Moeder Lambic is an emblematic Brussels bar. If you are seeking for new fancy beers or simply traditional Belgian artisanal beers, Moeder Lambic is a must go for you. This weekend they are celebrating their 10th anniversary. For that occasion, 10 birthday parties will happen! Jean Hummler, one of the two owners, sat down with Brussels Express.
Could you please introduce history of the bar?
Moeder Lambic was set up at the beginning of the 80’s and different owners (all of them used to be employees before) have successively run it. We took it over together with a colleague, Andy Mengal, at the end of 2006.
Before that, Moeder Lambic used to work with a big brewery. We had some issues with it and we really wanted to work in a different way and leave the industry. That is why we have decided to work with other partners. We then have been being supplied by small and local producers, such as La Senne or Cantillon. We took the same way with cheese, as we indeed work with Belgian raw-milk cheese producers, although the clients can also purchase comté.
We have only been working with artisans and small producers from Belgium, but also from England, Italy, France or Spain. And we opened another bar in the city centre in 2009. We really were aiming at organising something special for the 10th birthday. We have then asked ten breweries we regularly work with to make a special beer which can age at least five years. This sort of beer of course requires more time to be made. And we finally decided to organise ten birthday parties over a couple of months. Cantillon was the first one, then we had Tilquin, and we have de Ranke tonight (yesterday). That’s a big deal, as de Ranke has never made a beer only for a bar before. On 24 March, La Franche (a French brewery) will also supply us beers. All the beers we have ordered will be on the menu for a couple of years afterwards.
What was the criteria to choose the breweries you work with?
The subjective criteria is the taste. It is of course absolutely subjective, but we do not only choose beers we like. The objective criteria is the way the beer is made. The artisanal and industrial processes are absolutely different. An industrial beer requires 3-7 days to be made, while an artisanal one requires 4-6 weeks. The one we serve tonight has required more than one year, what an industrial company would never do.
We always have had the will to work with artisans and small producers. The relationships are better, as well as quality. We do exactly the same with all the products we sell, such as soda, wine and cheese. We mostly work with local producers, and we also try to get organic products, although it is hard to have organic hop. And we finally do our best to serve affordable products. Some clients do not have any expertise. It is therefore our job, as professionals, to make the best choice as possible in terms of quality and taste.
You also host beer tastings. How does it work?
We indeed host beer tastings, for tourists, Bruxellois, companies or colleagues. We organise workshops and trainings to everyone who is interested to know more about beer. If you want to attend a beer tasting, drop us an email. We basically work with groups of 8-10 persons. Malt & Mout, a Brussels-based organisation, also organises, together with us, beer tastings several times a year.
You are invited to participate even if you are not an expert. I have hosted more than 600 beer tastings since the beginning, so I am able to work both with experts and non-specialists. We can have a three or four-step training over the year, so that the clients really can improve their way to taste beers. It is like wine, tea or coffee, you need time to get used to it.