BRUGES - After years of wandering, Bourgogne des Flandres has once again found a permanent home in Burgundian Bruges. This beer left the city when Bruges brewery Den Os closed its doors in 1957 and ended up finding a home with lambic brewery Timmermans, joining The Finest Beer Selection of the Anthony Martin Group.
Bourgogne des Flandres is a ‘cut beer’ (a blended beer), in this case a blend of a young brown top-fermented beer and a lambic matured on oak for over a year.
“We are brewing the top-fermented beer right here in our brand new microbrewery,” Bruges brewer Thomas Vandelanotte tells us with justified pride.
“The mother beer ferments in open basins, just like in ancient times. This prompts the yeast to develop more fruity esters (that form the basis for aromas developed later on in the process).”
We are strolling through the brewhall in the attic. The floor is transparent and allows me a direct look at the open basin where the yeast has created an abstract pattern.
Walking high above an open fermentation basin is a unique experience.
Thomas is busy setting the filtration process in motion. He picks up a bag of Cascade hop cones. “Have a sniff of this!” My senses are now going into overdrive.
The brewer pours me a tasting glass of extremely sweet wort, tepid and freshly poured from the tank. “Ideal if you feel in need of a booster,” Thomas laughs. “You refill your own tank with pure energy.”
Heritage & History
Visitors are welcomed at this city brewery, located on the canals, or ‘reien’, of Bruges. Wherever you go, this ancient city fills you with a sense of history. Join a brewery tour and a splendid view of the belfry is yours.
Enjoy a beer on the terrace with a bite to eat and watch the flotilla of small boats drifting past. Everything here is done on a small scale which contributes to the cosy feel.
From the terrace you can also see the brewers at work, I am gazing down the transparent glass floor. With one eye I can glimpse the cold storage tanks, my other eye is busy admiring the splendid historic interior courtyard.
I am impressed by the long heritage of this beer. History comes alive in words and pictures. At the same time, I can observe how the current batch of beer is produced.
In the brewery tavern, a good helping of delicious 'stoofvlees' (beef stew) awaits me, marinated in Bourgogne des Flandres, what else? On the side, a good helping of Belgian fries and, it goes without saying, a glass of the brewery’s own beer.
My visit is followed by a degustation of Timmermans lambic and Bourgogne des Flandres. You can also produce your own blend, based on your own taste profile.
You can add more or less lambic, just the way you like it. It quickly becomes apparent that there are many shades of sweet and sour. I am rounding off my meal with a sweet flan accompanied by a sauce of Bourgogne des Flandres. Even at the end of a meal, beer makes its presence felt.
“We are reverting to pure craftsmanship,” Anthony Martin, CEO of Anthony Martin’s Finest Drinks, explains to us. “You can see the beer ‘grow’ in front of your eyes. Thomas and my son Edward are playing a major role in the business."
"They were trained by our brewmaster, Willem Van Herreweghen. After we took over the Timmermans brewery, Willem fine-tuned their lambic beers.”
The quality of the lambics was improved as a result.
The current Bourgogne des Flandres has also gained in quality. The beer is more balanced. Anthony calls it a ‘kriek without krieken’.
At a time when the world is turning increasingly ‘global’, authentic regional beers and city beers are gaining ground.
The background steeped in history and the efforts made by the brewer are the ‘cherry on the cake’.
“Everyone is invited to come along to ‘the most romantic brewery in the world”, Anthony says with a smile.
“Come to Bruges and meet our brewers. You will soon find out how much pride they take in their beers and how driven they are. And don’t forget to enjoy our ‘Bourgogne’!”
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Bourgogne des Flandres