Cantillon Grand Cru Bruocsella
Cantillon Bruocsella Grand Cru is a bottled old lambic released annually by Cantillon in various batches. It is one of the few examples of unadulterated lambic released in bottles by any commercial lambic producers. The lambic is matured for three years in oak barrels and bottled. Bruocsella Grand Cru is commonly available in 75cl bottles as well as 37,5cl bottles on occasion. It was also released in 1,5L magnums in early 2016 at the brewery. The beer has no carbonation at bottling and will generally remain that way; however, older bottles are known to have exhibited lively carbonation. The brewery aptly compares this vieux lambic to a fine white wine in its appearance and taste. In fact, early labels for Bruocsella Grand Cru suggest serving it and storing it like a wine.
History / Other Notes
The first documented bottling of Bruocsella Grand Cru was circa 1983. Labels from the 1980's are presented in the label log, making the Grand Cru Bruocsella very old in the Cantillon lineup. The early label states that Grand Cru Bruocsella should be tasted and served in the same manner as a fine white wine. The labeling has changed slightly over time, and there are three main versions presented here. Between at least 1984-1990 a black label was used for the lambic. This version is no longer used and Bruocsella is labeled differently depending on if it is being exported to the United States or being sent to the rest of the world. The Label used in Europe is the Grand Place label, created by Raymond Goffin for the 1998 vintage. The U.S. imported version features the painting The Peasant Wedding by Flemish Renaissance painter Pieter Bruegel. European-labeled Bruocsella is generally stated with a vintage date that is three years earlier than the cork date; however, many U.S versions do not contain a vintage date. To that end, one can assume that if they have a U.S. bottle with a 2004 cork date, then it is more than likely to be a circa 2001 brew date. The three year rule is only a general time-frame, as bottles of Bruocsella can show as few as two years or as many as four years between vintage date and cork date.
It should be pointed out that there is no difference between the U.S and European versions. The labeling differences stem from different requirements by the United States versus the European Union in calling something organic. Cantillon currently does not meet U.S standards, but notes on its website that it has used 100% organically grown grain for its lambics since 1999.
Origin of the Name Bruocsella
In Gueuze, Faro, et Kriek, author Raymond Buren discusses the origin of the word "Bruoc-Sela". He notes that the village of Bruoc-Sela was founded in 979 when Charles of France, Duke of Lower Lorraine established a fort on a small island in the Senne River. Indeed, the city of Brussels officially held its first millennial celebration in 1979. However, the name appears over 200 years earlier in the historical record when Saint Vindicien, Bishop of Arras and Cambai passed away in the village of Bruc-selle in 706. Sociolinguist Michel de Coster notes that the word bruoc most likely derives from the Celtic word meaning a swampy or marshy place, while the word cella comes from the Latin term meaning temple, owning to the various Roman ruins in the area at the time. Thus the area around present-day Brussels became known as Bruoc-selle or Bruoc-sella, depending on the year or text, eventually evolving into the French Bruxelles. This is further evidenced by two other etymological developments in old Dutch wherein the word broek at one time meant brook or marsh and zele meant settlement. In the Flemish-Dutch dialect, Broekzele still exists as a rare word to refer to the Belgian capital of Brussels. In the end, Bruocsella Grand Gru is the Brussels Grand Cru.
1996 Label Text (Translated)
Cantillon Grand Cru is a still, uncarbonated beer aged three years in oak barrels and selected for its exceptional color, aroma, and taste. Ageable beer. It is advised to serve the Grand Cru in a wine glass. Beer of changing taste. Store and serve at cellar temperature (12-15deg)
2006 Label Text (Australia - Phoenix Beer Importers)
The Lambic Grand Cru Cantillon is like a cereal-based wine. It is a Lambic that has matured for three years in oak wood casks and has been selected for its unique color bouquet and aroma. It has a very long shelf life. This lambic is made with organically grown wheat (35%) and malted barley (65%), and with dried hops.
It should be served in a wine glass at a temperature of 12° - 15°C. Store in a cool cellar. Beer with taste evolution.
- https://www.cantillon.be/grand-cru-bruocsella-en Cantillon - Bruocsella Grand Cru
- Raymond Buren, Gueuze, Faro, et Kriek, 1992
- Michel de Coster, Les Enjeux du Conflit Linguistique : Le Français à l’Epreuve des Modèles Belge, Suisse et Canadien, 2007