Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Gueuzerie Tilquin

(Photo, above: Pierre Tilquin pouring a sample of
lambic in the blendery.)

This Saturday and Sunday, May 28-29, Belgium's first new
lambic blendery in nearly 15 years will open its doors to the public
for the first time, from 10 am-6 pm. Yes, sour beer lovers,
Gueuzerie Tilquin has arrived, and is ready to show off its

The mastermind and driving force behind the project is
Pierre Tilqiun, 37, who was educated as a bioengineer.
Tilquin holds a Ph.D. in statistics and genetics.

The following Friday, June 3, will be the official debut of Oude
Gueuze Tilquin a l'Ancienne, in 37.5 and 75 cl bottles and on draft.

The event will happen at both locations of Moeder Lambic in
Brussels, as well as Delirium Taphouse, starting at 4 pm (16.00)
local time. Delirium Cafe, the bar with 2,000 beers located below
the Taphouse, will have bottles on offer beginning at 10 am for
those who are too thirsty to wait till late afternoon, and Pierre
will be at on hand at the Taphouse at 10 PM (22.00) to present his
Oude Gueuze and answer questions.

I really wish I was in Belgium next weekend . And this one too.

Tom Peters of Monk's cafe in Belgium plans to join the fun,
albeit a continent away. Peters says he will offer a sneak
preview with a very limited number of bottles of the Oude
Gueuze at Monk's. He will crack the first bottle at
12:01 PM that same day, which is also opening day of
Philly Beer Week 2011.

(Photo, above: Tom Peters likes his lambic in large
quantities, as shown in this photo at Moeder Lambic
Fontainas in March.)

I imagine Monk's might get a bit busy that day.

If I was in Belgium, I know where I would be!

Also, this weekend is the Weekend of Spontaneous
Fermentation in Buggenhout, arguably Belgium's top
lambic beer fest. I attended in 2008 and 2010, and look
forward to getting back in the future.

(Photo, above: inside the hall at the Weekend of
Spontaneous Fermentation Beer festival.)

This is the 20th Anniversary of the event. The beer
appreciation club that organizes the fest,
De Opstalse Bierpallieters, asked Brouwerij Girardin
to produce a special Oude Gueuze for them, and indeed
they did.

I'm fortunate to have tasted one a couple of weeks
ago, and it was very good. Only 1400 bottles were filled.
It will debut and be available at the event.
See: Weekend

I visited Gueuzerie Tilquin on May 29, 2010.

Here's an article that first appeared in Celebrator Beer News
last August:

Belgium has a new gueuze blendery, and it’s in Wallonia.

Lambic and gueuze beers, those produced in the Payottenland, an area to the south and west of Brussels, have been gaining in popularity and respect for a number of years now. Making traditional lambic brews, created by spontaneous fermentation and aged in oak barrels, is a tough business, requiring lots of initial investment and patience, as the production process can take years. Lambics of various ages are blended to make gueuze.

(Photo, above: Pierre Tilquin in his blendery.)

Fortunately for the sour beer lovers of the world, there are young Belgian beer lovers dedicated to the survival and promotion of such brews. Pierre Tilquin is one of them. He and a small group of investors have started the first new gueuze blendery in “The Beer Country” since Geuzestekerij De Cam opened in 1997.

Gueuzerie Tilquin is also the only lambic blendery in Wallonia. However, Flanders is barely a couple of football fields away.

“We opened in March 2009,” Pierre told me during my visit to the blendery on May 29th. “We have 222 barrels, all in the 400 liter size, and all are full now,” he added. “So that’s 888 hectos of lambic on barrel.”

Opening a new blendery is a very big deal, as the initial investment in time and money is huge, with little financial return until the first bottle of Oude Gueuze is sold, years later. To take on such a venture requires someone with a lot of vision, patience and determination.

“I worked at with Armand (Debelder) at 3 Fonteinen for six months, and at Cantillon for six months as well,” Pierre told me. “I learned a lot from these two great blenders, and got different perspectives from each. It was very valuable experience. My idea is to take the best of both worlds,” he added.

He continued: “As I live in Brussels, I did want to open a blendery there. But rents are very high, and it was impossible to find a suitable space at a reasonable price. Here in Bierghes-Rebecq, we are only about 15 minutes driving from Lembeek, where Brouwerij Boon is, and Flanders is about 200 meters away.”

