambics and 30% three year old lambics were used in the blend to bring freshness and complexity, respectively.” I enjoyed this beer immensely during Tilquin’s open beer days in early September. The interplay of Cognac flavor, mild to medium tartness, and noticeable funkiness made it a spectacular lambic. ***Note that this beer is sadly, sold out.***

I have visited Gueuzerie Tilquin many times since May 2010. My most recent visit was during their open door days weekend in September 2023, and Pierre Tilquin filled me in on some of the recent happenings.

“We added a small lambic brewery a couple of years ago, and the first brew day was in early 2022,” Tilquin says. He then went into more detail: “Thursday, 27 January, was a historic day, as a new lambic brewery started in the Senne valley. We made our first lambic brew, in Bierghes (Rebecq), with our new brewing installation, which was designed with the help of our friend, Maxime Libouton. The brewing method used is the one of turbid mash. Mashing with 60% organic malted barley and 40% organic raw wheat. Parts of turbid wort are taken during the mashing process and boiled to keep some complex sugars, and to allow the addition of hot water in the mash tun to increase the temperature in steps. Last step at 78°C (note: about 172 degrees Fahrenheit) with the addition of the turbid wort. After a period of decanting, filtration takes place. The resulting clear wort is brought to a boil. There is an addition of aged hops. The wort is boiled for at least 2 hours. During this time, the spent grains are emptied, and two 500 liter barrels were steamed. The wort is then pumped to the coolship. The wort is then inoculated with wild yeasts and bacteria in the open air overnight. After cooling, it is then pumped into oak barrels for fermentation. Two 500 liter barrels were filled. The aim is certainly not to replace the production of the blendery, but to experiment and eventually produce a small volume of 100% organic Tilquin gueuze.”

I can’t wait to taste the new, organically made, 100% Tilquin Gueuze in the future, possibly sometime in 2025! Given Pierre Tilquin’s determined desire for excellence in his brews, it should be well worth the wait.

Tilquin has made lots of fruited lambics, as well as lambics infused with grapes and other things, over the years. I tasted the Oude Viognier Tilquin à L’Ancienne, which is macerated with 250 grams of Viognier grapes per liter of lambic. I enjoyed this very interesting lambic.

There were dozens of different beers available during the Open Beer Days, as Gueuzerie Tilquin has been very prolific in experimenting and creating new lambics. As to what new beers Tilquin lambic fans should expect to see in 2024, Pierre had this to say: “There will be some new family tree blends, Abricot Tilquin à l’ancienne, Kriek de Schaerbeek Tilquin à l’ancienne (!), Abricot Draft Version, Abricot-Rhubarbe Draft Version, and the Tilquin Fruit Extravaganza 2024, with 10 different beers on draft.”

This event will happen on March 22-24 at selected bars in Belgium and the U.K., as well as the Tilquin taproom in Bierghes (Rebecq) in the province of Wallonian Brabant. Note that Gueuzerie Tilquin is the only lambic producer in French-speaking Wallonia, the southern half of Belgium. The Tilquin Fruit Extravaganza 2024 will continue at several bars in The Netherlands on April 5-7. Please see here for details about the plans for each venue.

The Tilquin Family Tree Project was created to honor Pierre’s Tilquin’s ancestors with various lambic blends. About the project, Tilquin had this to say: “As a tribute to each of my ancestors, I would like to create a special blend (cuvée) of GUEUZE TILQUIN À L’ANCIENNE for each ancestor (male and female), with an increasing amount of two and three year old lambics in the blend. If possible, each blend will be obtained from the blend of 10 barrels of 400 liters to reach a production of 5000 bottles of 75cl. Note that each blend will mature in the bottle for one year before release.”

Tilquin added: “We started on March 1st, 2021, with a special blend in honor of my father, Jean-Paul Tilquin (1947-2010).

All is well at Gueuzerie Tilquin. It continues to be one of Belgium’s premier lambic producers, and Pierre Tilquin has demonstrated time and time again that he is one of the best lambic blenders in the business. I highly recommend a visit, and to enjoy the Tilquin brews, wherever you can find them!

For those wishing to visit Gueuzerie Tilquin, or the great breweries, cafes, and distilleries in Belgium’s Payottenland and Zenne Valley, note that many are 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.

I wrote about Patrick Van der Spiegel’s tours in this previous article here.

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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