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Hanssens Artisanaal

Hanssens Bartholomeus, former major of Dworp, started to brew lambic in 1871, in the previous Sint-Antonius brewery. Documents have proven that he continued to brew, from 1896 onwards, in buildings located in the Vroenenbosstraat, Dworp. These premises are still used.

Nowadays, Hanssens Artisanaal is directed by Sidy Hanssens, daughter of Jean, the fourth generation in this family's tradition. It has to be noted that Bartholomeus started as a lambic brewer, but after World War I, when the Germans took all the cupper brew material to produce war equipment, he, like many others at that time, had to continue as a blender.

 

The most significant difference between a geuze blender and a geuze brewer is that a geuze blender buys wort (lambic wort) of lambic brewers and does not brew the lambic by his own. A geuze brewer only works with its own lambic whereas a blender works with different lambics.

Thirty or forty years ago, this unique art of blending was done by plus minus forty blenders. Nowadays there is only one independent blender left. Hanssens Artisanaal (Sidy, her husband John and father Jean), still blend the same way the family did one hundred years ago, using almost the same material, which requires a lot of skill and effort. It has to be remarked that Sidy and John, besides this both still have another full-time job. This makes them financially independent of the brewery thus giving them the opportunity of making a traditional product without being driven by market demanding quantity over quality. Lambic wort is brewed from water, barley malt, unmalted wheat and over aged hops. No yeast is added to the wort. During the one night cooling process, the wort is being exposed to the open air. The result of this method is that wild airborne yeasts come into the wort and will start the fermentation on a natural and spontaneous way. Note that lambic wort is only brewed during winter. In summertime, there are too many undesirable bacteria that can have a negative effect on the fermentation. The spontaneous fermentation is the mystery of the lambic beers and is unique in the beer world. It only happens in the Zennevallei in a radius of twenty kilometers around Brussels.

Lambics:

Note that the words lambic or geuze are not yet used. This will now be explained. Mention also that from now on the work of a geuze brewer and a geuze blender continues in a parallel way. The inoculated wort is pumped into old oaken barrels where the fermentation can start. The microenvironment of the se barrels contributes to the specific flavour of the lambic.

 

After a few days, depending on the weather, the spontaneous fermentation starts. The principle fermentation of the wort is passing to a cascade of other smaller fermentations and finally there is the maturation of lambic, which can take up to 3 years. The spontaneous fermentation by altogether some eighty-six different micro organisms, followed by the maturation in oaken barrels, give the se beers their unique taste and flavour.

Gueuze:

A regulation of the European Community, dating ninety-seven, defines a difference between geuze and old geuze. The name old refers to the way of making a geuze and is synonym for traditional. It has nothing to do with age. The blending of old and young pure lambic is the traditional way of making Geuze. Old geuze is made of one hundred percent lambic beer, which undergoes an additional fermentation in the bottle resulting in the natural formation of foam and carbon dioxide.

 



Hanssens Artisanaal still uses the barrels originating from the first generation.

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