As we made our way to Belgium, I asked the geekiest of my beer geek friends what breweries to visit.  There was a resounding answer: “Cantillon.”  In fact, one of my friends said, “If you don’t go to Cantillon, I will personally kick you in the nuts.”

In the heart of Brussels, lies Cantillon brewery.  In a part of town where you’re more likely to find immigrant Muslim communities and enough road construction to make driving up on the place nigh impossible, the Cantillon family has been producing Lambic there since 1900.  Today, it is done almost exactly as it was at the turn of last century.

Now, in fact, a museum, stepping into the brewery is like stepping back in time.  And because Lambic production involves spontaneous fermentation—where the unfermented beer is left in open vessels to allow it to be exposed to wild yeast and bacteria—the atmosphere between the walls, inside the walls, and even the walls themselves are contributors in the innoculation of the wort.

This is true terroir in beer, people.   And that is not a silly trifle.  This is the ONLY spot on the earth where the beer can taste this way, act this way and evolve this way.  Move the brewery two blocks away, and all will change.

Jean Van Roy, myself and a shit-ton of spiders

We were fortunate to meet brewmaster Jean Van Roy (the son-in-law of the last Cantillon) at a beer event at Birrificio Baladin in Piedmont the previous month.  When I mentioned we would be in Belgium at the end of June, he told us to contact him.  Four weeks later, we opened the front door to the brewery and stepped back in time.  And when I left the brewery later that day, my perceptions on beer had changed.  This is a family doing things the traditional way.  More hours, more heartache, less certainty.  But with a product so built on artisan craftsmanship that the mere mention of the word “shortcut” will get you strung up in a spider web for dinner.  In fact, I will be forever haunted by a spider I saw there that was the size of a baby’s fist.

Jean Van Roy is the man.  But Cantillon Brewery is an entity all its own…devoid of man’s influence.

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29 Responses to “Cantillon: Where Wild Yeasts & Spider Webs Reign”

  1. Wine Lover says:

    Cantillon: Where Wild Yeasts & Spider Webs Reign: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6LymuV-kwWs As we made our way to Belg… http://bit.ly/pvgb4I

  2. Cantillon: Where Wild Yeasts & Spider Webs Reign http://bit.ly/rh5wEt (latest from @grapesandgrains)

  3. John Fleury says:

    RT @grapesandgrains: Cantillon: Where Wild Yeasts & Spider Webs Reign http://t.co/3ipZyUN

  4. Cheers! RT @SeriousDrinks: Cantillon: Where Wild Yeasts & Spider Webs Reign http://bit.ly/rh5wEt (latest from @grapesandgrains)

  5. Cheers! RT @SeriousDrinks: Cantillon: Where Wild Yeasts & Spider Webs Reign http://bit.ly/rh5wEt (latest from @grapesandgrains)

  6. Cantillon: Where Wild Yeasts & Spider Webs Reign http://bit.ly/rh5wEt (latest from @grapesandgrains)

  7. http://t.co/0r1fYTl @grapesandgrains At 2:48 my cat inexplicably appears at Cantillon… http://t.co/azmguim

  8. I knew it! RT @BeyondtheQuail: http://t.co/0r1fYTl @grapesandgrains At 2:48 my cat inexplicably appears at Cantillon… http://t.co/azmguim

  9. Cheers! RT @SeriousDrinks: Cantillon: Where Wild Yeasts & Spider Webs Reign http://bit.ly/rh5wEt (latest from @grapesandgrains)

  10. Timmyp says:

    It's a remarkable sight in person. A must visit. RT @Buffalo_Theory Cantillon: Where Wild Yeasts & Spider Webs Reign http://t.co/3ipZyUN

  11. Matt Becker says:

    http://t.co/RJ3HUKj – great short video on one of my favorite breweries, Cantillon

  12. NEW VIDEO! We go deep into the bowels of #Cantillon & discover spiders the size of walnuts & endless barrels of Lambic: http://t.co/K1exzTE

  13. Tks Peter! RT @SimplyBeer: Awesome piece on a beer geeks mecca! @grapesandgrains personal tour of Cantillon! http://bit.ly/njJjjc #jealous

  14. jaime smith says:

    NEW VIDEO! We go deep into the bowels of #Cantillon & discover spiders the size of walnuts & endless barrels of Lambic: http://t.co/K1exzTE

  15. And if youre tired of looking at #Riesling pics, move on to #beer! OUR LATEST VIDEO goes into the bowels of #Cantillon: http://t.co/K1exzTE

  16. Amazing! Start the car for Zwanze Day. RT @grapesandgrains: OUR LATEST VIDEO goes into the bowels of #Cantillon: http://bit.ly/qfJ6NB

  17. Clay Thomas says:

    And if youre tired of looking at #Riesling pics, move on to #beer! OUR LATEST VIDEO goes into the bowels of #Cantillon: http://t.co/K1exzTE

  18. YES RT @fledglingbrewer: Amazing! Start the car for Zwanze Day. RT @grapesandgrains: OUR LATEST VIDEO of #Cantillon: http://bit.ly/qfJ6NB

  19. terroirNY says:

    VIDEO. Cantillon: Where Wild Yeasts & Spider Webs Reign by our very own @grapesandgrains http://t.co/K1exzTE

  20. Geuze saves RT @terroirNY: VIDEO. Cantillon: Where Wild Yeasts & Spider Webs Reign by our very own @grapesandgrains http://t.co/K1exzTE

  21. Kelvin says:

    VIDEO. Cantillon: Where Wild Yeasts & Spider Webs Reign by our very own @grapesandgrains http://t.co/K1exzTE

  22. Cantillon: Where Wild Yeasts & Spider Webs Reign…http://t.co/n2RuesL

  23. Steve Lamond says:

    Cantillon: Where Wild Yeasts & Spider Webs Reign…http://t.co/n2RuesL

  24. David Palmer says:

    Authentic process and product over profit: I love this guy. Great video you two.

  25. @RyanKinder @tsmith13 Here is that video I was telling you about from @grapesandgrains' visit to Cantillon in Belgium. http://t.co/9hcCXiX

  26. Cheers! RT @fledglingbrewer: @RyanKinder @tsmith13 video I was telling you bout from @grapesandgrains visit to Cantillon http://t.co/Y71yGTS

  27. […] learning over the past few months about the almost magic nature of this brewery. First there was a great video from David Flaherty of the blog Grapes and Grains, who visited Cantillon and its revered brewer, Jean Van Roy, earlier this year. Then there was […]

  28. @lennthompson @1WineDude @travessia True. And that's what makes Lambics so damn special: http://t.co/ePAuSrqm

  29. @JoePostma My droid likey url shorteners….but I cracked it. The Cantillon video I mentioned (at last): http://t.co/ePAuSrqm #beer

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