BierTalk English 13 – Talk with Raf Meert, historian and „The Lambic Mythbuster“ from Brussels, Belgium

Raf Meert is actually an architect, but in his chest also beats a heart for history, especially the history of beer. Over years of painstaking work, he has developed a completely new view of the history of Faro, Lambic and Geuze. In the process, he uncovered many secrets and demystified myths and legends surrounding this fascinating beverage. Of course, you don’t just make friends with that, but Raf has a broad back and a huge amount of expertise, which he lets us share in today’s BierTalk…

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Zusammenfassung auf Deutsch:

Raf Meert ist eigentlich Architekt, hat aber eine Leidenschaft für die Geschichte des Bieres, insbesondere für Faro, Lambic und Geuze. In seinem Buch demystifiziert er Mythen und Legenden rund um diese Biere.

Meert erklärt, dass Lambic ursprünglich als Luxusbier in Brüssel entstand, im Gegensatz zu der verbreiteten Ansicht, es sei ein Bauernbier. Die frühesten Rezepte enthielten mehr Weizen als heute, und die Herstellung war damals anders als die moderne Lambic-Produktion. Interessanterweise bestand Faro vor Lambic, und das ursprüngliche Geuze war einfach ein älteres Lambic direkt aus dem Fass, nicht gemischt oder gemildert. Diese Erkenntnisse widersprechen vielen traditionellen Vorstellungen über diese Biere. Meert betont, dass seine Forschung auf historischen Archivdaten basiert und dass er keine Brauereien besuchte, um seine Informationen zu sammeln. Er erhielt positive Reaktionen auf sein Buch, vor allem von internationalen Lesern. Meert glaubt, dass das Verständnis der Lambic-Geschichte wichtig ist, um die Zukunft dieses Bierstils vorherzusagen​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​.



Markus Raupach: Hello, and welcome to another episode of our podcast BierTalk. Today we have a very special episode because we are together with Raf Meert and he is called the Lambic mythbuster. And that’s very interesting because he just issued a book. And maybe it’s the first one for a long, long time, which really goes deep into the Belgian beer culture and is not relating to the typical traditional stories you read in every other book. So that’s really very interesting. So now I’m curious what he will be telling me. To be honest, I bought the book, I could read about a third of it yet, because reading English is not so easy for me, but I’m getting through. And it’s really very interesting, and I would like to share most of it with you and also Raf will tell a little bit about what he found out. But maybe first you introduce yourself in a short way to the listeners that they know who is the mythbuster.

Raf Meert: So hello, everybody. My name is Raf Meert. I’m 33 years old. I have a master’s degree as an engineer architect. Today I also work as an architect and I am co-owner of a design office specializing mainly in designing public swimming pools, sport accommodations, school buildings. But actually I’ve been interested in history since childhood, primarily local history. And so at the age of 16, I started compiling my genealogy. And my roots on my father’s side are in the south west edge of Brussels, and also in the City of Brussels itself. And yeah, that’s where I started to get interested in history. And I also already research the history of feudal domains, archery guilds and breweries. And so throughout all these years, I became familiar face at the archival repro where they collect those archives and libraries. And so I built up an expertise for historical research in the village, the old village of Brabant also in the City of Brussels itself, in a very natural and informal way, actually. So today, this year, I think it’s my 26th year in archives. It’s what people call a passion. I need to go a couple of days in a year to those archives, going through old documents. That’s my passion.

Markus Raupach: So other people would say, it could have been such a nice life to have swimming pools and sun and maybe a cold beer and all easy. But you like to go deep in the archives and you don’t only drink beer, you also research about beer. But is there a beer like an initiation? Or where did you start drinking beer? Or did it also grab your attention?

