Brussels & Lambicland
By Joe Stange | Tim Webb & Chris Pollard
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Around Brussels in 80 Beers
It’s been six years since this labour of love first appeared on bookshelves in Brussels, Britain, Boston and beyond. We sold all 4,000 copies and grew fat on the immense profits.
Travel writers aim to be useful by reporting on the lay of the land. Problem is, the land won’t sit still. Months go by and a few places close their doors. A few new ones appear. One year a classic institution shuts, apparently for good. Two years later it reopens with new owners.
Half of the 80 locations listed here – cafés, bars, shops, restaurants, museums, theatres and hostels – are new to this title. Where we struggled to find ones worthy of the first edition, the challenge this time around was narrowing them down without discarding excellence. So I have cheated and added a section – More to Explore – that outlines another 30 or so worth attention…
Lambic brewing involves making a wheat beer by a traditional brewing method but then fermenting it as if it were a wine.
Where regular beers have yeast added to them to provoke fermentation, lambics are seeded with wild yeast that comes partly from the atmosphere and partly from the oak casks into which they are decanted after brewing. Approach them as beers and you may not get there. Start by thinking Champagne or oak-aged ciders and you might.
These are the beers that are blended to make gueuze, or that have whole cherries steeped in them for several months to make authentic cherry beer, or kriek – though it is the stones that add the essential almond edge.
Unsurprisingly, especially given that this is Belgium, from the unique nature of the beers stems a whole social eco-system – a culture of cafés and customs, oddly matched dishes and preserved pastimes. LambicLand captures it all but keeps to its fact-packed, user friendly format to encourage exploration, even by beer explorers who are novice travellers.
Around Brussels in 80 Beers
Joe Stange is a freelance journalist whose words and photos have appeared among others in the New York Times, All About Beer, and Draft Magazine, where he is an editor. He began as an Associated Press newsman and eventually graduated to globetrotting, winding up in exotic places like Costa Rica, Berlin and Uccle. He co-author with Tim Webb of Good Beer Guide Belgium and nurses a fetishistic attraction to Brussels. His two children can discuss beer in four languages, so far.
Tim Webb enjoys worldwide renown as the author of seven editions of Good Beer Guide Belgium (CAMRA Books) since 1992 and more recently co-author with Stephen Beaumont of The World Atlas of Beer. He co-wrote and edited the first edition of LambicLand, the book that led to the formation of Cogan & Mater in 2004 and has played the same role in its second edition. Tim lives in Bristol and rides a bicycle.
Chris Pollard has been visiting Payottenland since the late 1990s and carried out most of the research into the cafés and tourist attractions in the area, along with co-author Siobhan McGinn, with whom he also co-writes Around Bruges in 80 Beers and runs Podge’s Belgian Beer Tours podgebeer.co.uk a specialist tour company. They live in Chelmsford.