Pierre also mentioned the government helps businesses such as his in Wallonia, whereas such subsidies are rarely seen in Flanders. Adding to that, he said “We have a great deal of time and money already invested here. All the barrels are from French wineries; 150 of them, with the silver bands, come from the St. Emilion and Medoc regions, and cost us 70 Euros each. The other 72, with the black bands, come from the Hermitage region, and we paid 60 Euros each for them.” Pierre added that he cleaned the barrels with hot water until no color remained in them.

“I have backing and help from Gregory Verhelst of Brasserie La Rulles, and other investors. We have a complete business plan. I will work at the blendery full time, and we may have another person working part time as well in the future,” Pierre commented.

“Of course you know all lambic producers have their own symbol, which you can see painted on their barrels. I’m still working on mine, as well as a website,” Pierre remarked.

When will the sour beer lovers of the world be able to taste that first Gueuzerie Tilquin beer, you ask? “We will release our first gueuze, which will likely be called Oude Gueuze Tilquin à l'Ancienne, in May or June, 2011. It will be a blend of one and two year-old lambics,” Pierre told me. “I’d like to wait till 2012 and do a 1, 2, and 3 year old Oude Gueuze, but we need some return on our investment, and cannot wait until then. In 2012, we will have a three year old lambic in the blend,” he added.

“My plan is to sell 500 hl of blended lambics and Oude Gueuze per year. For that you need about 900 hl of barrel capacity, which we have. We buy wort from Boon, Cantillon, Girardin, and Lindemans, and put them in our barrels here. But I won’t sell any straight, unblended lambic; there’s no reason to when you could buy that right from the breweries. I’ll sell only some blended lambics on draft at special places like Moeder Lambic and Delirium Cafe in Brussels, and of course 37.5 cl and 75 cl corked bottles of Oude Gueuze. I even have some ideas for fruit beers for the future, but it won’t be Kriek or Framboise, as these are already common. I want to do something different.”

Pierre continued: “As to Cantillon lambic, I will only use it in my blends as a three year-old. In fact, I’m the first and only gueuze blender that Cantillon will sell their wort to. I’ll probably use Boon as a one year-old, and Girardin and Lindemans as one, two, or three year old lambics.”

Ah, and the taste, you ask. We first sampled an interesting “March” beer from Boon which was just a few months old. It was an interesting brew; a lightly sour beer of 8 degrees plato and about 3% abv that Pierre told me he would used to lower the alcohol in his Oude Gueuze. “My goal is a gueuze of about 5 to 6% abv. I don’t want it to be higher than that. This March beer is what the farm workers would have drunk in the fields years ago. Refreshing, but not too alcoholic,” Pierre said.

Moving up the ladder a bit, we then tasted a 14 month old lambic from Lindemans that was very nice. It was getting its funk on, and was already a very pleasing, tart beer. We then tasted a Boon of the same age, which was equally as good. Having tasted lambics right from the barrels at all the lambic breweries and blenderies in the Payottenland (except the Inbev plant) I was very impressed.

Pierre told me that the temperature inside the blendery is controlled so that it won’t go higher than 19 C (66 F) in summer. He added, “What you see here is only the beginning. I still have to build a warm room for conditioning the beers, and also a room for the bottling machine.”

I can’t wait till next summer arrives and the first Gueuzerie Tilquin Oude Gueuze is ready to drink! I think a lot of beer lovers are likely to feel the same. Sante, Pierre, and see you next year. (end of last year's article.)

Note that the bottling line has been installed, obviously.

(Photo, above: Pierre Tilquin and Brian Ewing,
at Moeder Lambic Fontainas in March.

Brian Ewing and 12 Percent Imports will import Oude
Gueuze Tilquin a l'Ancienne to the U.S.A.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

"Ladies in the House" Belgium's female brewers in Taps Magazine

Here's some love for the ladies.

I have a 1,200 word article about several of Belgium's female
brewers in the Spring issue of Taps: The Beer Magazine.

Covered are Anne De Ryck, brewmaster of Brouwerij de Ryck in
Herzele, East Flanders, and her daughter, Mieke van Melkebeke.
Mieke shares brewing duties as well as handling sales and marketing.
De Ryck's Arend Tripel is avaiable stateside.

(Photo, above: Mieke van Melkebeke and Anne de Ryck,
Brouwerij de Ryck.)

Annick ("Nicki") Desplenter of Gent's Stadsbrouwerij Gruut is also
featured, as is Natalie Eloir of Brasserie de la Abbaye de Rocs in
Hainaut Province, Wallonia.

