We purposely waited 5 months to bring you this BrewView. We obtained our rare bottle of De Cam’s Nectarine Lambiek from our good friend Stu Stuart of BELGIAN BEER ME! BEER TOURS back in June 2016. He actually visited the De Cam blendery on April 25, 2016, when they had released their newest fruit lambic.
When Stu obtained this bottle for us, it was from the very first batch. Master blender Karel Goddeau advised him that the bottles he and his tour group purchased of the Nectarine Lambiek were the VERY first to head to the United States. This bottle was so new, it did not even have a label on it!
Karel also advised Stu that the flavors in this particular bottle would be best in 6 months from that April day. So when we received this bottle in June, Stu passed along the advice to us. It had been 45 days since he obtained the Nectarine Lambiek, and we originally decided to until late October to BrewView it, which would have been 6 months from April 25th. However, other events came up, and we decided to delay the BrewView for 3 more weeks.
Since we had waited for 5 months to try it, we decided to visit Rate Beer to see what others were saying about it beforehand. As of November 19, 2016, there were only 48 individual ratings on the De Cam Nectarine Lambiek- mostly drinkers from the USA and the UK. We also took into account the DATE in which they posted their ratings. One person commented on the amount large amount of yeast sediment in the bottle… yep, our bottle was the same.
So given what we read, our expectations were very high when we finally got the chance to taste it for ourselves…
ABOUT GEUZESTEKERIJ DE CAM
GEUZESTEKERIJ DE CAM was founded in 1997, and is one of a small handful of Lambic blenders that still remain in Belgium. Karel Goddeau, an aspiring brewer, joined De Cam in the beginning, and eventually bought it in 1999. The timing could not have been more perfect: Karel had previously finished his studies at Gent University / Fermentatio when the open door to become an entrepreneur in the Belgian Lambic industry presented itself.
Before Karel purchased De Cam, he connected with Armand DeBelder of 3 Fonteinen. DeBelder showed Karel the art of Geuze blending; a skill that he would put to good use later.
Goddeau found a secondary job at DeProef brewery (Lochristi, Belgium) to heighten and sharpen his brewing skillset, and to help ends meet. Lochristi is a province of Gent, not far from Karel’s brewing school. However, the 58.6 km commute between DeProef and De Cam did not allow the time needed to truly hone his craft at the blendery. Out of necessity, Karel found a brewing job at Brouwerij Slaghmuylder in Ninove (famous for their WITKAP PATER line of beers) thus the shorter commute between his new job and De Cam allowed for more time and energy for Karel to put towards making great Lambic beer.
Looking back, Goddeau took a great leap of faith in purchasing his new blending venture since it came at a time when interest in traditional Lambic beer was at an all time low, and nearly disappeared from the Belgian beer landscape altogether. However, thanks to concerted efforts of Belgian groups dedicated to the preservation of this ancient beer style, Lambic beer is enjoying a huge resurgence of popularity again.
THE STORY BEHIND THE DE CAM LABEL
My most recent conversation with Karel reinforced the fact that he is BEYOND passionate about preserving the traditions and heritage of Lambic brewing and blending. Much of the excerpts below are from my conversation with him back in March 2016, with some updated info for the Nectarine Lambiek.
– Gordon A. Ponce, CEO of Belgian Beer Journal
BBJ: Karel, can you tell us Americans the meaning of the name De Cam?
Karel: a Cam… We have TWO in Gooik, Oude Cam and Nieuwe Cam. De Cam in Gooik is already mentioned in 1515 ” des Heerens lands- camme” – translated de Lords of de Cam- and again in written documents in 1705 as Brewers-farmers De Cam- De Gottignies with hopfields beside the brewery.
