It sounds crazy to most to get up early on a Sunday, especially to get on a bus heading out of town to go drink beer. It sure is, but when the place is where we were headed this past Sunday, it’s well worth it. And since “In de Verzekering tegen de Grote Dorst” is only open Sunday mornings from 10 until just after church lets out at 13.30, you don’t have much choice. Unless you’re having a funeral or another special event and book in advance, or it’s one of the few special events during the year that sees them also open, you’ll need to visit on a Sunday morning. It’s the same hours the “Insurance Against the Great Thirst,” as its name translates to, had been running for 51 years when two brothers took it over. Maybe you’re still wondering why it’s so special?
Eizeringen locals, brothers Yves and Kurt Paneels restored the pub to its old glory after taking it over from Marguerite, whom ran it for 51 years. When she decided to finally retire at 85 years old, on Christmas Eve 1999 she’d serve her last beer. The brothers decided they needed to continue the pub’s tradition in this small village and remain open.
The history of the pub is not only what makes it so special, it’s also the beer they serve, as local as the two brothers, lambic, and lambic-based beers such as geuze and kriek. It’s native to the areas of the Senne Valley (Brussels), and Pajottenland, the beautiful, fertile, and somewhat hilly area encompassing Brussels from the South to the West, the region you’ll find the pub. This special beer has earned an international reputation, as has this thirst-quenching gueze pub that breathes history, a sense of place, and tradtion. In his book Good Beer Guide Belgium, (2006 edition, p. 46) Tim Webb states “The bar stocks perhaps the best range of lambic beers on the planet.” It’s not only the brothers that are doing their part to keep their historical, museum-like pub and this oh so special beer alive, it’s their parents, whom also help them out. This is the sort of place that makes you feel right at home, wishing you had this sort of place close to your home.
And if you don’t live close by and can’t visit, at least you can always have them send you some geuze, from The House of Geuze.
As for this incredible beer, empty tasting notes are a must! Typical notes nosed are of wheat, barley, fruit (if it’s a kriek or other fruit infused), cinnamon, summer flowers, and dried summer hay. From the Drie Fonteinen 2007 Geuze pictured below, I surprisingly found warm, baked chocolate fondant! Incredible stuff this spontaneously fermented sour beer.