Cantillon Brewery is the only traditional lambic brewery located within the city of Brussels, Belgium. Founded in 1900, today Cantillon operates both as a brewery and as a living museum, the Brussels Gueuze Museum (Musée bruxellois de la gueuze). Founded in 1900, Cantillon remains the world’s preeminent source of lambic — a sour style of beer, made by way of open-air fermentation, oak-aging, and meticulous blending. Traditional beer relies upon domesticated yeast in a closed system to maintain consistency; all the major variables are tightly controlled. With lambic production, fermentation occurs spontaneously, using whatever organisms are available in the air at the time. This results in a liquid that is typically tart, and somewhat unpredictable from batch to batch. To keep the flavor in line, master blenders combine one- to three-year-old vintages that have been aging in oak, before bottling the mixture in a process not unlike the Méthode Champenoise used to make Champagne. The bottles are then stored for a year, as the active yeasts inside continue the magical alchemy known as conditioning. On this Christmas Eve, Peaks & Pints offers tastes of three different Cantillon bottles in an in-house flight we’re calling, Peaks and Pints Cantillon Flight: Christmas Eve.
Peaks and Pints Cantillon Flight: Christmas Eve
Cantillon Gueuze is the quintessential Belgian beer – a perfect blend of 1-, 2-, and 3-year-old lambics. Tart and slightly acidic, Cantillon Gueuze is the real champagne of beers. It is fermented only with wild airborne yeasts from the Senne Valley in Brussels and is aged in centuries-old oak casks. It also certified organic in Belgium.
Bottled August 2023, Fou’ Foune is a blend of lambics aged 18 to 20 months and condition on Bergeron apricots with the initial funky sweetness leading to a tart bitter finish.
This beer by Cantillon is not a traditional gueuze as it is made from un-blended 2-year-old lambic (spontaneously fermented), rather than from a blend of older and younger lambics. It is also dry hopped in the cask for three weeks with Hallertau hops. The brewmaster and blender Jean Van Roy originally produced this beer in 2004 to honor his hometown’s football club, Brussels Union St. Gilles, for their Division III championship. Sadly, St. Gilles’ performance got worse so he could not, in good conscience, dedicate the beer to “Champions.” Thus, the name was downgraded from Cuvee Saint-Gilloise (Champions) to the less grandiose “Cuvée Saint-Gilloise”.