Words by Gordon A. Ponce- CEO, BELGIAN BEER JOURNAL
GEUZESTEKERIJ DE CAM and their OUDE KRIEK is our sixth BrewView for our LAMBICS, SOURS, AND WILD ALES feature that carried over into March from February 2016.
We obtained our rare bottle of De Cam’s Oude Kriek from our good friend Stu Stuart of BELGIAN BEER ME! BEER TOURS. It was quite the surprise when we received the bottle in the mail!
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 (whose Oude Geuze we BrewViewed the week before this one). 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
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).
BBJ: We noticed that you produce a “Kriek Lambik” and an “Oude Kriek.” What differentiates the two?
Karel: Oude means, as it’s been made as in the old times. It’s protected by European law. It can only contain two ingredients: spontaneous fermented Lambik from the oak barrels and the sour cherries added in one piece , so no juices or concentrates are allowed. Nevertheless I do Kriek Lambik as well, and I recognize that to be correct it should have the name Oude Kriek Lambik as on the new labels, because it also contains only Lambik and cherries in one piece with stones.
The difference is, Oude Kriek is refermented by adding a bit young Lambik to it for refermentation in the bottle, while the Kriek Lambic is not mixed with young Lambik. I make both, because even carbon dioxide gives another dimension to your beer, so it’s important on what type of beer experience we want to create for the consumers.
Plus, 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. It’s only made when then bad summer bacterias are killed by the COLD WEATHER in wintertime, so there is NO SOUR KETTLE BREWING.
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 Oude Kriekenlambiek
This Geuze with cherries combines the character of a Geuze with fresh fruit and the aroma of cherry stone and even sweetness, it has the delicious taste of a vibrant cherry-champagne.
It is filled in bottles of 37.5 and 75 cl and has an alcohol content of 6.5%.
Bottle date: January 2009
OUR BREWVIEW on Geuzestekerij De Cam – OUDE KRIEK
APPEARANCE / THE POUR:
6.5% 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 50°F. Pours a brick color with a pink hue. SRM value, 9-10. The dense, faint pink colored head poured a 2- finger height, with large and small bubbles (we did ensure that it was a “Beer Clean” glass). Because of the acidity of the beer, the head collapsed quite quickly. (This picture was snapped within seconds of pouring the Oude Kriek into the glass.) The rim variation color is a deep gold.
There was nice gentle bubbling in the beer as we held it up to the light. The meniscus is medium rising. We did not rouse up the sediment in the initial pour, as to experience the overall complexities with and without it in the glass. It did have a slight cloudy haze to it, and after 3-4 minutes of pouring it, the head collapsed completely.
AROMA / BOUQUET:
When we opened up the bottle, we could smell heavy cherry stone and cask aromas immediately. You also get aromas of balsamic fig glaze, cranberries, and super brett funkiness. Horse blanket, musty, wet hay.
BAM! This one knocked our socks off in the classic Lambic sour / tartness level and acidity. This is not just a super pucker, but an ULTRA PUCKER! We absolutely love extreme beers like this. Super high levels of cherry stone mixed with wood and brett flavors.
MOUTHFEEL / PALATE:
Medium bodied, this beer livens up the taste buds and olfactory senses immediately!! Upon first sip, the sourness level hits the sides and the back of the mouth, and the sourness lingers quite strongly. The flavors of cherry stone and wood invite you to take that next sip- dare we say it, the beer screams at you and says, “drink me!”
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…
If you are not prepared for the extremity of this beer, it will shock you. For fans of extreme beers (like us) will love this beer!
Not for the timid… In fact it warns the unsuspecting on the label- “NIET ZOET” (not sweet)!
It is so refreshing to witness the ancient art of Lambic blending as witnessed by Karel and Geuzestekerij De Cam. We can only imagine what it would be like to sample the Lambics directly from the wood cask.
Being one of the smallest (in terms of total barrel output) Karel blends his Lambics in an old-fashioned, and uncompromising way. That is the main reason why his are 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 it.
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 Kriek (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. Our bottle was 7 years old and still had a ton of vibrancy to it. This is a world class, must have beer. 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 bottle of De Cam Oude Kriek! If you haven’t been on one of Stu’s great beer tours, you owe it to yourself to go!
Christopher Barnes from I Think About Beer for providing online research material and more inspiration for this BrewView.
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 Lambic beers! 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