Raf Meert: Yes, to make something clear, my main interest is the history. So I’m not into going to beer festivals, trying every new beer that’s on the market. But of course, I like to drink beer. At dinner or in a restaurant, I will prefer a beer over wine. So I really can enjoy a beer. But my main interest is history, as I told, that’s my passion. So when did I get into beer? Actually, my very first beer was a Lambic beer and I remember very well when I drank it. It was July the 15th 1988 on a dreary summer evening. I was eight years old back then. The occasion was the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the local archery guild, and they served raspberry and cherry Lambics from the now closed Alembus brewery here in the village of Schepdaal. So but to make clear the Alembus brand recently restarted, but the historic brewery site has recently been reconverted into lofts. So that evening of the celebration of the archery guild, my brother and I held some mischief and we were able to get our hands on a few glasses of fruit Lambics and we managed to escape our parent’s attention and we snuck to a quiet spot away from the crowds and our parents and empty our prize with great delight. So, at the end of the evening, our parents were surprised to find my brother and myself in a very happy and amusing state. So yeah, that’s my first memory to beer and it was the Lambic beer because I raised in the region of the Lambic beers. So I was born in Brussels and then I grew up in a village called Sint-Pieters-Leeuw. People who know the area a little bit, actually today it’s only a brand that’s left. But I grew up at, I lived at 100 meters from the brewery and then the warehouses. What’s also some of you may know a pub called The Smets van Nijmegen, so it’s traditional. But I don’t know, it’s a correct translation. We call it a brown cafe, brown cafe. So very authentic place and in that time my grandmother was born and raised. So yeah, I’m really into that area of the Lambic production. So it’s always been present in my youth, Lambic.

Markus Raupach: That’s great to hear. And I think it’s also good because now we know you liked Lambic from the first time you tried it. So you are totally out of the idea maybe you want to bash Lambic, so you really like it.

Raf Meert: That’s interesting that you mentioned that because people have sometimes difficulties, you call me the mythbuster. So I say this and this is wrong on Lambic history. But this has nothing to do with the beer itself. For me, it’s telling Lambic’s history correct. It’s for me showing respect for the beer and its history. That’s my main purpose, my main goal. I will not say Lambic is a bad beer, it’s not a good beer. That’s a complete idiot.

Markus Raupach: That’s totally right. And I’m also an historian of restoration and I’ve shared a lot about our traditional beer, which is lager beer in Bamberg. And the area around is more or less the home of that. And just few weeks ago, I had really another very new thing. I learned that lager yeast was not really coming and coming into my area, and then it was there. Now it was a strain, and this came and then it came together with the top fermenting yeast and then it formed, and what we have now today high potential lager yeast, which is a very big difference also in the storytelling, because now we have a link in between. And it’s also interesting, and also people look and think because it’s the same. There are lots of myths and ideas and stories and persons, historical persons, whatever. But maybe, in my view, the Belgium beer history is both old and young. Because if you think of Belgium, it’s a country, it started in maybe 1830 and then you had the bad days with the wars, where a lot of the beer culture was destroyed. And then we had the industrialization and we had the total renewal after World War II. And so everything was like a restart. And I think that made a lot of impact to the Belgium beer culture. And also, what would be interesting for me how it was before when we had more or less this greater Netherlands area, whatever, if there was, was it more a Belgium, or was it more Dutch or French Dutch or whatever, beer culture? So maybe, maybe you tell a little bit about what is the origin. So when would you say we can start to talk about Belgian beer?

Raf Meert: Oh, that’s not so easy question because I’m concentrated on Lambic beers, of course. But something particular is that you talk about Belgian beers, let’s say before mid 19th century, there was a way of defining bears in Belgium, the Netherlands during the Dutch period to make a distinction for beers by the place where they were produced. So every major city in Belgium, Flanders, had its own beer. And yeah, it’s explained by, the pure yeast didn’t exist at that moment yet, explained by the microbiologic environment of each city which was a little bit different. So you have the beers from Leuven beers, Lier, Antwerp. So they have, Mechelen disks, the city where I live now, people could order in a pub, a pub in Brussels, for example, people could order a beer, a Distas beer or a Leuven beer. Yeah, I know what you mean because today, Belgian beer has a certain status and quality level label in it. But I don’t think, for example, in the 19th century, that existed already, except once again for Faro Lambic. Those were beers that were exported even to America at the end of the 18th century. There are references of Faro Lambic in Paris mid 19th century. So, yeah, it was towards the Lambic beers, because, yeah, okay. Maybe it’s because I focused on that. But that’s for sure that Lambic beers were exported to other countries in Europe and overseas.