(Photo, above: Nicki Desplenter, Gent's Stadsbrouwerij Gruut.)

Belgium's newest female brewer, Anne-Cathérine Dilewyns,
also has a brand new brewery to showcase her beers.
Brouwerij Dilewyns first brewed in March, and their first open
house will be Saturday, May 21st.

(Photo, above: Anne-Cathérine Dilewyns,
Brouwerij Dilewyns.)

The Dilewyns brews are labeled Vicaris and will be imported into
the U.S. by Vanberg and Dewulf. See here for more info.

Copies of Taps can be purchased at Barnes and Noble
and Borders stores as well as on the website

(Photo, above: Natalie Eloir, Brasserie de la
Abbaye de Rocs.)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Cask Ale fest at Pratt Street Alehouse this Saturday

(Photo, above: Steve Jones, Brewmaster, Pratt Street Alehouse.
Yeah, I know his t-shirt says Stillwater Artisanal..
it was a collaboration day....for beer and t-shirts.)

Pratt Street Alehouse (Oliver's beers) will hold it's
Chesapeake Real Ale fest this Saturday.

Well, it's not Belgian beer, but there are some Belgian-inspired
beauties on the list, nonetheless.

Not to mention that fact that Pratt Street Alehouse brewmaster
Steve Jones will have some goodies to show off on his home turf.

(Photo, above: Steve Jones pulling a cask pint behind
the bar at Pratt Street Alehouse.)

Here are the details:

May 14th 1-6, Noon for VIP

$40 Unlimited Sampling

$60 VIP, Noon entry, food tickets, Free T-Shirt

Great Food Options
Rain or Shine
Live Music All Day – Black Falls (Blues), Caffeine (Acoustic Mix)

See: Real Ale for ticket info.

Pratt Street Ale House
206 W. Pratt St., Baltimore, Md. 21201

Cask line Up:

Stone Ruination IPA

Evolution lot 6 double IPA + pin bacon porter (!)

Oskar Blues Dales Pale Ale dry hopped cascade

Mamas Little Yella Pils w/ rosehips

Old Chub w/ coconut

Weyerbacher Blanche

Flying Fish Exit 4 w/ centennial & citra (hopefully one more also)

Brewer's Art Resurrection

Stillwater/Brewer's Art Debutante

Stillwater beaujolais cask Existent (for VIP hour)

Troegs Javahead Stout

Great Divide Yeti

Heavy Seas Loose cannon Red, White & Birch (red oak/white oak/birch)

Stoudts Heifer-in-wheat w/ kumquat

Yards Saison

The Raven Lager

Flying Dog Gonzo on oak

Single hop Imperial IPA

Breckenridge x 2

White Marsh 1 or 2

Brewer's Alley

DuClaw 2010 Devil's Milk aged in Jack Daniels Whiskey Barrel

Dog Java stout with French oak

Oliver’s Hot Monkey Love batch #2 drawn directly from oak barrel (aged 10 months)

Stillwater Channel Crossing #4 dry hopped w/ tettnanger beaujolais cask

"Draft Punk" w/ Juniper & honey (for VIP hour)

Pagan Porter with vanilla

BrewDog paradox Isle of Arran

OK, I'm back. Here's how I see it...

Three Stillwater casks and a whole lot or other goodies.
I'm thinking this is going to be a fun day.
Come on out and join us and have a great time.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Vanberg and Dewulf tasting in D.C.

(Photo, above: from left, Wendy Littlefield, Don Feinberg
and Greg Engert.)

On this past Monday night, I attended a tasting at Birch
and Barley in Washington, D.C.

Belgian beer importers Don Feinberg and Wendy Littlefield of
Vanberg and Dewulf spoke about how they got into the importing
biz and about many of the great beers they bring into the U.S.

Birch and Barley/Church Key Beer Director Greg Engert spoke
about the various food pairings crafted by he and Executive
Chef Kyle Bailey.

(Photo, above: Executive Chef Kyle Bailey and
Wendy Littlefield.)

Highlights included a 2 year old keg of Lambrucha (yum, is incredible how well this 3.5% abv brew
had aged) as well as Dupont's 2011 Avril and several other
brews, including Scaldis (Bush) de Nuits from Brasserie
Dubuisson, a 13% abv treat.

Don and Wendy plan on doing many more tasting events across
the U.S.A. in 2011 and 2012, as they began importing Belgian
beer in 1982. Cheers!