Last updated: 11:00 PM ET, Tue September 06 2016

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  • Worldwide Scott | September 6, 2016 11:00 PM ET

    Getting Spontaneous at Brussels’ Legendary Cantillon Brewery

    Getting Spontaneous at Brussels’ Legendary Cantillon Brewery

    All photos by Worldwide Scott

    I definitely love beer as much as the next person, and by extension, I also love a good brewery tour as much as the next person, too. While I will freely admit that I have come down with a case of STF (silver tank fatigue) during a tour or two in my day, I still think an educational spin around a brewery is one of the best ways you can spend an hour or two while traveling.

    And when in Brussels, there is one brewery that you just simply have to tour, and it's called Cantillon.

    What makes Cantillon so special? Cantillon are the undisputed masters of spontaneous fermentation, and their brewery is like no other in the world. You won’t find many spanking new shiny tanks (or shiny anything for that matter) at the brewery, as Cantillon carries on in the manner that they have since the brewery was founded in 1900 - and with much of the original equipment.

    The brewery is still run by the same family, and their collection of sour spontaneously fermented beers have become fabled around the beer-drinking world.

    Spontaneous ferma-what? In short, spontaneous fermentation is the process of letting natural yeasts in the air find their way to the beer, instead of artificially jump-starting the process. Essentially, the windows of the brewery are left open, and nature does the rest.

    What’s the tour like? The brewery is located in an unassuming warehouse, a few minutes stroll from the very modern Midi Train Station, but once inside Cantillon, the clock goes back big time.

    Brewers/guides start things off with tales from Cantillon’s storied past and present, sharing tidbits about the unique process that is spontaneous fermentation. Proceedings are mostly self-guided from there, slowly snaking their way through the dusty storehouse.

    READ MORE: Why September Is The Best Month To Go To Europe

    So what’s the beer like? The process results in a beer called Lambic, and it is only able to be made in and around Brussels due to the unique atmospheric conditions and yeasts in the air. Lambic itself is a bit on the tart side for many, but if you mix aged and unaged Lambics together (like Cantillon does masterfully), you get a magical brew called Gueuze.

    Cantillon also adds fruit to the Lambic, and that results in beautiful brews like Kriek (cherry) and Rosé (raspberry). The Kriek is of especial note for the fact that it is only brewed once a year and it is made with fresh cherries delivered by a massive truck, whose arrival has become an annual tradition in itself. Cantillon does an expert job of just adding a touch of the genuine fruit flavor, so you never end up with something too sugary or syrupy like some of the other Krieks from the region. 

    Are there samples of said beer included on the tour? Of course, there are a couple of samples at the end of the tour! And since Cantillon can be hard to come by in some places of the world, the brewery has become a place of pilgrimage, with some people enjoying their first-ever sips on the tour.

    This results in a load of camaraderie in the tasting room, creating a jovial atmosphere full of beer lovers from all over the world toasting to Cantillon’s sensational spontaneous touch.

    Address: Cantillon Brewery - Rue Gheude 56 - Brussels

    Cost: 7 Euros

    Language: Tours are offering in English, Dutch, and French,

    Open: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday 10-5 (last tours leave at 4)

    Closed: Wednesdays & Sundays



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Worldwide Scott The Adventures of Worldwide Scott

Worldwide Scott Born in the U.S.A like Springsteen but trying to see the world like Pitbull, Worldwide Scott is the voice behind the hard-hitting travel site of the same name. Employing a groundbreaking strategy of visiting destinations, coming home, and then writing things about them on the internet, Worldwide Scott only tackles the tough questions that other writers wouldn't dare touch: Is travelling fun? Are there pretty places in the world? Do people in other countries wear clothes? Does Europe really exist? And if so, what's the beer like there? Stick around, he's going places.
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