Hanging out in a Belgian Beer garden
Tucked away in an idyllic backyard garden in the Belgian village of Teuven is one man's tribute to the glories of Belgian beer – De Zotte Lambiek. Simply put, Guido Spronck is a beer sommelier. What he knows about the countless varieties and brewing methods of Belgium's favorite liquid refreshment can turn an afternoon of drinking into a never-ending tall tale of hops and barley.
Cycling up to this spot dedicated to the art of Belgian beer is pure joy. What Guido doesn't know about Belgian beers probably isn't important in the first place.
"Lambiek" is a character in the most iconic Belgian comic book, "Suske and Wiske" and well known to all Belgian and Dutch readers. His name means Lambic, which are the strong dark beers brewed with wild yeasts, which perfectly describes his unpredictable and hotheaded nature.
De Zotte Lambiek provides a most extensive selection of beers from all regions of Belgium; from the lowlands of Ghent and Bruges to the devotional brewery centers of Trappist monasteries and onward to the family brassieres of the Ardennes Forest. Guido has you covered.
Give in to the master and defer the decision-making to his knowing hands. Let him gently inquire about your drinking preferences and then – voila – he deftly offers suggestions to satisfy your thirst.
It's freeing, it's liberating and it allows you to experience beers that you would probably never select.
Guido spends his off hours dutifully combing the Belgian countryside to taste and source small-batch beers that are sold from where they are brewed. Many of his beers cannot be found at your local Belgian beer wholesaler – no matter how wide-ranging their stock.
A timeless day adventure for me is a cycle ride through the farm paths and lanes on the ridges from Maastricht to Voeren. Stopping for a lunch of fresh trout at a favorite restaurant (with springs dating from 1636) and then stopping into De Zotte Lambiek to sample a brew or two from Guido's storehouse. Ambrosia in a glass!
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