changes you noticed through the years?
"Things are pretty different now. The demand for the good stuff has massively increased and consequently it’s a lot more difficult to get the rarer bottles, even at the brewery. However, the regular beers appear in a lot more places than before, and the increased interest means that there are a lot of non-Belgian breweries trying similar things, with mixed success, in my opinion."
many craft brewers are into spontaneous brews/lambic--your take?
"Well, this is an interesting and slightly contentious question. There has been a lot of discussion over the use of the words Lambic and Gueuze. Personally, I feel that only beers made in the Payottenland area of Belgium should be allowed to be called Lambic or Gueuze, much in the same way as the use of the name Champagne is protected. However, the Cantillon boss has the opposite opinion, and my opinion is of no importance next to his. "
"Given my feeling I would say that not only the best Lambics are from Belgium, but that all real Lambics are from Belgium. Semantics aside though, there are some fine Lambic-style beers being made in other places, along with a lot of rubbish."
what is lambic to you?
"I remember having a sudden craving for a Cantillon Gueuze in the middle of a Sunday evening and was able to walk 20 minutes and get a bottle. It probably helps being in a large city like Tokyo or in Belgium for this to be possible though. But the point I am trying to make is that I don’t think there are many other beer styles that would make me even consider a sudden unplanned trip out on a Sunday evening when I have plenty of beer in the fridge. Because the taste is such a unique one, it’s something that is difficult to find a substitute for when a craving hits."
misguided perceptions about lambic?
"Basically, it seems that the consensus is that the more difficult it is to get hold of, the nicer it tastes, which is pretty ridiculous, but it’s easy to get caught up in the hype. You could easily spend a lot of money getting hold of various limited editions released in one bar or shop in the world and find that you prefer one of the regular beers. So best to choose a Lambic maker you enjoy and find one of their beers where they are playing around a bit, with ingredients that you enjoy."
"For those people who have tried the basics and want something more, the best thing I can suggest is follow your gut instinct and pick one that sounds nice to you from the ingredients used to make it."
"you have to get to know a Lambic a bit before you really get on well together. Generally speaking, look for the word ‘Oude’. This means that you are getting the good stuff, rather than the nasty sweetened stuff that goes around pretending to be an authentic part of the tradition."
NOT included in newspaper column:-
"Going to the Cantillon brewery and seeing where the beer is made also somehow enhances the experience. It’s a very different brewery visit than the usual walk round a warehouse with some gleaming equipment in it. Now I am so far from Belgium and unable to visit six times a year like I used to, I have to get my Lambic fill elsewhere. However, there is something special about drinking it in Belgium, and in particular Brussels."
"At least for me anyway. Our modern world allows us to get almost anything delivered to any place, but there is something to be said for the excitement of visiting a place and enjoying a product in the city it was made and in the environment it was created. Although the thirst quenching aspects would make it perfect for a hot Asian summer evening, it’s somehow more special when the sun manages to peak out from behind the heavy cloud when you’re sitting on a terrace in Belgium with this most Belgian of beers."
NEXT WEEK---when Denmark met New Zealand---8WIRED--chit chat with Soren Eriksen