Tim Webb is best known for his book Good Beer Guide to Belgium and Holland, which is widely considered to be the best guide covering all aspects of the Belgian beer scene. With the just released LambicLand, he and co-authors Chris (“Podge”) Pollard (who runs beer tours to Belgium from his native England) and Joris Pattyn (a well respected Belgian, who has been researching beer for over 25 years) attempt to do the same thing for the lambic brewing regions of Belgium.
They succeed, as the book will indeed be a bible for anyone visiting these areas of Belgium. LambicLand should also be very interesting for the beer enthusiast learning about the history and possible future of lambic brewing and the special cafés found in the Payottenland region and beyond.
Due to new regulations from the European Union and overzealous bureaucrats who interpret these rules, lambic brewing has been under threat recently. The book begins with a foreword from a member of the Flemish Parliament, Sven Gatz, who is fast becoming a champion of traditional lambic brewing.
The authors then delve into the lambic brewing process, and discuss all the different types of lambic beers. This is done in a very straightforward and easy to understand way, so novices will be able to follow along with ease.
The nine remaining lambic breweries are covered, with all available contact information listed. All their known beers are discussed and most are given a rating on a five-star scale. A short history is also given for each brewery.
The authors also give details on bicycle, bus, auto and train transport in the Payottenland and Brussels, which is very helpful. In addition, hotel and other accommodation possibilities are discussed.
The special cafés serving lambic brews are covered in detail. Each entry lists which lambic beers a café stocks, both in bottled and draft form, as well as the number of non-lambic brews offered. The known opening days and hours are listed, as well as detailed directions on how to find the café.
Food is also well covered. The authors tell the reader of the cuisine offered for each café, which for the Payottenland can range from simple sausages to world-class beer cuisine with multi-course meals.
There is also a section on specialty cafés in Brussels and East Flanders, which carry a large number of lambic beers. The world-renowned Cantillon brewery in Brussels is covered in detail, as are all its brews. Beer museums and brewery visits are also discussed, as is where to buy lambic beers to take home. LambicLand also has many good color photographs.
The book, which is privately published, is only available through this website:
www.booksaboutbeer.com. Cost is $14.95, postage paid to the U.S. (less if multiple copies are ordered).
The passion of the authors for the subject is obvious and infectious. This book is their effort to help save the world’s oldest beer style (and the special cafés that serve it) from extinction. I hope they succeed, as these complex brews deserve to survive.