Markus Raupach: So we could say more or less, that the Lambics and Faro were the first very regional defined beers from what is today, Belgium. So because the other beers are just the top for many beers, which existed everywhere, depending on the water and depending on the yeast and depending on the raw materials. But Lambic was something special, which not existed in other places. Can we say this?

Raf Meert: No, no, it was something very, very, very special. It’s quite amazing or astonishing, surprising to transport exporters beers to America. That’s very, very early in history. So yeah.

Markus Raupach: So how did it start? So because when I read your book, you also say, what we today understand what is Lambic means maybe 30% of wheat and maybe the wood thing and whatever, it’s maybe a modern thing, but it’s not the original thing. So if I would ask you what was the start of this Lambic culture maybe also the place of the start. So, can you tell us a little bit about that?

Raf Meert: To me, that’s the major conclusion of my work to me. It’s always represented as a peasant bear. So that it actually came into being on the countryside. But as far as I can conclude from work in the archives, the earliest reference of Lambic, the name Lambic in the beer context is in the City of Brussels. And that may be difficult to understand because the mainstream theory about Lambic history, there has always been taught that the reference, the connection with Bruegel and his paintings and people working on the field, drinking large amounts of Lambic all day long, that image is not correct, related to the origins of Lambic. Where it was not a common beer, but very clearly a very luxurious beer that cost a lot of money and a worker or workman could not afford Lambic in large amounts, large quantity. So it’s very important to understand that 200, 300 years ago, there was a major distinction between beer for daily consumption on a basic ratio in a way to get enough calories to provide to work and beer that was drunk for pleasure, luxury beers, and so on. And so Lambic was part of that category of luxury beers. That’s something very, very important to understand how Lambic came into being.

Markus Raupach: What did the people drink normally? Which beers then?

Raf Meert: It was a beer that was called white beer. So it was a beer that was not cooked for very long, contained a lot of fermented sugars. Low alcohol, of course. Yeah, that was a very basic beer.

Markus Raupach: Was that what we call Faro now?

Raf Meert: No, that’s another myth or misunderstanding. No. You must understand that during almost the entire 18th century, Faro was the strongest beer brewed in Brussels. That’s why I say we totally need to rethink Lambic history. We need to look in a different way to Lambic history.

Markus Raupach: But there was a connection between Faro and Lambic? Or was it a totally separate beer?

Raf Meert: No, but it’s important to understand that Faro existed already before Lambic. And so in today’s view, the mainstream view, Faro is made from Lambic. So it’s lowered in alcohol. But originally first there was Faro and then beer was brewed stronger, and then they became Lambic. So until the mid 19th century, you can find recipes brewing Faro directly without brewing Lambic and then lowering it in alcohol. So the Lambic came into being. So there is an evolution during the 18th century of brewing beers stronger. Before 1700, there are no references of Faro in Brussels, in the Brussels area. And then at that moment, the strongest beer was called Double because the price, it was a regulated price in the box. And so people had to pay two stuivers for one jar, pot of that beer. So that beer was called Double. That was the strongest beer before 1700. Then first there’s Faro that was stronger than Double. And then at the end of the 18th century, there is Lambic that was stronger than Faro and stronger than Double.

Markus Raupach: So it more or less overtook the Faro. Yes, okay.

Raf Meert: Yeah, yeah, so Lambic is stronger than Faro. Yeah.

Markus Raupach: And guess is there any connection to the place of Lambic or to this airep distilling device, no.

Raf Meert: Distilling device, yes, but not to the village of Lambic, I don’t know, I don’t have any references of, early references because afterwards Lambic was brewed all around the countryside of Brussels. But the earliest references of Lambic as a beer is in Brussels, in the City of Brussels. So that to me, that Lambic village connection, it’s nothing more than a myth.

Markus Raupach: There may be people unhappy with that.

Raf Meert: Yeah, but yeah, that’s difference between myths and trying to reconstruct an historical reality.

Markus Raupach: Yeah, and what about the ingredients? Today we say it’s that quite big pot of wheat. Has that always been the case?

Raf Meert: No.

Markus Raupach: Okay, it’s not for me today.

Raf Meert: No, not the amount of wheat today. Actually, the most original recipes, the earliest recipes dating from 1800, there was even more wheat in it, double as much as today. So today they will say one third of a malted wheat, and two thirds of malted barley. But the most original recipes of Lambic were the opposite, two thirds of unmalted wheat and one thirds of barley malt. And so during centuries, years, the amount of wheat lowered.

