Cantillon Brewery (Brasserie-Brouwerij Cantillon) is a small Belgian traditional family brewery based in Anderlecht, Brussels and founded in 1900, notable for its lambic beers.
- 1 Brewing traditional lambic at Cantillon
- 2 Lambic Variations
- 3 Iris
- 4 Interviews
- 5 References
Brewing traditional lambic at Cantillon
- raw wheat 35%
- malted barley 65%
- aged dried hops (2-3 years old of Noble variety) : 250-300 grams per 100 L of wort  (~49 min in) (possibly this is based on a wort volume during the boil), or ~450g per 100 L of finished beer  (~43 min in). From these two references, it seems that Cantillon uses ~25 kg hops per brew and they yield on the order of 7000 L of wort into barrels, which would equate to ~350g per 100 L of finished cooled wort.
- Turbid mashing: A multi-step infusion mash with the removal of unconverted starchy wort (multiple steps from 45°c up to 72°c).
- Boiling: The wort undergoes a long boil of roughly four hours where it is hopped with aged whole hops.
- Cooling: The wort is cooled overnight in the coolship in contact with the open air. This allows natural inoculation of the wort by wild bacteria and yeasts.
- The next morning the cooled wort (~18°C) is pumped into oak or chestnut barrels.
- Spontaneous fermentation occurs in these barrels. Initial the fermentation is visibly active and may foam over out of the abrrels. A long slow fermentation and maturation with wild yeast and bacteria follows the initial visibly active fermentation. This long fermentation lasts one to three years, during which time all of the fermentable sugars and longer chain carbohydrates are consumed
On its own lambic is still (uncarbonated) because fermentation in the oak barrels allows the CO2 to escape.
Cantillon reports an OG of 12.5°P (~1.050). This suggests that either the abv is above 5% or that the finishing gravity is fairly high.
Final blend of 1, 2, and 3 year old lambic in order to make a gueuze is no more than 3.5 plato or 1.014 sg.
Gueuze 100% Lambic
The Cantillon Classic Gueuze standard ratio is 17% / 33% / 50% of 3yr / 2yr / 1yr lambic.
In the 18th century, a Benedictine monk, dom Pérignon, discovers the champagne method by blending different non sparkling white wines. One century later, a Brabant brewer blends different lambics and brings about a spontaneous fermentation in the bottle. The Gueuze was born.
Until the 19th century, the people from Brussels and Brabant mostly drank two beers, Lambic and Faro. The glass bottle and the discovery of Dom Perignon will bring about a revolution in the small world of the Brussels brewers. The Gueuze became the icon of the Brussels beers
Lambic, which is the base for the making of Gueuze, is a spontaneous fermentation beer. All beers made with Lambic are naturally sour, but some will be more sour, more bitter or "softer" than the others. The Gueuze is the result of a well-considered blending of Lambics of different ages and with different tastes. The Lambic beers from the Cantillon brewery, which are conserved in oak barrels, are called "young" after one year, but they will reach their full maturity after three years. The young beers contain the sugars which are necessary for the second fermentation in the bottle. The three years old beers will contribute their taste and their flavour. The main task for the brewer, however, is tasting. He will taste about ten Lambics from different barrels in order to select five or six which will be used for the Gueuze 100% Lambic presenting the typical characteristics of the beers from the Cantillon brewery. The bottles are closed with a cork, capped with a crown-cork. They will remain horizontally in a cellar for a year on average, in order to allow the sugars to be converted into carbon dioxide (second fermentation in the bottle). The saturation of the beer is slow and natural. When the Lambic becomes sparkling, it is called Gueuze. At that moment, this crown-jewel of the Cantillon brewery will leave the cellar of the brewery and find its way to the cellars of the lovers of the traditional Gueuze. Every blending will produce a different Gueuze. Since it is a natural process, it is impossible to make a standard beer. This beer is not only unique because of its brewing process, but also because it can be conserved for a long time. When kept in a good cellar, a Cantillon Gueuze will still have an exceptional taste and flavor after 20 years. The Gueuze 100% Lambic Cantillon represents half of the production of the brewery. The Gueuze 100% Lambic is available in 37,5 cl (1/2) or 75 cl (1/1) bottles.
Grand Cru Bruocsella
Straight unblended 3 year old lambic.
- Kriek - cherry lambic
- Rosé de Gambrinus - raspberry lambic
- Vigneronne - Muscat grape lambic
- St Lamvinus - Merlot grape lambic
- Fou' Foune - apricot lambic
- Lou Pepe - cherry or raspberry with 2 year old lambic
- Blåbær Lambik - bilberry
|Kriek||cherry||200 grams per liter  (~30 min in)||frozen whole fruits, 8 weeks - crop dependent|
|Saint Laminus||Merlot grapes||300 grams per liter  (~30 min in)||Fresh, whole, and NO longer than 8 weeks or acidity from the skins develop.|
|Rosé de Gambrinus||raspberry||200 grams per liter  (~30 min in)||frozen whole fruits, 8 weeks - crop dependent|
|Vigneronne||Muscat grapes||300 grams per liter  (~30 min in)||Fresh, whole, and NO longer than 8 weeks or acidity from the skins develop.|
|Fou' Foune||Bergeron apricot||300 grams per liter  (~30 min in)||half pitted - half not pitted - sliced in half for 5-6 weeks. Any longer and it becomes too tannic|
|Lou Pepe||cherry or raspberry||300 grams per liter  (~30 min in)||2 year old lambic, whole fresh fruits in the barrel, 8 weeks - crop dependent|
|Blåbær Lambik||bilberry||240 grams per liter = 2 pounds per US gallon||young/early/tart whole fresh in the barrel, 8 weeks - crop dependent|
Iris is a completely unique beer from anything else Cantillon does. Although it is a spontaneous fermentation beer, the Iris is very different from the Lambic.
As with Cantillon Lambic, the Original Gravity is estimated to be between ~1.045 and ~1.050. This would be consistent with other 5% abv Cantillon beer.
- 100% pale malt
- 50% fresh hops
- 50% aged hops
Iris is different than Lambic. It is only made with malt of the pale ale type (giving a more amber color to the beer) conserves the typical flavor of the spontaneous fermentation, the complex aromas and the vinous taste. The hopping is different too. Lambic is made with 100% aged hops, for the Iris they use 50% of aged hops and 50% of fresh hops. The latter cause a superb acidity, the former, due to their tannins, enable to conserve the beer while preserving all its qualities.
After two years in the barrel, the Iris undergoes a dry hopping with fresh hops in a linen bag for two weeks before the bottling. This "cold hopping" (or dry hopping) gives the beer a more intense flavor and makes the smell and the taste more bitter.
Iris is brewed only once every season and all the beers come from the same brewing. This is why the beer is dated. The second fermentation at bottling is obtained by adding fresh wort.
- Jean van Roy on Basic Brewing Radio
- The Sour Hour Episode 11 with Rob Tod and Jason Perkins from Allagash, Jean Van Roy from Cantillon, and Vinnie Cilurzo from Russian River
- Jean van Roy on the Brewing Network's Sunday Session
- The Lambic Summit with Jean van Roy, Armand Debelder and Frank Boon, a 20 video series
- Making filters at Cantillon - Shelton Brothers
- Video interview with Jean van Roy by Cerve TV