Earlier this year, Belgium’s High Council for Artisanal Lambic Beers (HORAL) had to cancel its popular Toer de Geuze event, due to prevailing covid restrictions. Its cancellation was met with great disappointment by beer connoisseurs around the world, most of whom share a fascination for the unique beer styles of Lambic and Oude Geuze.
Many looked forward to a pilgrimage to the region for this unique bi-annual event. To address the absence of a physical event this year, HORAL is now proud to announce the launch of a virtual version of Toer de Geuze on 1-2 May 2021, the same dates as the original event.
In fact, the “Toer de Geuze At Home” has already been launched via its website www.toerdegeuze.be. The site offers videos about each of HORAL’s lambic brewers and blenders, as well as insight into their unique brewing processes. Further videos and information will added to the website, throughout the month of April, leading up to a special finale, an interactive, livestreamed event on 1-2 May.
Few beer styles in the world – if any – are as revered by the international beer community as lambic and oude geuze. These unique beers can only be brewed in the Pajottenland and Senne Valley, a rural area in Flanders, on the western side of Brussels. In this region, lambic breweries and geuze blenders keep the centuries-old tradition of spontaneously fermented beers alive.
Lambic is a flat wheat beer, which ferments without any addition of yeast by the brewer. Airborne and barrel-resident microflora inoculate the wort and start up a long fermentation process. Traditionally, lambics of different ages (the oldest being at least three years old and the average at least one year old) are blended and then refermented in bottles to obtain sparkling oude geuze beers. Lambic and oude geuze are complex beers, replicating similar taste properties, as are found in wine, with surprisingly refreshing and fruity notes. Chefs in Belgium and across the world acknowledge their gastronomic potential and use them as an ingredient or as an accompaniment to go with their dishes.
Toer de Geuze, the biannual open brewery days of the lambic brewers and gueuze blenders, originated in 1997. Ever since its inception, passionate beer lovers from all over the world flock to the Pajottenland and Senne Valley to discover the unique cluster of lambic producers found in this region. Since 2017, its popularity has meant that the Toer de Geuze has been extended to a two-day event. This year, despite the physical event being cancelled, all breweries and blenderies who are united in HORAL (the non-profit organisation representing the majority of the lambic breweries and geuze blenders) – will participate in the virtual version, namely Boon, De Oude Cam, De Troch, Hanssens, Lambiek Fabriek, Lindemans, Mort Subite, Oud Beersel, Tilquin and Timmermans.
Throughout the month of April, Toer de Geuze At Home visitors can warm up for the event on www.toerdegeuze.be, which offers videos on all participating lambic producers, their unique brewing processes and the last Toer de Geuze, hosted in 2019. The live-streamed event on 1-2 May will take place over two half days in the form of an interactive event, broadcast from an authentic lambic café in the region. With all brewers and blenders participating in the live sessions, lambic lovers from all over the world will have the chance to pose their burning questions to their favourite producers. The full programme will also include sessions on beer gastronomy and the Megablend 2021. All events will take place in English, to appeal to its international audience.
To mark the occasion of every Toer de Geuze, a special limited edition oude geuze is blended for the event, entitled “The HORAL Megablend”. The Megablend 2021 will be a blend of young and old lambic from all HORAL members. Many beer afficionados, for whom the Megablend is a collector’s items, look forward to its launch on April 30th.
Fans will be pleased to learn that the dates for the next ‘physical’ edition of the Toer de Geuze have already been confirmed for 30 April – 1 May 2022. Until then, all content and videos on www.toerdegeuze.be will continue to be available for watching on demand.
Main image: Toer de Geuze 2019 © Toerisme Vlaams-Brabant