Boon Brewery in the Belgian village of Lembeek on the banks of the River Senne can trace its origins back to 1680, when a certain J. B. Claes purchased a farm and converted it into a brewery and distillery. Lembeek is considered by many the architypical home of the Belgian sour beer style called lambic and its derivatives. In fact, according to one theory, the name “lambic” is simply a mispronunciation of Lembeek. According to another theory, however, lambic is a mangled form of “alembic,” the French word for a pot still. At one point in the 1800s, there were more than 40 breweries in operation in Lembeek, and many of them were distilleries as well. The Claes Brewery changed hands in 1860 and was renamed Brasserie de Saint Roch, which, 15 years later, bottled its first Gueuze, a blended lambic style. A malt house was added to the brewery in 1890. In subsequent decades the premises were subdivided and sold several times until, in 1977, Frank Boon, a commercial blender and marketer of Gueuze, purchased the site and renamed it Brouwerij Boon. In 1986, Boon moved his operation to a new site in the center of Lembeek, where he installed a modern brewhouse and cellar. In 1990, he entered into a 50/50 joint venture with the Belgian Palm Brewery, and in October of that year, he finally produced his first batch of his own lambic. Within the 2 decades since, annual production at Boon has increased from a mere 450 hl (383 US bbl) the first year to well over 11,000 hl (9,374 US bbl). Because lambics and their derivative styles are well-aged beers, the amount of lambic held in oak barrels at Boon at any one time exceeds 1 million l (approx. 8,522 US bbl), which is reputed to be the largest stock of lambic anywhere. Today, the Boon portfolio includes just about all varieties of lambic beer. Among these are the Champagne-like, 2-year-old Oude Geuze Boon (Boon has his own unique spelling of the word “Gueuze”), the select Geuze Mariage Parfait, the Faro Perte Totale made from half young and half old lambic with the addition of candi sugar and spice, the Kriek Boon and Oude (traditional) Kriek Boon cherry lambics matured in large oak foudres, the Framboise Boon raspberry lambic, and the dark, hop-aromatic, and slightly coffeeish Duivels Bier (devil’s beer), which is brewed with dark malt and candi sugar. The Boon beers are largely traditional, if not as bone dry as most lambic enthusiasts would have them; the beers featuring the prefix “Oude” are more concentrated and avoid the modern sweetness.

See also framboise, kriek, lambic, and palm breweries.