4. Cantillon Gueuze at the Cantillon Brewery, Brussels
This is really a neat brewery, nothing more than a warehouse of sorts amid row-house apartments in a working-class Brussels neighborhood called Anderlecht.
It’s also famous for a bit of old brewing technology called spontaneous fermentation: they have holes in the roof which allow natural yeasts and microflora to react with the unfermented beer, causing this so-called spontaneous fermentation. This is how beer was made for millennia before scientists learned about yeasts – which eat sugars to create alcohol.
There are old oak casks lined along the wooden beams of the warehouse, most everything covered in dust and cobwebs – certainly not the pristine conditions of most modern breweries. But they don’t want to disturb any of the indigenous yeasts that give the beer a distinct flavor that can be produced only at this brewery.
The spontaneously fermented beer is quite sour so they usually blend it with fruit to give it balance and create something called lambic. However, they also have something called gueuze, which is just the sour beer, old batches blended with young, to create a lot of carbonation, and it’s my favorite. It’s the same process used to make champagne, which truly makes this the “champagne of beers” - sorry, Miller High Life fans.
Cantillon is just a little family brewery and when guests arrive the hosts, usually the owners themselves, pour beer for you into small wine glasses from corked, 750-milliter bottles they hold sideways in wicker baskets. There’s really no place, and no other beer, like it in the world and drinking at Cantillon is like stepping back in time, into some sort of 17th-century brewhouse heaven.