It's all about the beer and finding your way to it

Monday, May 3, 2010

Open Breweries

The last Sunday in April was the 2nd annual Open Brewery Day in Belgium. Many breweries that do not normally give tours open their doors to the public and most include a free beer. Most of these were pretty big brewing companies and even included ones owned by multinationals (AB Inbev did not open its massive factory in Leuven but they did open the Hoegaarden brewery).

Mechelen's Het Anker brewery and Kobbegem's Mort Subite were on my schedule for the day. Het Anker, makers of the excellent Gouden Carolus brand, is a privately owned brewery in a small but rambling complex of old buildings on the ring road west of the city. They have some beautiful old copper kettles as well as a state of the art bottling line that pumps out 3000 bottles an hour.

The (mostly sweet) lambic producer Mort Subite is in the rural town of Kobbegem just northeast of Brussels. While it is now owned by Heineken it is still an old brewery a lovely brewhouse. Most of their output is syrupy sweet lambics like Kriek Xtreme where, if there even is any, the spontaneous fermentation comes from air pumped in rather than traditional open fermentation, any fruit flavor comes from syrup, and it is aged in steel. Still they do produce some traditional oude gueuze and kriek in their old wooden barrels that is not half bad.

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