Belgium: AB InBev revives 20 years discontinued traditional lambic brand

After being discontinued for almost 20 years AB InBev announced to revive its traditional lambic brand Belle VueSelection to debut in October 2018. Brasserie Belle-Vue  is since the merger  of Brasserie Artois with Piedboeuf and the creation of Interbrew in 1988 dominated by what is today the world’s largest brewer AB InBev. The company operates an industrial-sized brewery located in Sint-Pieters-Leeuw just outside of the Brussels Capital Region and produced in the last years only non-traditional, sweetened lambics for the masses.

In 1999, when sour beers were becoming less and less popular the Lambic Selection production was discontinued. While the traditional lambic brewing processes asks for spontaneous fermentation during cooling of the wort  in the coolship, Belle Vue used instead a process called the DKZ method (DK - De Keersmaeker, Z - Zuun) where the lambic is first cooled using a traditional heat exchanger and then non-sterile, compressed air is pushed into the tanks. This introduces the local microorganisms to the wort. Belle Vue also blends old lambic back into the tanks at this time to further ensure that the young wort is inoculated.

"Today, sour beers are on the rise, demand is growing strongly both domestically and internationally, and the Belle-Vue brewery is reintroducing two traditional products with Lambic Vieille Gueuze Selection and Lambic Kriek Selection, meeting demand of consumers looking for authenticity and special flavors, "explains Maurane Témot, High End Marketing Director for Belgium.

According to a press release “Selection Lambic Kriek is composed of different Belle-Vue Kriek vintages and has, thanks to the years of aging on oak wood, a nice balance between the subtle fruity Kriek and the spice of Lambiek.”

“The Old Gueuze Lambic Selection is a selection of different vintage lambics, which after refilling in April this year, is re-fermented in bottle for 6 months in the cellars of the brewery. The citrus hints and typical lambic flavors give the beer a long and balanced aftertaste,” says the brewery

The monitoring of the traditional production process of lambic and geuze is in the hands of the High Council for Traditional Lambic Beers (HORAL), which was founded in 1997 by 11 brewers and blenders. The organization was also one of the main drivers for protecting the product under the rules of EU Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG). Despite the fact that AB InBev is not member of HORAL Belle VueSelection will be allowed to be called lambic because the company adheres to the rules which are stipulated for TSG.

Right after world-war II Belle Vue was the first lambic brewery to filter and pasteurize gueuze, in order to prevent the bottles from exploding, which happened quite often at that time. This was the start of the triumphal procession of Belle Vue, which acquired in the following years several other lambic breweries including Louis & Emile De Coster in 1952 and Timmermans in 1955, De Boeck and Goossens (Brasseries Unies ) in 1969 and Brabrux in 1970, which in turn had before bought other well known lambic breweries like De Keersmaeker, Vaan Haelen-Coche, Bécasse-Steppé, and Vandenperre. Last in line was the take-over of De Neve in 1975. In this time Belle-Vue controlled approximately 75% of the lambic market.

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