Markus Raupach: That’s very interesting because, I heard an a talk of the brewer of Brasserie de la Senne, Yvan, and he said, Okay, maybe there is even a connection between the Berliner Weisse which existed in Germany, and the witch beer, which was in Belgium, because they were maybe similar. And if you look in the Berliner weisse history we also have a huge part of unmalted wheat, and also some sourness. And if we put away the idea of wood, they are really very close together. So maybe there’s, my idea was maybe everywhere they have been maybe more or less barley-based beer and wheat-based beer or mixed beers, whatever, and they evolved in some ways as with modern maltings, and all these things, now we have our today beer styles. But before that was more or less a cloud of beers, which not defined beer styles, because maybe people didn’t think about a beer style, they thought about a beer, which they made with their traditional idea. And if they had to change because there was another grain or whatever then they did, because they didn’t have any other ideas.

Raf Meert: But there’s something also very important what Lambic originally meant in beer history. That is its capability to storage. And so the beers mentioned the white beers, I don’t know how long they kept well. So you can say okay it’s the same ingredients, but all 19th century references will say the same, tell the same. They say do not touch Lambic for two years. You have to leave them in the casks for two years. And I don’t know the comparison to why beers, Berliner Weiße, yeah. It’s the same ingredients but it’s totally different beer I think. What was the purpose of that beer? Because maybe that’s something interesting because those white beers in Belgium came from the most famous is a region of Leuven. So there are references from the 19th century saying that during summer, Faro is too heavy, too strong to drink. So people in Brussels preferred those white beers from Leuven during summer months. So they were transported from Leuven to Brussels to drink it in summer months.

Markus Raupach: So there’s also a connection to sason then? Maybe? No.

Raf Meert: Yeah, yeah, but it was more refreshing. Those white beers were considered more refreshing during summertimes than, Faro was to contain too much alcohol.

Markus Raupach: And where did the name Faro then come from?

Raf Meert: To me Faro, there’s a reference to pharaoh meaning king. And if you can accept that Faro was the strongest beer brewed in Brussels 18th century then Faro was king of the beers. It referred to as strength to me.

Markus Raupach: It’s a nice new story. Maybe it’s true.

Raf Meert: I do not invent that. There are written sources, I think from 1825. The first one telling about.

Markus Raupach: And so, you would say the name of Lambic then is from the distilling device or is there any other?

Raf Meert: Yeah, because if you look at Lambic at the end of the 18th century, it distinguished itself from other beers by its clarity and its strength. So that are two qualities that are related to brandy distilled drinks. So I think that’s where the connection with the distilling device comes from.

Markus Raupach: But not the story about taxation and all these things which was also told that there was a special taxation on distilling devices and then that was taken over by the brewers and things like that. So, okay.

Raf Meert: I don’t think so, no.

Markus Raupach: Alright. And what about the wood? Was there always wood with Lambic?

Raf Meert: Yeah, because when it came into being there was nothing else than wooden casks.

Markus Raupach: So spontaneous fermentation was also always there.

Raf Meert: Yeah, but the difference is that they, if you look at all the references descriptions of the brewing process, they will always especially mention that no yeast was added. So from the coolship directly into the wooden casks. And yeah, that’s something that’s particularly mentioned with Lambic beers, if you look at old brewing manuals or books, something like that, yeah.

Markus Raupach: I was at Rodenbach some months ago, with Rudy and we saw the old cruise ship. And it has that very special shape on the roof, which he told me was made that you can open or close it depending on which beer you brew. And prohibiting an infection of the beer if you close that because of the special shape. Does that also add to the idea you think Lambic was?

Raf Meert: I did not find any references to that, no. I think originally, it was very primitive on the roof, nothing more than that. A wooden, also, we would have, the first cruise ships were wooden.

Markus Raupach: We also have these old wooden cruise ships here in the museum. Mostly they are round in the shape so and of course, what it contained whatever. So yeah, so maybe back to the process of your book. Did you first have the research results? Or did it come also a bit by writing? Or how did the research go? Did you go to the classic Lambic people and had the stories? And then you tried to pass them or how did that go?

