Key brewery joins Belgium's wild bunch
Added: Tuesday, January 24th 2023
The High Council for Artisanal Lambic Beers (HORAL) has welcomed Eylenbosch as a new member. The non-profit organisation that unites the majority of lambic brewers and geuze cutters now has 12 producers. Since 2020, Eylenbosch has been the third brewery, after Lambiek Fabriek and Den Herberg, to join HORAL. The High Council’s main objective is to promote traditional lambic beers, especially Oude Geuze and Oude Kriek, and the association also takes initiatives to protect these beers. Every two years, HORAL organises the Toer de Geuze. The next edition of the famous open brewery weekend will take place on Saturday, 4th, and Sunday, May 5th 2024.
Emile Eylenbosch founded Eylenbosch brewery in Schepdaal in 1886. In the 20th century, the brewery quickly became one of the most important lambic and gueuze producers in the Pajottenland. The brewery reached its peak in the period around the Brussels World Exhibition of 1958. After that, lambic beers lost popularity in favour of industrial lagers. Eylenbosch experienced tough times and stopped producing gueuze and other lambic beers in the early 1990s.
The De Keersmaeker family of Mort Subite bought the Eylenbosch brewery. Later, Alken-Maes took ownership of Eylenbosch. In 2002, the brewery group decided to close down Eylenbosch permanently, and the building remained in the hands of the De Keersmaeker family.
Urban development and other permit issues caused the brewery building to remain empty for years. After almost 30 years of hibernation, Eylenbosch finally returned to life in 2019. The building vacancy ended, and Erik De Keersmaeker (pictured above)) decided to resume his family’s brewing tradition. As the fifth generation, with brewing engineer Klaas Vanderpoorten and childhood friend Jeroen Lettens, Erik brought the Eylenbosch beer brand back to life.
The triumvirate attaches great importance to tradition and authenticity. In addition to the high-fermentation beers bearing the name "Patience for Eylenbosch", Erik, Klaas and Jeroen mainly produce lambic beers according to the traditional method. Eylenbosch Oude Lambiek, Oude Geuze, Oude Kriek and Oude Schaarbeekse Kriek are already on the shop shelves.
“The Eylenbosch offices are in the old brewery house of the De Keersmaeker family in Kobbegem. Since 2019, Klaas has been brewing all lambic in the De Troch brewhouse in Wambeek. Afterwards, the lambic ripens in the Hof van Piemont farmhouse in Zellik. Soon we will also store lambic in the iconic Eylenbosch building in Schepdaal,” says Erik De Keersmaeker. “Our first bottles of Oude Geuze were presented two years ago. The three-year-old lambic in the blend of the Oude Geuze that is now on the market still originates from a fellow Lambic brewer. The first Eylenbosch Oude Gueuze made with 100% Eylenbosch lambic is planned for next spring.”
Eylenbosch’s total lambic stock currently exceeds 1000 hectoliters. It matures in 280 oak barrels of 225 litres, 110 of 500 litres and 21 4000 to 5000 litres casks.
The High Council for Artisanal Lambic Beers was founded in 1997. The organisation unites most lambic breweries and gueuze blenders in Flemish and Walloon Brabant. In addition to Eylenbosch, Boon, De Oude Cam, De Troch, Den Herberg, Hanssens, Lambiek Fabriek, Lindemans, Mort Subite, Oud Beersel, Tilquin, and Timmermans are also members of the brewers’ association.
Pictured below: the directors of HORAL.