Rodenbach brewmaster Rudi Ghequire has worked with the famed brewery in Roeselare, Belgium, since 1982. He grew up in Roeselare, so he knew about Rodenbach from an early age. The brewery was family-run for generations and became part of the Palm Breweries family in 1998. Roedenbach famously utilizes foeders (oak fermentation casks) and mixed fermentation to achieve their revered results. I recently met Ghequire at Library Alehouse, as he was in L.A. to promote the re-release of Alexander, a version of Grand Cru brewed with sour cherries that was last available in 2000. Learn more about this Belgian brewing titan.
JL: Did you always plan to brew beer, or did you consider other careers?
RG: My idea was to do something with food. I wanted to specialize in food because food was one of my most interesting things.
JL: Do you cook a lot?
RG: I’m also the cook at home. I’m also the home baker. I’ve made beers at home. I grew up on a farm, so we slaughter our pigs ourselves. I grew up with that. My mother always made bread herself. We made butter. We had cows.
JL: What’s the first beer you ever brewed, and how did it turn out?
RG: I started working in the brewery, and afterwards I specialized in brewing. When did I brew my first beer at home? Six years ago as a tryout for my son.
JL: Who did you look to for guidance, inspiration or advice when brewing?
RG: I started in Rodenbach in 1982, so my teacher, my mentor at the time, was Jacques Lambert. He was a brew engineer and he succeeded his father. His father Leon Lambert started in 1925 at the brewery, just after the first World War, and he stayed there until 1960. He was a brew engineer and also general director of the brewery. His son succeeded him until 1982. I was enlisted by the brewery to replace him.
JL: What were some of the most important lessons that he taught you?
RG: Consistency. Knowing your product. Knowing your brewery. Knowing your technical issues. If you have a problem, you can help yourself.
JL: Has there ever been a batch of beer that you refused to release to the public?