De Lambikstoempers, the premier Zythos-affiliated beer appreciation and promotion club in Belgium’s lambic country, organizes several events throughout the year. The club is based in Halle, a small city ten miles south of Brussels.
One of the club’s premier events is their Bier Weekend, a beer festival that usually is held during the last full weekend of August each year. (With the BXL Beer Fest the same weekend in Brussels this year, this is an ideal weekend for beer lovers to visit!) The Lambikstoempers event will feature over 100 different brews, including most of the readily available lambic beers brewed and blended in Belgium’s lambic country, which includes the city of Brussels as well as the area to the south and west of the city. The Zenne Valley is the heart of this lambic country.
The venue for the event is De Lambiek (“The Lambic”) a lambic beer visitor’s center that opened on May 14, 2011 in the village of Alsemberg, near the town of Beersel. This 1.7 million euro project was created by the initiative of several organizations. The Municipality of Beersel, with the cooperation of Tourism Flanders and the Tourist Office of The Province of Flemish Brabant, as well as HORAL (The High Council for Artisanal Lambic Beers) collaborated on the venture.
Flemish Brabant is, of course, the locale of the Payottenland: the home of lambic, geuze, and kriek beers. De Lambiek’s location makes perfect sense, as the Municipality of Beersel consists of the towns of Alsemberg, Beersel, Dworp, Huizingen and Lot. Brussels is just 12km/7.5 miles away.
De Lambiek showcases the hallowed spontaneously fermented beers produced by Belgium’s lambic makers, and it is the lambic beer equivalent of the Maison du Vin in Bordeaux. There are three members located very near the venue, which are Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen, and Oud Beersel, both in the town of Beersel; and the Hanssens lambic blendery in Dworp.
The other eight members are Brouwerij Boon of Lembeek; De Oude Geuzestekerij De Cam in Gooik; Brouwerij Girardin of St-Ulriks Kapelle; Brouwerij Lindemans of Vlezenbeek; Brouwerij Mort Subite of Kobbegem; Gueuzerie Tilquin of Rebecq-Bierghes; Brouwerij Timmermans of Itterbeek; and Brouwerij De Troch of Wambeek.
Each HORAL lambic blendery and brewery has its own dedicated display case to showcase its products. Other highlights include a pair of hollowed out foeders: large wooden barrels, where you can listen to the sounds of the Oude Geuze brewing process and match which part of the process you think is represented in the audio. Another interactive display stimulates the olfactory senses: do you want to smell cherries, hops, wheat, and barley? You can, here.
It is a unique experience for visitors.
There is also a short history of beer from around 500 A.D. to the present on one of the walls of the center, focusing on lambic. A 100+ seat movie theater provides enough room for even very large groups to view a 15-minute video about lambic and geuze production, filmed at HORAL’s member breweries. The video is offered in four languages, and is highly informative.
De Lambiek’s tasting room is the great place to sample lambic brews in a modern, bright, airy building, with seating for around 100 persons inside, and dozens more outside on the patio.
Prices are very reasonable, and Oude Geuze and Oude Kriek are stocked in 375 ml (12.7 ounce) bottles, making them easy to share, using special De Lambiek tasting glasses. Also, there is always a draft “Beer of the Month” on.
Such a venue is of course the perfect locale for a beer festival. The Beer Weekend will run from 2 pm till midnight on Saturday 25th August, and from 2 pm until 8 pm on Sunday, 26 August.
The Lambikstoempers are still working on confirming all the special beers that will be available at the Bier Weekend. “We can say that there will be at least three exclusive lambic beers on draft during the fest, including a Dutch lambic,” says Kristof Verhasselt, Social Media Manager of De Lambikstoempers.
Verhasselt continued: “We will also have a Boon/Mikkeller collab, Oude Geuze Vermouth; Cuvée Lambikstoemper; and Brouwerij De Feniks Five A Day 2018 Limited Edition, which is Batch 1 of a barrel aged sour fruit beer infused with 60 year old Goossens lambic!”
You can see the beer list for the fest here
While the other straight draft lambics are not yet confirmed, I would point out that there are several new lambic producers in Belgium, including Lambiek Fabriek of Ruisbroek, Belgoo Beer of Sint-Pieters-Leeuw, and Brouwerij Den Herberg of Buizingen. I have visited all three of these beer makers, and they all produce superb brews.
“Of course, at our Beer Weekend, we offer many styles of beer, not just lambic beers. We will focus on the Brussels breweries this year,” Verhasselt says. I suspect that may mean we could possibly see beers from Brasserie de la Senne, Brussels Beer Project, Beerstorming, Brasserie Cantillon, Brasserie de l’ Ermitage, Brasserie En Stoemelings, No Science, and perhaps more.
Food options will include boterhammen met plattekaas (slices of local bread with a fresh, soft cheese, made with pasteurized milk from Pajottenland cows) and glazed ham, marinated in beer.
Don’t miss this great venue and great event! It’s a lambic drinkers dream come true. I have attended twice in the past few years, and I highly recommend you do too.
De Lambiek is located at Gemeenveldstraat 1, Alsemberg. Postal code 1652. Telephone is 02 359 16 36. For information about how to get to De Lambiek, see here.
Also, if you are looking for hotel or B&B options, I can name a couple of good ones. In Halle, the Kaai 16 B&B is a great place to stay, and is right across a canal from the train station. The B&B offers a good breakfast, and you can use the refrigerator. There is also a selection of beers to choose from. If you do stay in Halle, do not miss the superb ‘t Parlement, a great beer bar run by Frank and Mina, with over 100 different beers, lots of lambics, and a big list of spirits, especially single malts from Scotland, and Whisky. Food too.
Also of great interest to the beer lover and more is the Streekproducten Centrum in Halle, which is a regional products center run by the Province of Flemish Brabant. Just about every gourmet product imaginable that is produced within the province is represented here, at very low prices. There are many lambic and other beers on offer, as well as wines, liquors, chocolates, cheeses, and more.
If you want to stay the night in Brussels, there is one great hotel there that every beer lover should visit: Vintage Hotel. This boutique hotel is located near place Louise, and features is own bar with four beers on draft, included one dedicated to Brasserie Cantillon. Yes, you read that correctly. The other three drafts feature beers from other breweries in Brussels, such as Brasserie de la Senne, and beers from Wallonia, the French-speaking southern half of Belgium. Brasserie Dupont and Brasserie De Bastogne, among others The bar at Vintage Hotel also stocks a few different Cantillon beers in bottles.