Tuesday, May 19, 2015

04/07 - 04/11 - Tour de Belgium, Part 3 of 3


Day 4, a foggy morning. I left Knokke early in the morning and on my way to the outskirts of Brussels I made a short stop at Brewery Huyghe. First activities of brewing beer are known from the year 1654, but their most-known product, the famous "Delirium Tremens", was born on December 26th 1988. The particular character and the unique taste of "Delirium Tremens" result from the use of three different kinds of yeast. Its very original packing, which resembles cologne ceramics, and the colorful label, contribute to its success, the success of the pink elephant.

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Brewery Huyghe aka the birthplace of Delirium Tremens

Exactly at 9 am I arrived at Brasserie Cantillon, just in that moment when they opened their doors for the visitors. The brewery was founded in 1900 by Paul Cantillon, whose father was a brewer as well, and his wife, Marie Troch. As of 2011, the owner is Jean-Pierre van Roy, fourth-generation brewer at Cantillon which was one of more than one hundred operating breweries in Brussels at its foundation, and was the only one to remain operational through the 2000s. In the traditional lambic style, beers, with a mash bill of 2/3 malted barley and 1/3 unmalted wheat, are spontaneously fermented in open topped attic mounted vats, aged in oak or chestnut, blended (from different batches and ages), bottled, and then bottle conditioned for a year. Half of the brewery's production is gueuze; once a year a batch of kriek is made. For fruit-flavored beers, empty casks are filled with various fruits and macerated for three months to dissolve the fruits; young lambic is added to supply sugar for fermentation.

Due to the fact that the spontanuous fermentation and cooling of the wort takes place in an open vessel at atmospheric conditions, Cantillon needs colder weather. That's the reason why the brewing season ends in the beginning of April, therefore there was no brewing done during my visit. The visit itself is a self-guided tour after a getting a brief summary from a guy of the staff.

After the tour I'd the chance to try their classic Lambic and the Geuze, the Geuze was really tasty. Unfortunately their stock was plundered but I luckily had the chance to buy some of the Geuze and also of the Kriek. I'm sure that both of them will go well with the right cigar...

Brasserie Cantillon

Cantillon storage cellar

Cantillon storage cellar

Cantillon Lambic

Cantillon Geuze

On my way through Brussels to Westmalle I came across the Church of Our Lady of Laeken within the city limits of Brussels and made a quick photo stop... ;-)

Church of Our Lady of Laeken in Brussels

Church of Our Lady of Laeken in Brussels

The Trappist Abbey of Westmalle or Abdij van Onze-Lieve-Vrouw van het Heilig Hart (Abbey of Our Lady of the Sacred heart), which belongs to the Cistercians of Strict Observance, is located in Westmalle (Malle), in the Campine region of the province of Antwerp (Flanders, Belgium). The abbey was founded in 1794, but the community was not elevated to the rank of Trappist abbey until 22 April 1836. The abbey is famous for its spiritual life and its brewery, which is one of few Trappist beer breweries in the world. The three pillars of life in the Trappist monastery are a life of prayer, life in a community, and a life of work. In this case this place looks like a big commercial brewery with an attached monastery but that's maybe only my personal impression.

That's enough for the history. It's one of my last stops. Time for some beer. And a cigar with my friend Michel who came from Amsterdam to meet here with me at the Westmalle Cafe. While waiting for him - as a I arrived a bit sooner that expected - I smoked an exceptional Upmann No. 2 from 1996 which I paired with a Westmalle Dubbel. The sun was shining again and it's a really nice day. I just fnished this first cigar when Michel arrived and he offered me a Punch DC from 2000. Being not a big Punch fan I really liked this stick which already had a good portion of the typical vintage flavor. For the drink I chose the "house recommendation" half/half, which means a glass with half Dubbel and half Tripel for the first half of the cigar. Very tasty! For the second half I took a pure Tripel which was a perfect counterpart for the cigar which got a bit stronger during the second half.

Abbey Westmalle

Abbey Westmalle

Westmalle Dubbel and Upmann No. 2 from 1996

Westmalle Half/Half and Punch Double Corona from 2000 courtesy of Michel

Michel firing up

Punch Double Corona and Westmalle Tripel

While talking about this and that Michel offered to go with me to the LCdH in Antwerp and imho it's a great decision. This is a wonderful casa that you should've seen. Nice wooden interior and of course a really nice selection of cigars and spirits. We enjoyed a Quai d'Orsay Imperiales, another overlooked cigar. Thanks for taking me to this place which's really worth the visit.

LCdH Antwerp

LCdH Antwerp

Quai d'Orsay Imperiales at LCdH Antwerp

Antwerp

Antwerp

The night itself I spent in a guesthouse close to Westmalle Cafe and after a nightcap consisting of another half/half and an El Rey del Mundo Petit Compana ER France 2009 Michel dropped me there. B&B Noodrust is a place that I can highly recommend if you are looking for something to stay the night (or a few days) in that area. A very friendly host, a nice room for a fair price, a very good breakfast.

B&B Noodrust

B&B Noodrust

The last pit stop on my Tour de Belgium before the long ride home: Achelse Kluis. The last chance to pick up some of the beers that I've probably missed before as the shop has a wide range of beers. But I was fully packed and just had some space left to squeeze in some of the Imperial sized bottles of the blond and bruin of this Trappist brewery.

Conclusion of this trip: it's a long tour but it's been definitely a very interesting trip...

Abbey Achelse Kluis

Abbey Achelse Kluis

Abbey Achelse Kluis

Here you can find the other reports of that trip:

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