Georges Lacambre: the man who taught Belgium how to brew

On May 30, 1884 a man was buried at the Cimétière de Passy in Paris, in a grave on section 1, row 8 south, number 3 east.[1] This graveyard, today located within a short walking distance from the Eiffel tower, looks just like you’d imagine a cemetary in Paris: lots of robust small tombs the size of telephone boxes, statues of mourning angels, and shiploads of expensive looking marble. This is where he found his last resting place: Georges Lacambre, the man who taught Belgium how to brew.

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A small history of Flemish old brown (and red) – 1

On November 23 in the year 1877 there a very tragic accident took place in a brewery in the town of Geraardsbergen in the province of East-Flanders. One of the workers was cleaning a large vat that had been used or making old beer. Suddenly, he was overwhelmed by the vapours emanating from the yeast on the bottom of the vat, and he about to suffocate. Brewer Emile Vande Maele quickly jumped into the vat to save his unfortunate employee. The other workers tried to stop him, but it was too late. Vande Maele too couldn’t get air and choked. From everywhere people rushed forward to help, but there was so much carbon dioxide in the air that even the lamps held above the vat extinguished several times. In the end, the vat had to be chopped into pieces to get the bodies out.[1]

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Lyon: a brewing island in a sea of wine

One of the subjects I love writing about, is the beer history of France. You mean, they have a beer history? They do, because besides all the wine there are also the extreme north (French Flanders and Picardy) and the east (Alsace), that both have a tradition of brewing. For centuries, even Paris had a brewers’ guild. And there was another place that I encountered from time to time: Lyon. Europe’s southernmost traditional brewing city.

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When Hoegaarden was still spontaneously fermented

The brewery in the Bokrijk museum, with equipment originally from HoegaardenSpontaneous fermentation: magic words to anyone who loves wild, sour, aged beer full of brett, bugs and lactic acid. A method characterized by the fact that no yeast is actively added by the brewer. It’s mainly known for lambic, that wonderful Brussels beer which, after having aged for a few years, is used for making gueuze, faro and kriek. But what if I tell you that once there was another spontaneously fermented Belgian beer type, but one that was considerably different? One whose distant relative is still available on every corner in Belgium?

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