A day trip to Payottenland (part two)
Posted by Jeremy Gray on 08/29/2003 10:25:23 AM
Arriving in Halle, I made quickly for the Bob H bar, the Cambrinus, but before I got there, I went to do a bit of shopping, in the excellent Streekproductencentrum, just round the corner from said Bob bar. And what a great shop this is – any fan of the more obscure or hard to find lambics should head to this shop, its wonderful and of course there was far too much stuff that I wanted to buy. I made do with 5 x 75cl bottles, thinking this was enough to cart round for the rest of the day. I got three Belle Vue Selection Lambic; one Moriau Oude Gueuze, and one Mort Subite Oude Gueuze. The shop also sells boatloads of Drie Fonteinen gueuze and kriek, that sort of stuff – top quality.
Anyway, I was paying for my stash when in walked two guys to deliver beer to the shopowner. We started chatting and I noticed that one of them was wearing a Drie Fonteinen shirt, and I was thinking he looked rather familiar. So I asked was he Armand (Debelder, the DF brewer) and he laughed and confirmed that he was! He asked me where I was going next, and I said that I had been thinking of going to Drie Fonteinen for lunch. He offered me a lift, so after he had done his delivery, I jumped in the Drie Fonteinen truck and off we went to Beersel.
Of course we went the scenic route, via Oud Beersel – the cafe is still lying empty with the ‘for sale’ signs on it. Armand tells me it has, however, been sold and is going to become a flower shop……
He then took me to two stores near his own brewery. One was chock full of beer and is where he holds his stock and ages them till they are ready, and the other is where he has more barrels, including two giant barrels marked ‘Oud Beersel’. He has now bought a load of the stock and other stuff from Frank Boon, who bought the lot when Oud Beersel closed. Anyway, Armand told me that one barrel in the corner contained what he described as a new batch of Oud Beersel beer. I asked if I’d heard him correctly, and he confirmed that I had, and that there will, therefore, be more Oud Beersel coming out in due course – brewed by Armand. So while he thinks there is absolutely no chance of the brewery itself and the café being saved, the beer will live on – albeit presumably in very small quantities. I didn’t ask if this was going to be a one off or if it would be ongoing.
Next treat he showed me in the second store was a crate of special beer that he has brewed specially for export to the US. It is made with red Italian grapes, he says it is ‘champagne like’ and is ‘absolutely wonderful’. He said it would sell for over 10 euros a bottle, so I asked him to name his price for a bottle but he said he couldn’t as its all spoken for. US babblers, you are in for a treat when this lot arrives.
Then it was down to the brewery and he showed me all around, explained his views on spiders and fruit flies, and explained why his brewery is kept free of all that stuff. He showed me all the barrels with the various lambics from, for example, Lindemans, and explained how he blends the various lambics together. Fascinating stuff.
Even more fascinating was the two large pallets I saw sitting ready for dispatch on arrival: Joris – heads up: it was two giant pallets of two special beers that he has blended for the forthcoming wedding of Joost, co-owner of de Heeren van Liedekercke. Again, I tried but failed to procure a bottle of each beer, but I’d love to get my hands on one. (hint to JPP!!)
Another interesting tit bit that Armand told me – he now uses Polish cherries in most of his kriek, and he even showed me the packet to prove it.
Armand is a total gentleman, and I would like to thank him for the time he took to spend showing me round yesterday. It was fantastic to meet him, see the brewery and the other locations, and to hear so much direct from this fascinating source, especially as my visit was completely unplanned and he was in the middle of a busy day. It was a great impromptu visit.
Before leaving I bought another 75cl bottle, this time of DF kriek, made using the Schaarbeek cherries and labelled as such, plus a couple of glasses, from the new shop which he has now opened attached to the brewery.
Next up, it was beer and lunch at the Drie Fonteinen restaurant (which Armand says is now a completely separate business from the brewery – Guido runs the restaurant, Armand runs the brewery) next door. Taking my life (and my teeth) in my hands, I had a sumptuous rabbit in gueuze, plus a Kriekenlambic followed by a superb Drie Fonteinen gueuze. Sitting there feeling rather pleased with the day so far, I then headed down the hill to get the train back to Halle.
Part three to follow…….
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