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'The freshest beer in Brussels': New brewery La Source serves straight from the vat
Until the second half of the 20th century, Brussels was home to more than 100 breweries - but relocations and consolidations reduced that number to one (Cantillon) by the turn of this century.
Now the number is up to about 10 with the latest, La Source, opening in the historic Byrrh building. Byrrh was a popular wine aperitif from the 1890s to the 1960s, available around the world in its heyday. Top architects designed its buildings - and its 1920 production and distribution centre near Tour & Taxis was no exception. The structure has now been completely renovated and given a new name: Be-Here.
With the breweries En Stoemelings and No Science moving in across the way and Brasserie de la Senne and Caulier 28 also setting up in Tour & Taxis locations, the neighbourhood will be one Brussels’ most vibrant brewing areas.
La Source is so named because customers will be drinking beer directly from the source - the taps are connected directly to the 600-litre vats.
"It's the freshest beer in Brussels," says co-founder Mathieu Huygens. "Between customer and vat there is no oxygen, no light, no heat, so the beer is in the perfect state for consuming."
To begin with, they are offering a dozen beers including stouts, porters, a triple, IPAs, a hoppy white and a selection of sours, all with very distinctive tastes.
"We'll have a lot of seasonal beers made with fruit (such as redcurrants) and herbs. For instance we are currently offering a beer named Mauvaise Herbe (French for weed), it’s a gruut but instead of hops we are using yarrow flowers foraged in the neighbourhood."
If you want to take the beer home, they offer two-litre growlers that you can fill and refill. They will also can the beers for you. "We have a smaller canning system so that you can pick a beer you like, we can it directly in front of you, write on the name and you take it home," says Huygens. Cans and kegs will also be available in a select number of bars and cafes.
Contrary to common perceptions, La Source favours cans over glass because of the weight of glass (which creates environmental stresses due to shipping), and because cans preserve the beer better than glass, for instance by keeping the beer completely in the dark.
La Source is sharing its corner of Be-Here with two other fermentation businesses. Fermenthings, which has been teaching Brussels all about the wonders (both of health and of taste) of fermented foods for a number of years, has relocated from Jette, and a third fermentation business Goutzi Kombucha has also moved in.
Between them they have an extensive fermentation library which customers can consult when they visit. And all three businesses are working together to create workshops, food/beer tastings and meetings with small producers.
If your experience with kombucha is limited to the basic black tea version, Goutzi’s raspberry kombucha will be a revelation. So whether you are interested in beer, kimchi, kombucha, sauerkraut, cold smoking or sour dough baking, Be-Here is the place to be.
La Source, open Wednesday to Sunday, 16.00 until late