Geuzestekerij De Cam is part of the new vanguard of blenders reviving the ancient tradition of Lambic blending. Founded in 1997 by a Palm Brewery executive who talked the mayor of Gooik of supporting the revival of Lambic blending as part of the cities cultural heritage and revival. Unfortunately, his duties at Palm became too intense to allow him the proper time and energy to continue this project so he began looking for someone to carry on the project. This is where Karel Goddeau enters the story.
Karel was finishing his schooling where he was studying to be a brewery engineer. By chance he stopped in at De Cam to pick up some Geuze and met Willem Van Herreweghen (our Palm exec.). Willem helped his new friend by setting him up at 3 Fonteinen. There, two great things happened: Karel taught Armand Debelder (3 Fonteinen’s owner) about brewing, and Armand returned the favor by teaching Karel how to manage the wood cellars and blend Lambics.
Once Karel graduated, he got a job at Proef Brouwerij to help pay the bills while he helped Willem at De Cam. In 1999, Willem offered to sell the whole operation to Karel who jumped at the opportunity. Unfortunately, Karel had to get a new job closer to Gooik to allow him the time he needed to work his Lambic stocks. He ended up meeting Michel Slaghmuylder at a seminar and began working at Brouwerij Slaghmuylder, brewer of the famous Witkap Pater beer. This allowed Karel the ability to work at Slaghmuylder during the day so he could work his Lambics in the evening.
Karel Goddeau does everything at De Cam, including his own coopering where he maintains the large wooden vessels that were acquired from Czech brewery Pilsner Urquell. The only thing he’s not doing at De Cam is brewing. As mentioned earlier, De Cam is a Geuze blender meaning he buys cooled wort from other Lambic breweries. In De Cam’s case, wort is delivered from Boon, Lindeman’s, and Girardin, with a little bit even coming from 3 Fonteinen.
Oude Lambiek is not a blend, like Oude Geuze, but a straight Lambic with a minimum of 3 years of aging. Another difference is that Oude Lambiek is virtually still. There is a light sparkle, but no where near the carbonation of a Geuze. This is a highly rare style to be bottled, let alone shipped to the US.
Appearance: Murky copper-gold, No head, No retention.
Aroma: earthy, bitter apple, sherry vinegar, apricots, vanilla, cider, pepper, peach pits.
Taste: Earthy, lemon seeds, peel, vanilla, lemon, grapefruit, spicy finish.
Overall Impression: Oude Lambiek is sour and bitter with a long finish. The mouthfeel is round with a really nice acidic bite. This is an impressive beer. However, it did take me a few sips to get used to the fact that it’s virtually still. Once you get used this departure from modern beer, it’s an absolutely complex and wonderful beer. The depth keeps unfolding as it warms and opens up. I’ve tried straight unblended Lambic directly out of a one of the barrels, but this is the first straight Lambiek I’ve tried as a finished product. If you’re a fan of sour beers, this should definitely be on your list of beers to try. I wouldn’t recommend it to someone who is new to sours though, it’s too limited, expensive and unique. Take your time with this one, savor it.
Availability: High limited. Only 1,500 bottles in the US. Imported by Vanberg & Dewulf.