Established in 1900, this brewery focuses very much on its heritage and producing beers in the same way they always have done – including spontaneous fermentation of their beers.
We wandered over from our apartment near the Bourse along a main road, before turning into what appeared to be a residential area – it didn’t seem an obvious location for a brewery! But then we spotted it; a large building with a huge wooden door and no hint of what was beyond. Could we go in? Was it open? We didn’t know, so we just took the plunge and opened the door.
What we found was a very welcoming place indeed – a working brewery with a bar right at the front and a very jovial chap welcoming us in and introducing to how the tour would run. Costing just €7 – which includes two beers at the end – they offer a self-guided tour around their premises. Starting at the front desk (which also sells beers to take away and some merch), you’re given an in-depth booklet with numbered sections to correspond to the parts of the brewery.
And it truly is a working brewery – there’s staff milling around doing their day-to-day jobs, spaces chock full of brewing equipment and lots and lots of bottles fermenting away. I can’t imagine any breweries in the UK allowing anything similar!
They say pictures speak a thousand words, so here’s just a few of inside the brewery.
After we’d finished wandering around, we headed to the bar. We were each given a glass of their gueuze (aged for one year, rather than the mixture of one, two and three year-old drinks that’s in their standard brew) and told to return with our glasses for another. Lambic beers are generally not my thing, but I did find myself enjoying it. I think it’d be hard not to in such a fantastic venue. I followed this with the Kriek while Ross went for the Rose de Gambrinus (same as the Kriek but made with raspberries instead of cherries), before heading off.
Our visit to the Cantillon Brewery was an all-round excellent experience. It really makes you appreciate the beer that much more when you can get a feel for the effort that goes into it and how much dedication the brewers put into it. The guidebook you receive gives some hint to the challenges they face and their tenacity in keeping the brewery going during periods when lambic fell out of favour. Times are much better for Cantillon nowadays but they face a new challenge; the struggle to keep up with demand, especially as moving and expanding are out of the question.
The brewery is open Monday to Friday 9am-5pm and Saturday 10am-5pm – with last entrance at 4pm.