Raf Meert: Somebody else we / I think it was two or three months before the release of my book. And I told him I’m writing a book about Lambic. And then he asked me interesting, which brewers did you visit? And I said none. Because to me finding information about history, you have to go to the archives, libraries. That’s where you can find information about the history. So as I told you in the beginning, my passion is that history research thing going to the archive. So I had an amount of, collected some information. So I got a clear view of that line. Okay, this is more or less how Lambic came into being, its history. But then actually, during the writing, I did some extra research because yeah, at the beginning, I did not know where I would end. And I never thought that I would write on it for three years. So I think, okay, it was something, in one year this is finished, but I think okay, it goes a little bit deeper in that and then yeah, okay.

Markus Raupach: And when did you realize that it’s a bit like a minefield, because of so many stories which are connected to today, breweries and brewers?

Raf Meert: There are three major parts in the book. One is about the myth busting, as you call it. So saying it’s an overview of what’s already written or told about Lambic, and then I give some comments on it. The second part is about the earliest final Lambic Gueuze. And then the third part with this, the largest part of the book, it’s about the evolution from the original beers to what it is today. And when I was writing that third part, to me it was clear when this is too much for one man. Because I made some categories where I described the evolution for example, the ingredients the production area, told about spontaneous fermentation, the time, what’s needed to obtain a good beer, a good Lambic beer. So then I realized this is too much. Because on each of those topics, you can write a whole book. And then I realized, Okay, I will give a sort of introduction in all those topics, and then it’s up to others to discuss it or do some further research or to put some entities against it, something like that.

Markus Raupach: Did you have reactions from the brewers, especially those who have their stories busted now?

Raf Meert: No, no. Actually, that may sound very strange to you, or people from abroad, but the interests in this particular aspect of Lambic, so its history, comes from abroad. Yeah, the books are shipped all over the world and people tag me on Facebook, Instagram, they write me personal messages to congratulate me or things like that. But yeah, nothing from Belgium, that’s how it is.

Markus Raupach: It’s a bit sad, but maybe it come.

Raf Meert: That’s how it is.

Markus Raupach: Yeah, one question you just mentioned the topic of Gueuze. Is the relation between Lambic and Gueuze also different to that what we normally think? Or is that true?

Raf Meert: Actually, I write in my book, Gueuze is as old as Lambic. The original Gueuze is just as old as Lambic, because the original Gueuze was nothing more than a Lambic straight from the barrel, nothing added, nothing mixed, not blended. Straight from the barrel with an age three to four years. And so yeah, that’s another, people have some difficulties. The most original Gueuze did not need a bottle. There are plenty of references in the book, stating Gueuze Lambic straight from the barrel.

Markus Raupach: So you could say the most original Gueuze is what we get today as a Lambic.

Raf Meert: You can discuss about the recipes because the amount of wheat was higher, there is also an aspect of the size of the barrels. There’s also the aspect of time. It’s very important, but let’s make abstraction of that. When you visit a Lambic brewer and you go in his barrel room, he goes to the barrel and he serves you a Lambic three to four years old. Nothing added, nothing special. That was the most original Gueuze. Because that’s about what does it mean Gueuze. So Gueuze was a prefix meaning not unprepared, not bland, not sweet and nothing done with it. Something like that. Unprepared.

Markus Raupach: So the historical Lambic was blended or mixed or whatever?

Raf Meert: Yeah.

Markus Raupach: So it was more or less the other way around.

Raf Meert: That’s because today the most I would say, the mainstream view on brewing is you needs to make perfect brews. Your brews may not contain any defaults. Things that aren’t correct in taste or things like that. So the mindset today is brewers have to make good brews in hygienic conditions, everything like that. But if you go to two hundred years back, for example, in time, brewers were not able to make and afterwards they had to remedy those beers. And that’s I call them the ancestor of today’s Gueuze blender. There was some, someone evolved making the beers better. Sweetened them, blended them, clarified them, something like that. There was another process between brewing and serving the beer. And so if Lambic during the two years ago, was blended or sweetened.

Markus Raupach: And when did the switch in these two topics come? Because that’s really interesting that we say, if originally, you had first Gueuze and then you made more or less Lambic out of it. Maybe you had to or you wanted to. And nowadays, it’s more or less the other way.

