I left the first few days of my trip open. Literally landing with no plan on where I would stay that night. I was kind of nervous but enjoyed the feeling of having absolutely no plan and/or place to be. I had been hoping to visit Brasserie Lefebvre brewery of Blanche de Brussels.
You, our loyal and enthusiastic patrons, drink so much of this bier that we are the number one seller in the world. Yes, you drink so much of this bier that we beat all the bars in Russia and France!
I had been going back and forth settingup my visit from back home but hadn't completely ironed everything out. I sat in the lobby of the airport hotel and sent a few emails and made a call to the brewery. They told me to come on by!
Now....how to get there?.....
A taxi was $275 euros. (To go 44 miles) the train was 1.5 hours. I decided I would drive. Why not!?? The Hertz team hooked me up with an automatic (important considering I haven't driven stick since college). To my luck the GPS was in English. And off I go! It may sound stupid but their was something about being by myself in a foreign country and being brave enough to just get in a car and go.
The scenery was very green and clean. I love windmills. Seemed like there were giant windmills along the whole ride. Lots of farmland and pastures with cows right up to the highways edge. The drive was a little over an hour to Brasserie Lefebvre located in Chemin du Croly. It was located in an almost residential area surrounded by small brick houses.
I was greeted by Peter de Lausnay (Export Manager). Peter had visited us last Oktoberfest in Asbury Park so it was nice for my first face to be a familiar one. Peter explained that Phillipe Lefebvre (5th Generation Owner) would be back after lunch. Meanwhile, we would go to a local tavern for a beautiful lunch and tasting of a few biers.
We ate at Taverne d Arenberg. A quaint pub with a historic atmosphere, friendly staff, picturesque setting and fabulous chef! Peter picked a delicious pate to start followed by an amazing warm goat cheese salad, paired with a bier I had never tried, made at by the same brewery.
Barbar Blonde 8% ABV (hell of a way to start a biercation) This bier was so delicious I would love to import and bring to the Festhalle. It's not quite in the US just yet. (Possibly in the works)
Barbar Blonde- "A Degustation Bier: Deep blonde in colour, Barbãr’s creamy head gives off a powerful aroma, unobtrusively scented with honey and accompanied by a bouquet of floral, spicy and citrus notes."
Description from the website describes it perfectly. I am not a sweet bier drinker. Do not mistake the honey for making it sweet. More so makes it incredibly smooth. This bier also paired incredibly well with my meal which is where the term "Degustation Bier" comes in.
Hoping someday I can share it with you at the Festhalle.
2nd Bier: Barbar Bok 8.5% ABV Man! the biers are strong here. Simply put it was a brown ale made with same recipe as the blonde. While it was delicious and I am typically a dark bier drinker, I loved the Barbar Blonde best.
After lunch, the 5th generation owner of Brasserie Lefebvre, Philippe Lefebvre, gave me an incredible tour of the brewery. His passion for brewing and knowledge of bier are inspiring. I watched him walk through the brewery noticing every detail. He knew every employee's name and interacted with each of them along the way.
The science of brewing bier is magical to me. This brewery uses water from local wells and also cleans its waste water in a €100,000,000 Water treatment plant on the property before sending back into the river. Along with its earth friendly water treatment plant, Brasserie Lefebvre also recycles all of its bottles with in 300km. You can see pictures and video of the bottle cleaning line. Very cool. Very Green.
The breweries are simply mad science. While I have been to breweries before and am somewhat familiar in the process of making bier It was quite an education to walk through every step of the process with such an incredible expert. The attention to every detail to maintain such high quality bier was amazing. At Brasserie Lefebvre each batch brewed is taken from start to finish by one brewer. The same person takes it all the way to the bottling line to assure the product is perfect.
6 generations have brewed this bier since 1876. Philippe proudly talks about his daughter Celine and son Paulwho are now stepping in to run the brewery. He doesn't seem quite ready to take his 'hands off the bier' just yet but is working towards retirement. Philippe can see the chimney of the brewery from his house. He says the smoke coming from the chimney gives him comfort when he is not on site. Philippe is a testimony to the generation that worked so hardthey don't know how to not work and why stop when you simply love what you do for a living.
I will regroup in Brussels next weekend with Brasserie Lefebvre at a Bier Festival on the Grand Plaza. Till then.....santé!
(Brassiere Lefebvre is located on the French side of Belgium. 2 sides to the country Dutch and French. Much history and politics behind the language divide.)