Every two years the lambic and gueuze brewers and blenders in the Payottenland area around Brussels throw open their doors to visitors. The event is hosted by HORAL - Hoge Raad voor Ambachtelijke Lambikbieren - Society of Artisanal Lambic brewers.
Put at its most simply, lambic (or lambik) is the pure form of the famous Belgian beers brewed sour by a spontaneous fermentation taking wild yeast strains from the air rather than a more common cultured yeast; gueuze or geuze (pronounced guurzz) is a blend of the still lambics refermented in the bottle to give a more spritzy character and kriek or framboise is a lambic steeped with cherry or raspberry and refermented in the bottle to give a more fruity beer. They are truly the world's most extraordinary beers.
Nine breweries (or blenders) take part and anyone can travel round the venues under their own steam, just visit one brewery, or take an organised tour. Horal organise buses that manage to visit five of the places and it takes a special effort to get to all nine in a day. I visited with Podge's Belgian Beer Tours and our bus managed eight (missing De Troch) having a couple of sat-nav malfunctions during the day, though our companion bus full of Podge's Norwegian beer tourists were delighted to get to all nine. More about Podge's beer tours another time - I have much praise to shout about these legendary beer tours.
The video on the Horal website shows what a family fun day this is, where the hard-core beer geek mixes with local families enjoying the beer, the breweries, the history, the music and the sunshine.
There is no fun in just reading "I went to a brewery and drunk this beer" - You really had to be there to soak it all in. What I will do is share some of the photos that I took in the hope that it will entertain, amuse, give a flavour and hopefully inspire a similar visit for others in 2013.