Raf Meert: Yes, maybe there’s a misunderstanding. So, Gueuze is also, the aspect of time is age. So as I told you earlier, Lambic was brewed and then kept two years in the barrel in the warehouse. At the age of two, the man who was responsible of the barrels, he tasted samples of every barrel and he decided what was the use of the barrel. So it could be blended into Faro, it can be blended and sweetened as Lambic do. So literally sweetened Lambic. It could be sold as what was called bière de coupage. So it was beer, Lambic that was mixed with top fermented beers. And then the last category was the Gueuze. So that beer was kept for another year or two years and that was also, in taste, the less sour assets Lambics.

Markus Raupach: And so it was also the highest quality beer and that may be the reason why it’s today also the highest quality beer.

Raf Meert: There will always be a Gueuze status of higher quality. I call it the resolver of the barrel roop.

Markus Raupach: Which is a nice idea. Great.

Raf Meert: Yeah. So some brewers dated at the end of the 19th century, only 5% of Lambic production makes it to Gueuze. And at that time, but then Faro, large among the Faro bière de coupage, sweetened Lambic, only 5% made it to Gueuze. The switch to the bottle that came into being at the end of the 19th century. So what we call today, traditional Gueuze with the blend of the different ages, that’s a new definition, I would say, at the end of the 19th century. When there was a lot of concurrence by the German lager beers and the English specialty beers. So then in Brussels, the Lambic brewers needed to come up with something new or special and in that period, circumstances Gueuze, what we call today traditional Gueuze, was born or raised. Maybe it already existed. But then that was its breakthrough.

Markus Raupach: Last question about the history thing. Was there a time when it went out of business? And a specific time when it came back? Because as I learned it, it more or less vanished in the 1960s, 70s and then there was…

Raf Meert: I think that, yeah. The beginning of the 1990s, that was really the worst period for those last remaining Lambic brewers and benders.

Markus Raupach: And then it was more or less Frank Boon and the brewery he took over which put it back on the map? Or was it a bunch of people?

Raf Meert: Yeah, I think a bunch of people. Because you have also Cantillon, Jean Pierre always continued, Lindemans also always continued brewing. But the thing is, it was very local. Lambic was drunk most of the local. As I remember from childhood, it was something to me in my memory, it was a glass of nostalgia. It was drunk at special occasions, village festivals, kind of. But in my memory it was not drunk every day.

Markus Raupach: And it was connected with historical brewing processes I think. So still event venue are at Lindemans and you see this medamin construction where they make the brewing or so the old parts of the Boon brewery are in Cantillon, it’s more like a living museum. So that’s really also something connected to old methods of working, brewing.

Raf Meert: To me that something’s very special when you’re referring to the / it’s almost disappeared. You can also look at it as in there were no means or no money to invest. And that’s why we still have those old brewing installations. You can look at it in a different way. But today, it’s something special. That’s true.

Markus Raupach: It’s also very similar to some of our countryside breweries, which are more or less still looking like in the early 1900s. But also, if you go to England, I think this is especially impressive, because in Germany, for example, but I think also in Belgium or France, we had so much destruction during the wars, that they had to rebuild also breweries and they had to invest and innovate and whatever. But if you go to Great Britain and you go to the old England countryside, there are so many breweries which are more or less untouched the last 100, 150 years and they’re still brewing the old way. And then for them, it’s just normal. That’s a very, very big difference to what we find in Central Europe, I think.

Raf Meert: That’s how the idea came into being that Lambic originated on the countryside because that was a situation in the 1970s. I made a map in my book, I think, there were at that moment 24 breweries and blenderies on the countryside and only two or three in the what was then called the agglomeration of Brussels. So Brussels city and 18 suburbs, communities. So yeah, actually by the old Lambic breweries were pushed out of Brussels by making the city more modern, beautiful, things like that. And yeah, that’s why the most authentic breweries are on the countryside today, despite Cantillon, of course.

Markus Raupach: Maybe last question about the book. If I would ask you, what are your three most interesting things in looking back on your work, on your research, what would you say? What are your top three?