A Cam, (Kam) is an old Flemish word for “brewery farmer,” so people worked for the lords in summertime, and in wintertime the lords asked them to work in the brewery when it was freezing to make spontaneous fermented winterbeer: Lambiek. Instead of reciving money, they got Lambiek for the whole year for the labor on the fields. There are lots of streets and families called Vander cammen, Verkammen, Korte kam straat, Kleine Cam straat, in Flanders, not only Pajottenland, but even in Antwerp city.
BBJ: Can you explain a bit more about the Gooik coat of arms logo used on the De Cam labels?
Karel: The 3 hammers, (which are still visible in the stone bricks of the main house and barn) were the weapon shield of the Lords of de Cam brewery (family name- de Gottignies, besides the church they still have their grave).
DE CAM NECTARINE LAMBIEK – AS DESCRIBED BY KAREL GODDEAU
BBJ: So as you know, Stu Stuart of Belgian Beer Me! Beer Tours of Belgium visited your blendery back in April 25, 2016. The bottle he sent me has no label. What can you share with me about this bottle of lambic I have?
Karel: Stu got a bottle with no label from the very first batch. The first batch was actually a blend of 65% Nectarines from Spain, and 35% White Peaches from Flanders-Pajottenland, Belgium. We made assemblage in the Summer of 2015. It fermented for 10 months, 2 of those months in Oak foeders.
BBJ: Why did you choose Nectarines specifically from Spain?
Karel: We compared the fruit available, and judged on flavor, sugar content, and capacity to assemblage with the best lambic available at that moment.
BBJ: It’s great to see the passion you have for spreading the gospel of lambic beer. What else would you like people to know about De Cam and the traditions of lambic blending?
Karel: First off, I never add any yeast or sugar to the beer for fermentation or refermentation in the bottle… it’s completely SPONTANEOUS, it’s also not a “sour beer”, it’s LAMBIC. People should be more concerned about traditional spontaneous fermented lambic of our region, which should be protected by UNESCO. People should realize that there are more than 90 different wild yeasts involved. Lambic is brewed only during the coldest nights in wintertime.
On the famous paintings of Breughel, people were drinking our traditional healthy Lambic of Pajottenland – Flanders – Gooik. Lambic is very fragile and takes up a lot of flavors. It is a very intense, long and expensive production method. Also, we are stubborn brewers. It’s the only reason we are only left with a few, out of hundreds. We fought like Don Quixote against windmills… we try to survive, and are proud of our heritage.
WHERE TO ENJOY THE DE CAM LAMBICS IN GOOIK
45 feet across the courtyard is VOLKSCAFÉ DE CAM. The restaurant / café offers a range of local beers and dishes such as Lambic, Kriek Lambic and Gueuze from De Cam. They offer their customers the option to have some cherries to compare with the beers, depending on taste and according to brewery origin. In addition to their food and drinks, one can enjoy some old bar games as well. (Source: Volkscafé De Cam)
VOLKSCAFÉ DE CAM: http://DeCam.info
BEER STYLE AND COMMERICAL DESCRIPTION
Style category: Belgian Nectarine Lambiek
Our new release from Spring 2016… De Cam Lambiek with Nectarines.
It is filled in bottles of 75 cl and has an alcohol content of 6%.
OUR BREWVIEW ON GEUZESTEKERIJ DE CAM – NECTARINE LAMBIEK
APPEARANCE / THE POUR:
6% ABV. Poured into a beveled tumbler glass (we tried to find a glass similar to the classic beveled tumblers used in Belgium to drink Geuze and Lambic beer from) and served at 45°F.
Uncorking the bottle was a bit of a challenge, but we did finally open it! It poured with virtually no head whatsoever. The appearance when poured looks like filtered apple cider.
There was some bubbling on the sides of the glass (we did ensure this was a “beer clean” glass) and the thin bubbling stream came from the middle of the glass as well. The color is between an SRM value of 4-5 (Pale Gold). Rim color variation- color is the same, no variance. The meniscus is fast to medium rising. In subsequent pours (with a forced thin stream into the middle of the glass) there was a champagne-like bubbling that lasted for about 5 seconds, but then quickly dissipated.
