Something is moving in the Pajottenland. On 26-27 August 2017, at our Lambikstoempers beer weekend you could already taste Lambic from the breweries Belgoo (Sint-Pieters-Leeuw) on one hand and Den Herberg (Buizingen) on the other hand. And … Sunday 1 October 2017 the Lambiek Fabriek (Ruisbroek) proudly presents its Brett-Elle Oude Geuze to the public. Really worth discovering!
Lambiek Fabriek are Jozef Van Bosstraeten (Sint-Genesius-Rode), Jo Panneels (Dworp) and Stijn Ecker (Alsemberg); three friends who “are occupied with Lambic” since 10 years. In the beginning together with Jeroen Van Lier (Alsemberg) – who meanwhile unfortunaltly had to quit seeing his restaurant, De Smidse, is to busy – the friends decided that they also could produce an (Oude) Kriek. They got to work in Peloese’s cellar with freshly harvested “Schaarbeekse krieken” and fresh Lambic. They put this in a fermentation bottle, had to wait, bottle, wait again and so on. Until they – through wine maker and inhabitant of Dworp Mark Moustie (Domaine de la Douaix) – got their hands on wooden casks.
The guys already used about 100 liter Lambic at a time. And then Mark delivered a whole lot more casks at once. Getting Lambic suddenly became really expensive. And because of the large volume local Lambic brewers wouldn’t provide any more Lambic, because they of course couldn’t jeopordize their own production. Consequence: The only thing they could do is to stop, or start brewing Lambic themselves. Fortunately for us they made the second choice.
Luckily they could go to Jo Van Aert in his Belgoo brewery at Sint-Pieters-Leeuw, where the trio still can brew their lambic (independently!). Storage for their by now 75 casks (40x 400 liter and 35x 228 liter) they found in the Fabriekstraat at Ruisbroek. Hence the name “Lambiek Fabriek”.
At their own recipe
In hindsight the trio are happy that the Lambic brewers couldn’t or wouldn’t sell them more Lambic. After all meanwhile they are making their own lambic, even if it isn’t always that simple. Because yes, make your own Lambic for the first time can be very stressfull. If it fails, it fails of course. But well, it doesn’t matter now, because it worked.
Per batch they produce 2.400 liter, according to their own recipe. Where did they get it? Jozef: “No one told us how to make Lambic. So we dived in the books and we placed several recipes next to one another, compared them and with the good advice of Luc Pauwels and Ludwig Ingels, made our own recipe. And it was right on the money, because we are still using that recipe. The casks provide the rest of the taste.”
Jo: “We were partly lucky with these, because you can’t know the endresult will be nice by tasting the wort. After one night on the cooling ship the Lambic wort tastes like a cold sweet tea, that is no reference, because the bacteria didn’t have time to do their work. On the other hand: what you can check are all the parameters you can measure during the brewing process. And brew-technologically we knew it was right.”
How are they going to blend in Lambiek Fabriek? “Either way we taste each casks before blending”, accoring to Jozef and Jo. “We have a basic taste. Furthermore one cask tastes more intense than the other, than you have to decide which you will use and which you won’t use. If the taste isn’t quite right, than it is important to let it go on and evolve some more.”
“To make a good beer from a bad one, as they used to do, is something we can’t do”, clarifies Jozef. “The final product is of course always a small gamble, but you have a calculated guess to where the taste is heading. And in the long term we will grow in this too, of course. Autodidacts like us. (laughs) Anyway the hardest part is … the long wait. But it is especially the taste that counts. And the taste is certainly good, several persons already told us so.”
Curious for the taste of Brett-Elle? De Lambikstoemper already tasted it … 🙂
Where is it for sale?
Those who want to taste themselves, can do so on Sunday 1 October 2017 at the Belgoo open door day, from 11 h to 19 h at the Georges Wittouckstraat 61 at 1600 Sint-Pieters-Leeuw.
Furthermore you will be able to find Brett-Elle in an increasing number of shops, among others Streekproducten Centrum (Halle), Bierhalle Deconinck (Vichte), Bierhandel Dekoninck (Buzingen) and so on.
If in stock, you will also be able to buy your bottles at the gate of the Fabriekstraat on command and on fixed sale days. So certainly keep an eye on the Lambiek Fabriek’s Facebook page! The target prizes are: 3,40 euro for 37,5cl and 6,20 euro for 75cl bottles.
At Lambiek Fabriek they are firstly curious about the reactions on their Brett-Elle Oude Geuze. “Actually we are quite mad”, Jozef laughs. “Lambic is economically the worst beer that you can produce. You put in a whole lot of time and money, and only after a very long time you can see the yield. We hope to eventually make our income with this hobby that got out of hand. But this won’t be any time soon.”
“Anyway we want to increase our production each year”, Jo entrusts us. “In this and two years the depot in the Fabriekstraat will most probably be to small and we will have to move. But hey, luckily the Fabriekstraat is a really long street. (laughs) Making our business grow in a healthy way is our intention, the rest we will see.”
And no, produce batches purely for abroad, doesn’t interest the trio (yet). “If you are overproducing, you can consider it”, replies Jozef. “Local anchoring , however, is more important. Local people need to appreciate and consume your beer. Moreover you need to be able to follow with brewing. We will be without beer anyway if sales go well. And actually it now is still 2 months too young. So next time this will also be the case, since we almost automatically won’t be able to follow.”
Or how a hobby that got out of hand drastically can change your life. “Oh yes, the most important is and will be that we like our own Oude Geuze”, concludes Jo.
3 extra interesting facts
- Brett-Elle refers playfully to Brettanomyces and doesn’t hide the love of these men for women.
- The buck on the label doesn’t have a deeper meaning, but it is a creation of Jozef’s brother. The rest of the logo is the work of Papertree.be.
- The malt used comes from Dingemans. Concering the over year hops, no special variety was selected, but they always used hops with as little alpha acids as possible.