A very interesting experience. Jean needs money so he labels it a museum. Tourists bring him money but overrun the place as a result. He gets annoyed and stand-offish as a result of dealing with idiots all day.
That only bothered us for the beginning though, because we could do the tour on our own. Once finished, we talked to him, and after a few moments, our conversation was full force, discussing zwanze, ebay, loerik, and so forth. He opened up a jonge lambic not offered as an "after tour" beer. We bought a few others and enjoyed hanging out. If you are patient and courteous, Jean will talk with you person-person, not brewer-tourist, but don’t come expecting to open Soleil de Minuit or something.
Visiting this authentic, perhaps the most traditional lambic brewer is a must for anyone who enjoys the sour brews that they put out, especially when it’s a 2-minute walk from the Brussels metro. Inside, between 5 and 10 beers should be available for consumption on premises or take-out. Unless you’re well-known, I would not expect to be able to take out anything very rare. We were able to drink a bottled Zwanze, interestingly different from the tap, but it was not to be taken out. I had a great chat with Jean who was very available, interesting and interested. The visit is fun, the old equipment being lighted by natural sources of light through well-spotted windows that made for beautiful light for photography. The woody smell as you step in is also one that you remember forever and adds immensely to the experience. A very fine brewery to visit.
Visited twice already. Once during their special weekend where they offer food pairings with a hell lot of beers, which was amazing. A second time some months later. If the brewer is present, you can get quite some information and questions answered. The rest of the staff is a little less knowledgeable once you start asking more detailed questions about brewing process and technicalities. Both times I visited, they were not brewing, but apparently it’s even more interesting to visit in winter, during the brewing period. I was a bit disappointed in the selection, because usually they only carry about 4 to 6 different bottles, while they make such a huge amount of different beers. That was a bit of a let-down. Other than that, definitely worth to check out, both as a geuze lover or as a first encounter with the Brussels sour ales.
Wonderful place; feels worlds away although it’s just a short walk from Brussels Zuid/Midi railway station and 20-30 minutes from the Grand Place.
The Cantillon Brewery is a mecca for gueuze and lambic lovers. It’s close to the centre of Brussels in a rather seedy area but step inside and you’re transported back in time to an authentic, old fashioned brewery where not much has changed in a hundred years. For a small fee you can have a self-guided tour, with a tasting included at the end. You get a little booklet packed with information and there are numbered stops around the brewery where you can read all about it. Alternatively, you can just sit in the bar area - a wood panelled alcove with a small pot bellied stove and pendant lampshades ingeniously fashioned out of old bottles - and enjoy a bottle or two served in a wicker basket. There’s also a desk set up like a stall at a country fair where you can buy bottles of beer and souvenirs such as t-shirts and the like. The staff are always very welcoming and friendly and the prices are usually lower than anywhere else. Last time we were there it was shortly after Zwanze Day 2011 so, naturally, we had the Zwanze, made from pinot grapes from the Loire this year and more expensive than the usual bottles but still a snip at E14.
(Last visited 27 September 2011).
The museum is far more awesome than this place’s ability to facilitate visiting customers. Definitely worth the visit in order to learn about lambic and gueuze, buy your Cantillon beers elsewhere, though.
Very nice staff, your greeted very kindly, you get a nice history of the brewery when you arrive then you get to go on your self guided tour, cool to see the brewery. Then you come down get you 2 free samples and buy more of other offerings if you desire. The beers are nice, they were sold out of everything but their regular offerings when we were there, but overall very cool