There was also a tremendous amount of yeast sediment at the bottom of the bottle- in one area, it was 1/4″ thick! We tasted it without the yeast, and then towards the end, we roused up the yeast, and dumped all of it into the final glass pour. (There is a picture of the “yeast dump” below.) As you know, we love yeast in our beer! The post yeast dump version looked like unfiltered apple cider…
AROMA / BOUQUET:
When we opened up the bottle, we could smell foeder wood, extremely faint Sulfur / Butyric Acid / Ethyl Butyrate brett funkiness. You get a nice cut of Nectarine and Peach stone, along with the classic horse blanket, musty, wet hay aromas. As the beer was exposed to the air, citrus bouquets began to develop (lemon, grapefruit). POST YEAST DUMP: The brett / wet hay / very wet horse blanket aromas increase nicely.
Right off the bat, you’ll experience the trademark sourness / tartness that all De Cam lambics are known for. There is a pronounced Nectarine and young Peach flesh and skin flavor. There is also a great mix of lemon and wood. The brett behind it gives it almost a borderline “Oude Geuze” taste, but the fruit stone flavors remind you that it is still a fruit lambic. POST YEAST DUMP: Wow- for those who like this much yeast in their beer, there is a very strong brett flavor that overtakes the citrus flavors in a great way.
MOUTHFEEL / PALATE:
Light to medium bodied, the mouthfeel is a bit softer than the De Cam Oude Kriek that we BrewViewed back in March 2016. The tartness does linger, but not as strong as the Oude Kriek. The astringency / effervescence level is moderate to high. POST YEAST DUMP: The descriptions here carry over, but intensify.
FOOD PAIRING SUGGESTIONS:
APPETIZERS, ENTRÈES AND DESSERTS: We would be remiss in not suggesting to check out the menu from the VOLKSCAFÉ DE CAM!
They have regional and specially prepared dishes that pair perfectly with all the De Cam Lambics. So many great offerings available…
Again we say, If you are not prepared for the authenticity of this beer, it will shock you. For fans of extreme beers (like us) you will love this beer!
Even so, the drinkability factor is very high for this style of beer. Tasting the De Cam lambics is what they must have tasted like in the days of Pieter Bruegel the Elder.
Being one of the smallest (in terms of total barrel output) Karel Goddeau blends his Lambics in an old-fashioned, and uncompromising way. That is the main reason why his continue to be rated as some of the best in Belgium, and in the world. True Lambic is his religion as he states, and no one will ever convert him from spreading that gospel.
The De Cam Lambics are normally hard to find outside of Belgium. However, Karel advised us of an online store called Etre Gourmet that ships the De Cam Lambics (along with many other Belgian beers) globally.
If you can get your hands on the De Cam Oude Nectarine Lambiek (either by visiting them in Gooik, Belgium or ordering through Etre Gourmet) do it! Buy as many as you can- cellar some and drink some now, as sufficient time has passed for the flavors to develop from the first batch. This is another world class, must have, for lambic devotees. Seek it out for sure!
Our sincerest thanks go out to the following people:
Stu Stuart from Belgian Beer Me! Beer Tours for your generosity and kindness in sending us this rare bottle of De Cam Nectarine Lambiek! If you haven’t been on one of Stu’s great beer tours, you owe it to yourself to go!
And of course, Karel Goddeau from Geuzestekerij De Cam for your time in providing the detailed information about the village of Gooik, your blendery, and your Nectarine Lambiek beer. Dank u!
GORDON A. PONCE is the main driving force behind Belgian Beer Journal.com. Since 1983, Gordon recognized that beers from Belgium were special, set apart from the typical craft beer.
He views beers from Belgium (plus Belgian-style and Belgian Inspired beers from other countries) great examples of the brewer’s art. Gordon and his wife live in beautiful Northern California- a great place to enjoy Belgian beer! Ecclesiastes 8:15