Cantillon Lambic Vin Jaune
Cantillon Lambic Vin Jaune is a small batch experimental lambic being refined by the brewery through various batches and techniques discussed below. It has had several different names in its history including Lambic / Jaune, Symbiose, La Vie est Belge, and La Vie est Solidaire.
About The Wine
Before talking about the beer, it is important to understand the wine that came out of these barrels. Lambic Vin Jaune is aged in Vin Jaune barrels from winemaker Stéphane Tissot. Vin Jaune, French for yellow wine, is a wine made in the Jura region of France. The wine is produced from Savagnin grapes that are harvested late in the season. During the aging process for the wine the barrels are not topped off and a film of yeast forms over what remains. The wine is left to age for six years and three months before being traditionally bottled in 62cl bottles.
Between the 2011-2012 and the 2012-2013 brewing seasons, Cantillon received freshly emptied and uncleaned Vin Jaune barrels from Stephane Tissot in France. In the May 30, 2013 Basic Brewing Radio podcast, Jean Van Roy discusses this beer: 
- Normally we clean the barrels completely, but for some special experiments, we use the barrels unclean. And we did it last year with, it’s an old dream I had, was to find good barrels from Vin Jaune. So Vin Jaune is this wonderful oxidized wine coming the from the French area, Jura, so near the Swiss border. And like lambic, those wines perform a pellicle to protect the wine from the air present in the barrel. I keep my beer from 3, sometimes 4 years. To receive the name Vin Jaune, so yellow wine, they have to keep their wine during at least 6 years and 6 months, if I remember or 8 months . So my friend Stephane Tissot, a great Vin Jaune producer, bring last year in February, a barrel, fresh emptied and unclean, with some sediment in the bottom. And we finish the barrel so, without cleaning. And the beer is wonderful.
Cantillon used these barrels for two types of experiments.
1) Finishing lambic in the barrel - Lambic that was previously in oak barrels at Cantillon for approximately two and a half years was finished in a Vin Jaune barrel for a little over four months. This experiment was deemed a success, and bottles were served at:
- A 2014 charity fundraiser in California (labeled as Lambic / Jaune)
- A restaurant in Lille, France (labeled as Symbiose) for onsite consumption
- Auctioned for a 2016 charity event in Portland, Oregon (Brews for New Avenues)
2) Wort in barrel - Wort was placed directly into an uncleaned barrel for a maturation period of approximately two years. This experimental batch was bottled but never released, as the test was not deemed successful. The beer was white and viscous. Some bottles were used at a private beer dinner for cooking purposes.
La Vie est Belge 2016
Based on the success of finishing lambic in Vin Jaune barrels, Cantillon reproduced the results in 2016, calling the beer La Vie est Belge. This beer was debuted for onsite consumption at Cantillon Quintessence in May of 2016, served and raffled at the 2016 Brews for New Avenues event, and sold for charity at Monk's Cafe in Philadelphia during the 2016 Zwanze Day festivities. Bottled February 15, 2016, this batch featured lambic that had previously been aged in oak barrels and then finished in Vin Jaune barrels.
A second 2016 bottling of La Vie est Belge occurred on December 27, 2016 (Jean's birthday). This batch combined two barrels of 3 year old lambic finished in Vin Jaune barrels for 9 months with one barrel of lambic wort added directly to Vin Jaune barrels and aged for 2 years. This bottling was also sold in limited quantities online by the brewery as La Vie est Solidaire for the Vendanges Solidaires fundraiser.
As described above, this beer has shown up under a variety of names:
- Lambic / Jaune - This is how the initial experiments were labeled
- Symbiose - This is the first commercial name for the beer. However, because of other beers already using this name, Jean decided not to continue to use the Symbiose name going forward.
- La Vie est Belge - This is the current name for the beer. This name is based on a quote of Stéphane ("La vie est belle") adapted for the "Belgian way of life".
- La Vie est Solidaire - This is a special re-labeling of the batch bottled on 12/27/2016 for the Vendanges Solidaires fundraiser.
The brewery hopes to continue future experiments with Vin Jaune barrels, but due to the scarcity of the barrels, it is unlikely that larger batches will become a regular release for the brewery.
| Bottle date
|Cork Date||Bottle Size||Label / Notes|
|05/26/2014||2014||750mL||Bottle labeled "Lambic / Jaune"|
|xx/xx/2014||2014||750mL||Failed wort experiment bottles, never released|
|10/24/2014||2014||750mL||Bottle labeled "Symbiose"|
|02/15/2016||2016||750mL||La Vie Est Belge - No back label, generally no bottle date, but some bottling dates handwritten on label. Cork reads either 2016 or 15/16|
|12/27/2016||Season 16-17||750mL||La Vie Est Belge - No back label, some bottling dates handwritten on label. Cork reads 16/17|
|12/27/2016||Season 16-17||750mL||150 bottles sold online as "La Vie est Solidaire" for a fundraiser for Vindanges Solidaires".|