When it comes to beer, Cantillon is the holy grail, and for lovers of wine, there is no substitute. In June 2018, I finally made my pilgrimage to Brussels and visited this 1900-founded Lambic brewery.

Lambics, also referred to as sour beers, initially pulled me in for their vinous qualities and unusual persistent finish. I oftentimes find a flinty reductive quality that calls to mind White Burgundy. There is also driving intensity and crazy levels of concentration that conclude with unparalleled freshness. Cantillon spontaneously ferments their lambics with natural yeasts, made with about 35% wheat, 65% malted barley, and relatively small amounts of aged hops.

In the 1950s, there were hundreds of Lambic brewers within this Pajottenland region of Belgium, but only a few remain. Production is extremely labor-intensive, and other brewers didn't have the financial incentive to continue this tradition. Changing gears into beer territory isn't always easy, but once you taste the magic from this fabled Lambic producer, you will become a believer!

 
HIGHLIGHTS
 
Bruocsella can be considered the missing link between the worlds of wine and beer. Since there is no secondary fermentation in the bottle, this is a flat, non-sparkling beer. It matures for three years in oakwood barrels and is selected based on its exceptional color, taste, and flavor. 

Gambrinus uses local raspberries, the slightly sour component of the Lambic melding with the pristine raspberry fruit. This is a nice counterpoint to the Kriek.

Gueuze is a blend of three vintages of beer from the barrel. The youngest vintage, still containing some sweetness, offers the necessary sugars to complete fermentation in the bottle, resulting in a totally dry beer. The oldest vintage brings those more refined flavors that have developed while aging in barrel.

Kriek, which uses local Schaerbeekse sour cherries, will take you back in one sip to the first time you had a bite of cherry pie as a child, without the preservatives and confectionery qualities. The cherries' raw qualities hold strong in the glass.