By Tim Webb
The lambic brewing in Brussels and Payottenland is a tradition unique to the area and produce a range of draught and bottled beers that stand so far outside the mainstream that this book, the comprehensive guide to the beers, brewers, blenders, bars and bus routes of the area, is subtitled, “A journey round the most unusual beers in the world”.
Current edition: 2nd Edition 2010
Published by: Cogan & Mater
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. He 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.
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.