Raf Meert: The first thing is, I just said we have to rethink the original Lambic as the peasant’s beer. To me, that’s a completely full idea. Then the second thing, the most original Gueuze, I’m quite certain about that what the definition of that was. And then the third thing, that’s something that I call, you can predict future by looking into the past because history goes up and down. And so today Lambic is back on these sites. But that means that there must go down again. So yeah, that’s something that’s / if you’re looking to history, you can predict the future. That’s what I call that.

Markus Raupach: So you would not recommend to buy shares of Lambic producers now?

Raf Meert: No, no, no. It’s not about that. Now it’s in high demand. Then there will be, if you look into the past, of course. Then there will be an overproduction and then there will be some difficulties to maintain the business. And then, if you look into the past and quality lowered, they did some changes to the production process, and that’s interesting to look how that will evolve in the next, I don’t know, 10 years, 20 years.

Markus Raupach: I think a little bit of that you already see because the prices are varying a lot and also, they are arguing a little bit about that amongst the Lambic producers. And also the idea where’s the original and all these things and new producers which come from.

Raf Meert: If you look at the past month, I think, that of course, they were preparing their releases and things like that. I think, three or even more, larger and smaller Lambic producers. So yeah, we will see what the future will bring.

Markus Raupach: So also the future will bring a new edition of your book with another chapter or something like that.

Raf Meert: Yeah, maybe. Or another topic, completely different historical topic. That will also be nice, I think.

Markus Raupach: Normally, I invite my interview partners to come to Bamberg and to look around. But I think I don’t invite because you destroy our nice myths about our lager beer. No, just joking. Of course you are invited.

Raf Meert: That’s what I told you at the beginning. If you want people to respect what you’re doing, your story, the beers you’re making, especially when it’s an historical beer style, then you also need to respect history. It’s nothing more than that.

Markus Raupach: And I think it’s two ideas of the same thing. So because I’m more historian than beer enthusiasts. So of course, I love beer, and I like beer, and I drink beer and whatever, but I’m not the guy who has to go everyday to the pub and drink five or six beers or whatever. So for me, it’s also more something I like to work with. But I’m more or less work with. But on the other side, of course, normally it’s you look in archives and look for history. But sometimes you have breweries who have a beer, and they need a history. And then it’s more like a commercial work. Then you find or you create history and make a nice story for the beer itself, which is a different way. But that’s also something I was very interested that you mentioned it in the book, because there are many stories in the beer world which only exist because someone like me, maybe, wrote a nice history about a beer before and other people now think that’s real and that’s the original history. And it’s hard to decide which is a makeup and which is an original thing.

Raf Meert: We’re living in difficult times. A few years ago, nobody had heard of something like fake news. Who’s to believe today? That’s really a problem. Where do you find the correct information? The internet?

Markus Raupach: No, that’s also as Wikipedia is something you can change. It’s not so and it is used as other things too. And I think also in the beer world, when we have this old website RateBeer, which was always like a reference, and then it was taken over more or less by a company and then people don’t trust it anymore. So it’s hard. But I think that’s another topic. So if people want to buy your book, they find it at the normal stores like Amazon and or?

Raf Meert: No, only at Cantillon and Drij Fonteinen for this moment, and then there is some interest from distributors, importers in different countries. But I don’t have a complete list of all of them.

Markus Raupach: But there is a website of you where we can contact you?

Raf Meert: Yeah, I need to finish the website. But there’s the Instagram page or Facebook page. And yeah, the book is on the webshop of Cantillon Drij Fonteinen.

Markus Raupach: Okay, so we will put these links in the show notes. And the website, is that Lambic1801?

Raf Meert: That was Lambic1801. That was my research project. But now I have another, But that’s not the name. It’s in the book, in the first page in the book. But yeah, there’s nothing on it so I need to finish it.

Markus Raupach: Not yet. But this podcast will stay on the internet for a while, so we can update the show notes and we will put it in. So thanks a lot for your time, for the information. And thanks a lot for your work and for the respect and also for the toughness to go through that. And for the interest for beer. So for me it’s a very great thing and I will finish the rest of the book and will be happy to learn new things and maybe we come back to you at another occasion and keep on talking about this fantastic beer and its fantastic history.

Raf Meert: Okay.

Markus Raupach: Bye.

Raf Meert: Bye.

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