Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Long Live Lou Pepe.

Old Jean-Pierre Van Roy has officially brewed his last batch of lambic. You might taste the effort in a gueuze one, two or three years from now — much longer even, if the bottle is well kept. But the man's own influence will live on much, much longer.

His son Jean poured us a small but potent glmpse of the present and future. The Zwanze series of lambics has been the younger Van Roy's brainchild. Last year it was a rhubarb lambic, tasty as usual and interesting as hell. He's outdone that one with the Zwanze 2009, steeped in elderflowers. The aroma is plainly floral without being over the top, mingling with the lemony and musty Cantillon character to pleasant effect. Naturally it's sour yet dry, drinkable and refreshing, with the floral backdrop remaining throughout.

Thanks largely to Jean-Pierre's wily efforts, Cantillon managed to survive an era that many other traditional lambic breweries did not. A younger generation has now tapped into the bines of a more flavorful past, and I'm not just talking about Jean Van Roy. You can meet Lou Pepe's protégés — and the protégés of his protégés — in cafés around Brussels and indeed in a few breweries across the country and abroad.

These days they're all planting their own bines.


  1. Nice shot you took of Jean-Pierre, Joe! I only managed to get dark blurry snaps of him cleaning the mash tun... Enjoyed my afternoon at Cantillon though!

  2. Wow...powerful article...a passing of the guard if you will. I wonder patiently as to what the future will bring us...

  3. While it's sad on the one hand, it sure is great to know the mash fork is being handed off to very capable hands.

  4. I met him a couple of years ago at Cantillon - nice guy. Hope he has a long and happy retirement.