When it comes to the best beer bar on the planet, there’s always one name mentioned: ‚In de Verzekering tegen de Grote Dorst‘ (translated as „In the Insurance against Great Thirst“). In the centre of the so called Pajottenland, a famous lambic-region southwest of Brussels, the ways to world class beers are short. But it’s still remarkable, that a small village pub got such a reputation within the beer scene worldwide. I had to get to the bottom of it.
Sometimes we are not that stupid, so together with the Hopfenjüngern we started very early to arrive in the small village of Elzeringen before the regular opening times of the location. We assumed that at the beginning of the Cantillon Quintessence weekend beer geeks from all over the world would be in the region, and of course would most probably have also this place on their bucket list. And the feeling was so true, 30 minutes before the opening at ten in the morning a large group of sour beer lovers were already waiting in the typical rain in front of the wooden door. The opening times are part of the myth, as the pub is only open on Sundays, on church holidays and after funerals held in the church close by.
But thanks to our British UKCBF fellows we managed to get the pole position and, much more important, a place at a table. During the next hour the queue to the bar started outside the door on the street and the staff did their very best to feed everybody with all the treasures out of the cellars. But I still had to find out what the legend around this place is all about.
Beside the quaint atmosphere and the friendly staff the extraordinary beers are of course the main attraction, which attracts not only beer lovers, but also the people from the neighborhood. It’s so good to see whole families having a fantastic gueuze for their normal Sunday afternoon chat. The cellar is full of treasures, the beer list a magical book and especially old vintages brewed and blended by the big names of the lambic- and gueuze world attract attention. Where can you usually get a 30 year old beer, that comes to the table in proper style covered in dust?
In our case we chose the 1988 Eylenbosch Gueuze, a brewery, that has been founded 1889 and was bought by Mort Subite 1989, one year after this Gueuze has found its way to the market. The brewery in Schipdaal was abandoned 2001 and is now being reconstructed into an apartment complex. It was just amazing to see how fresh and fruity this beer still was, and even if it wasn’t a bargain, the price was absolutely reasonable. In general the prices were more than moderate compared to the quality and the prices on the open market.
To taste as much of these treasures we were in a perfect position, because sharing with ten gave us the chance to drink our way through the cellar, which was an overwhelming experience. So a big thank you to our old and new UKCBF friends, that made it possible to taste some beers, that were a bit over our financial pain threshold… Especially as this was just the beginning of a four day sour mayhem.
The Verzekering tegen den groten dorst made more than clear, that the reputation is more than justified. Not only because of the fantastic beer selection, but also because of the unique atmosphere, that was still cosy, even if it was fully packed. You can smell the patina of a long history, that has been nearly coming to an end in 1999, when the owner, a 85 year old lady called Margriet, decided to pour the last glass on Christmas eve. But the brothers Paneels decided to save the bar, that has been in place since 1842. After four years of restoration works, it reopened 2005. So a very unique place survived, and even as it’s no longer a hidden secret, it’s highly recommended for every beer lover.
It’s hard to find the best ones among a number of beers, that are all world class and exciting. But I will give it a try.
I got furious when I realized that I missed the Bokkereyder beers at Arrogant Sour 2017. But now I got the chance to taste three of their beers (Pjassel, Vlierbloesem, Zomersaison), that proved, that the whole hype is fully justified!
Geuzestekerij De Cam, Oude Kriek 2009
Beside all the big names within the Belgian beers De Cam is running a bit under my radar. In 1999 they started to blend lambics they got from Boon, Girardin and Lindemans, three years later the first releases have been distributed. The first Oude Kriek bottles seem to be released 2004. For this beer the rare Schaerbeekse cherries are used, but sometimes also cherries from Boon’s properties in Poland are mixed under it.
Time does well for this 2009 Kriek. The beer is extremely smooth and offers full cherry flavor. We also tried the Wilde Bosbessen, that gushed a bit at the bar and covered all the just cleaned glasses with blue-red foam. The staff was not amused. This one definitely is no beer for newbies. Dry as hell with a lot of brett, sweaty armpit aroma included. I guess some of us checked if it’s us or the beer… The berry comes more over the berry skin, but is very present. After the first shock a beautiful, challenging beer develops.
Oud Beersel, Schaarbeekse Oude Kriek
So far I underrated Oud Beersel a bit. The lambic brewery that uses Boon wort, has a long tradition that goes back to 1882. The 2015 vintage of the Schaarbeekse Oude Kriek seems to be the first edition of this and appears extremely fresh, fruity and full of harmony. I couldn’t stop licking my lips. As the cherries are so rare they started to grow their own ones, first harvest to be expected for 2020.
Tommie Sjef Wild Ales, Framboos
It was a very successful year for the young dutch brewer, and he hasn’t disappointed me so far. Also the Framboos has this special funky sourness, that goes so well with all the fruit. He’s constantly on a world class level.
HORAL’s Oude Geuze Mega Blend 2009
This is a very special beer as it’s the first collaboration of 3 Fonteinen, Boon, De Cam Geuzestekerij, De Troch, Hanssens, Lindemans, Oud Beersel and Timmermans for the Toer de Geuze festival 2009. 16.000 bottles have been blended and bottled at Boon’s brewery. This was our first beer of the weekend and it led the direction. Despite the age, it’s still fresh and funky, with a very smooth mouthfeel. A perfect 10 o’clock beer. But as you all know, the breakfast gueuze is the most important gueuze of the day! And we followed this principle also during the next days in Brussels.
A big thank you goes to lambic.info for all the background information!
In de Verzekering tegen de Grote Dorst
Frans Baetensstraat 45 1750 Eizeringen (Lennik)
Tel. +32 2 532 58 58 Fax +32 2 532 58 58