Iconic lambic brewer faces difficult future
The brewery is based in the town of Beersel, six miles from Brussels, and is run by Armand Debelder, a member of a famous family of lambic blenders. In the summer, Armand discovered that a faulty thermostat in his beer store had created a high temperature, with a large amount of beer spoilt. The beer was distilled and turned into eau-de-vie and Armand is now struggling to stay in business as a result of his heavy losses.
For many years, the Debelders bought in lambic beer from the likes of Boon, Girardin and Lindeman and blended and matured the beer in oak casks. Then in 1999 Armand took the fateful step of brewing his own beer: it was the first new lambic brewery in Belgium for 80 years.
As well as gueuze -- a blend of young and mature lambic -- framboos (raspberry) and kriek (cherry) beers, Armand has brought back the old style of Faro, a sweetened lambic, and also made beer with the addition of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes. The beers are on sale at the Drie Fonteinen restaurant next to the brewery in Beersel, run by Armand's brother Guido.
Armand was one of the driving forces behind HORAL, an organsiation of lambic brewers and blenders who have striven to give authenticity to their beers and distinguish them from what they call "industrial lambic" produced by such giant brewers as InBev.
Other member of HORAL are rallying to Armand's side and will do their best to help overcome his problems and remain in brewing. It would be tragedy if this magnificent brewery were to close.