The next General Assembly of Horal, the organisation of lambic brewers, is expecting to see the formal withdrawal from the organisation of two of its 15 members, Girardin and 3 Fonteinen. Rumours, which have been circulating for some time, were confirmed to Belgian Beer & Food by Frank Boon, the current organisation chairman.
By Alan Hope
Horal stands for High Council for Artisanal Lambic Beers (in Dutch, Hoge Raad voor Ambachtelijke Lambiekbieren). It was set up in 1997, the initiative of Armand Debelder, of 3 Fonteinen.
Werner Van Obberghen of 3 Fonteinen said that the brewery and blendery “can no longer find itself” in the values and direction of Horal, although he didn’t wish to elaborate on why they were leaving.
He stressed that the company is not “putting up walls,” and will continue to collaborate with other lambic brewers and blenders. He says they wish to continue to promote and defend the lambic tradition, and that it will support work on a geographical protection of lambic, through its involvement in the Belgian Brewers Federation.
But the news that the brewery wants to leave Horal is ironic, considering Debelder was the initial motivating drive behind its creation.
“I think it’s a shame that breweries are leaving Horal,” says blender Pierre Tilquin. “We’ve achieved a lot and we can do so much more if we focus on the important issues like defending and promoting lambic beer and working to support each other to improve the quality. Personally, I’m quite sad that breweries are leaving.”
Horal Chairman Frank Boon added: “Of course, as I’m president of Horal at the moment I’m feeling a little bit sad, because we started some important stuff, like cooperation with the local government of the province of Brabant for the cultivation of Schaarbeek cherries – we will have cherries growing in rows like wineries, and we’ll be able to harvest them by machine. Today they are extremely expensive and make the beer cost so much that normal people cannot afford it. So we are working there to make beer at correct prices with cherries at the correct price. And also other things like the Tour de Geuze every two years. It’s really sad that they will not take part in 2019, which we are preparing now with all the members.”
Someone else who declines to take part in the Tour de Geuze is Paul Girardin, who runs the highly-regarded brewery with only his wife – the two of them also farm the land round about. Girardin, with some justification, has said he does not have time to deal with visits.
So as things stand, unless Girardin can be convinced to stay with the flock, it looks like two members of Horal will be quitting come the General Assembly in January. The departure of 3 Fonteinen is a certainty, and is already a reality in all but form.
“We’ve discussed it already at some length. I went to see them, Dirk Lindemans went to see them, Pierre Tilquin went to see them to try to convince them not to quit, because a platform for discussion is a nice thing to have. But we haven’t seen them at meetings for two years. If they quit now it’s not a huge surprise.”