Just on the outskirts of Brussels, is a countryside hike that takes you through a land home to some of the oldest beer-making traditions the world has ever known. It’s a nature filled hike, with several options to sample some geuze, krieks and other such fruit-flavoured Lambic specialities. Want to learn more, then carry on reading.
Alsemberg – Alsemberg
What is a Lambic?
Lambic beer is very particular to the southern areas of Belgium.
For a German like myself, Lambic is very far from what we would classify as beer. It’s blended, fermented, and made with fruit. But in the end, this complex and age old beer is beautifully rounded, flavour-full with an incredible tradition to provide in-depth context to its taste and backstory.
Like beer, the main ingredients are barley, wheat and hops, where are brewed together and openly stored in cold temperatures, where yeasts and bacteria that live within the barrels naturally foster the beers. It’s because of this need for cool environments that Lambic beer is only made during the winter months, still to this day.
When you visit a Lambic brewery they will tell you then the yeast has been circulating in the air for hundreds of years, which is what makes the beer-tradition in this region so unique.
The beer is then fermented in a wine or sherry cask over several years, which can include periods of blending. In some instances fruits as walnuts or sour cherries are added, and sometimes even yeast is used the manufacturing process.
Now for the fun part.
The Lambic walking trail is a 16k walk that takes you throughout the Flanders district through Beersel, Dworp and Alsemberg.
It’s an educational route, with plenty of stop-offs for learning, drinking, and site-seeing.
Starting at De Lambiek, a cultural-centre and bar that specialises win the local beer, the 16k route is primarily best done anti-clockwise, although this is ultimately up to you.
By following the Broek stream south through sprawling fields and forests you end up in the village of Dworp, a village with a rich brewing history and home to the old Hanssens Artisanaal brewery.
To get a quick taste of the region pop into the Gildenhuis, a super authentic local bar with a huge list of Lambics on offer, all set within a beautiful, 500 year-old facade.
Further on through sprawling countryside and fields and you start to approach Beersel, and one of the prime location spots to spend some quality time at.
Almost 150 years old, the Oud Beersel brewery is one of the last remaining, authentic Lambic breweries in the world. Having almost closed its doors very recently, the brewery was recently brought back to life, with a new and expansive showroom and shop for visitors.
Here you can see the cask room, see the barrels, learn about the history, shop in the extensive show room and then visit the incredible bar and restaurant.
Tours are available in English, but only on Saturday afternoons and have to be booked in advance.
The bierhaus has a multitude of local dishes to top up your energy, along with a wide selection of their geuze and kriek beers.
Towards the End
Carry on into the old town of Beersel where you will pass the restaurant of the 3 Fonteinen brewery. The brewery can also be visited upon appointment.
As you head back to Alsemberg you will pass the Beersel Watersilo and the Alsemberg church, which dates back to the 12th century.
Finally, you finish the hike at De Lambiek, where the local team can help you navigate through the Lambics you may have missed along the way, with their extensively stocked bar, with a grand terrace that looks out across the old town. The perfect way to finish a tour of the Lambic beer region.