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Drinking with De Lambikstoempers

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Day of the Oude Geuze at the Streekproducten Centrum (Poststraat 3 A, 1500 Halle) by De Lambikstoempers.

De Lambikstoempers really know how to put on a great party. The beer club’s (it calls itself a ‘tasting group’) goal is “to support the beer culture in Belgium and more specifically in [their] region: the valley of the Senne and the Pajottenland”. Founded in  1999 it has its own beer and an award. The beer is a collaboration with Boon called the the Cuvée Lambikstoemper. The annual award is the Gouden Lambikstoemper, which goes to  to a business the club feel promotes and supports lambic in Belgium.

The Beer Idiots attended one of the main events put on by De Lambiksteompers, the 13th edition of Day of the Oude Geuze (Dag van de Oude Geuze), in their stomping grounds of Halle, over the weekend of 24-25 November at Streekproducten Centrum. On hand were lambics and gueuzes from 17 brewers. The highlight for me were the brews from Hanssens, from Dworp, of which the Oude Kriek Schaerbeekse was the standout. Dark, purplish-blue, this was full of traditional flavour. I have been on the hunt for kriek made from the famous Schaerbeek cherry, which is making a revival among brewers, some of whom are in the process of regrowing the species. In fact I went through the Hanssens range on offer at the event: Oudbeitje, Oude Geuze, and Oude Kriek. I skipped the Framboos. All were excellent.

A tasting round of Oud Beersel lambiek included 18-month, two-year and a three-year versions, along with a faro and a rhubarb flavoured lambic. We were surely in acid territory. Not to be daunted I had to drink every single Tilquin (Rebecq) on hand: Grosaille Rouge, Murem Oude Geuwem Oude Quetsche and Pinot Noir. I would have done the same for the three from Drie Fonteinen (Beersel), but I know them so well that I wanted to leave space in my acid tank for some of the other offerings I had not tried before.

The other breweries/blenders included Boon (Lembeek), Cantillon (Anderlecht), De Cam (Gooik), De Troch (Wambeek),  Girardin (Sint-Ulriks-Kapelle), Lambiek Fabriek (Ruisbroek), Lindemans (Vlezenbeek), Mort Subite (Kobbegem), Tilquin, and Timmermans (Itterbeek).

And then came time for the presentation of the Gouden Lambikstoemper award on the 25 November. The first Gouden Lambikstoemper in 2010 went to De Heeren van Liedekercke (Denderleeuw), the second went to Kaf’eko (Halle), the third to Boelekewis (Huizingen), the fourth to De Zwaan (Dworp), the fifth to ’t Antwaerps Bierhuyske (Antwerpen), the sixth, exceptionally, to the Streekproducten Centrum (Halle), the seventh to ’t Parlement (Halle). Last year, the award went to Foeders in Amsterdam. I have put all of the bars on my list to visit.

And the winner this year is  brewery and pub Den Herberg, Octave de Kerchove d’Exaerdestraat 16, 1501 Buizingen. As Johan Madalijns of De Lambikstoempers said, the award was given to the pub or traditional cafe, because of “their very attractive offer of Lambic beers and their home made lambic itself, the Oude Lambik Den Herberg. We took the long walk to the bar after interviewing the owners, the enterprising team of Bart Devillé and Ann Heremans, who opened the café in 2007 after she convinced him not to move the family to France to make wine, but to instead stay in Belgium and make beer. Good idea. They now have seven children to help out, one of whom is a brewer at Timmermans and helps out on the family’s concoctions.

In second place was De Kluis at Buizingen, while Spontane Goesting at Itterbeek, took third. Spontane Goesting started in the spring of 2018 after being brought back to life by its new owner David Fleurus, when café In de Linde closed its doors. According to the club Spontane Goesting has 23 beers on tap and an almost complete offer of Oude Geuze, Oude Kriek and “platte” Lambic.

De Gouden Lambikstoemper 2018 is an certificate with a poem made by Ludo Buggenhout. I asked Madalijns what was the meaning of that strange metal object in the club’s logo. It turns out it is a stoemper. In days of old, up to the 1950s, this metal tool used by drinkers to mash sugar cubes in their glass of lambic to make it less tart. 

The speech (Dutch)

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