Harvest is just around the bend, and Flemish Brabant’s forests are slowly turning shades of burgundy, orange, and gold – beckoning you to lace up those walking shoes and explore beyond Brussels borders. But did you know that October is also Lambic Month? That’s just a hop, skip, and a jump away! A staple of Pajottenland’s heritage, this slightly tangy, refreshing, and wholly unique draught has made an impressive comeback. Read on for the lambic scoop and what Flemish Brabant has to offer in autumn.
1. Yeast – it’s not just for bread
Flemish Brabant is where it’s at: marshland, ironstone hills, heathland, fields, and farmland. Still, one of its most peculiar features is unseen. Traditionally, from Michaelmas to St George’s Day, i.e. September through May, the Zenne River Valley is saturated with wild strains of Brettanomyces Bruxellensis and Brettanomyces Lambicus yeasts. Tiny but mighty, they kickstart the spontaneous fermentation that leads to… lambic!
Lambic and geuze are the pride of the Pajottenland. Cycling the Lambic-Geuze Route on a Friday or Saturday? Then, you’ve got to make a pitstop at the lambik-O-droom for a refreshing pick-me-up. It’s also a great spot to take the kids and hang out on the garden terrace or play a game of pétanque.
Lambic, geuze, and kriek also pair beautifully with various dishes. And during Lambic Month, you can even learn to cook with it at a cooking with lambic workshop. And… while yeast isn’t just for bread, it turns out that it’s a great sourdough starter! Rumour has it that an Oud Beersel will do the trick.
2. Stepstone into the Pajottenland countryside
Lambic on its own? With kids in tow or a partner non-plussed to spend the day delving into the ‘dull’ mysteries of brewing and blending might not be enough incentive. Fortunately, there’s more to this lambiclicious story.
Lambic is a great stepstone. The Wild Yeast Walk, for instance, blends nature, history and local delicacies. This 13.3 km jaunt includes English landscaped gardens, Flemish draft horses, Gaasbeek Castle Park, and… the Krijmerie van Gaasbeek. Their ice cream is the best I’ve had in Belgium, hands-down! Plus, it’s a one-stop shop for all kinds of other local Pajottenland local delicacies.
During Lambic Month, there’s also a host of lambic-related activities. Lambic breweries and blenderies open their doors with guided tours and tastings. Oud Beersel (EN), Boon (EN), Het Boerenerf, brewery 3 Fonteinen, Lambiek Fabriek etc. are eager to showcase their history and products. What else? Learn how to blend geuze, go on a historical tour about Schaarbeek’s renowned kriek, and more!
3. Een Boon(tje) voor jou
Learning Flemish? That includes head-scratchingly quirky expressions like, ‘Ik heb een boontje voor jou’. Literally, that’s ‘I’ve got a bean for you’… Long story short, that just means you really like someone.
But after a tour of the Boon Brewery, I’ve got to say, I’ve got a boontje for Boon. From its humble 1975 start to now – Boon is a pioneer of the lambic scene. Frank Boon helped rekindle the dying embers of the lambic trade. Now, run by his two sons, this family business has gone from one room with a vat and a coolship to a business producing 50,000 L daily.
Book your tour and dive into the history and mechanics of this heritage drink. Discover how they’ve greened their process and end with a taste of Oud Geuze, Mariage Parfait, and Kriek.
4. Keeping the tradition alive
The once-dying lambic craft has made a serendipitous comeback. Take a look at Belgium’s younger generations, and you’ll see. They’re all about preserving their artisanal heritage. And there’s no better representative of young blood keeping the lambic tradition alive than Boerenerf Eylenbosch.
A small-scale, open-hearted operation, Boerenerf (literally: farm heritage) has been around since the turn of the 19th century. Sadly, in 1965, the brewing stopped. Now, Senne Eylenbosch, passionate about geuze and organic farming, has brought it back to life.
This small-scale blendery uses unique, organic ingredients from rhubarb and cassis to beets to make one-of-a-kind geuze, lambic, cider, and even kombucha! It’s the perfect spot to hang out on the terrace, drink in the heady, sweet country air, enjoy a fresh scoop of ice cream or throw back one of their unbeatable drinks.
5. Lambic for life
Are you a lambic and geuze believer? Or have you yet to discover this Flemish Brabant gem? Whatever the case, now you know there’s plenty of lambic-themed fun for experts and the uninitiated. So, get crackin’ because the season to try is now!