Posting on Facebook earlier this week, Brussels beer bar Moeder Lambic announced that it would cease the sale of beers from Brasserie de la Senne as soon as its current inventory is depleted. The news came as a surprise to some, as the bar had stocked beers from the Brussels brewery across its two sites for 11 years. Moeder Lambic’s current owners, Jean Hummler, Nassim Dessicy, and Andy Mengal signed the note, which drew a considerable amount of response, both positive and negative, across various social media platforms.
WHY IT MATTERS
This event is perhaps not as significant as it may feel to fans of both Moeder Lambic and Brasserie de la Senne. It is far from unusual for a bar to drop a brand from its range, or a brewery to cease supplying its beer to a bar. However, when the parties involved happened to be two of the most influential heavyweights of the Brussels beer scene, you can be certain that sparks will fly.
The Facebook note, which was originally published in French, had more than just a hint of the passive aggressive about it. “In the last 3 years, the human link between us has gradually disappeared and we have become a simple customer number,” it stated. It then expressed disappointment at the discovery of a supposed exclusive beer that had also been sold into other retailers.
“This is not our first disappointment, but this will be the last for us,” the note continued. “We are not "at war" with the Senne Brewery and wish them good fortune for the future.”
The tide of Facebook comments that inevitably followed expressed support for both parties, with some sitting firmly on the fence, with others declaring their loyalty toward either party.
“We can only understand this decision. Congratulations to you for having the guts to do this and send a strong message to the Senne Brewery,” expressed one user in support of the bar.
Meanwhile, another user did not see eye to eye with Moeder Lambic’s statement:
“You obviously have the right to change the supplier, but frankly, in the position of Brasserie de la Senne … I do not see how you can expect something to be exclusive to you. You are far from the only one who was a loyal customer.”
When reached by GBH Brasserie de la Senne declined to comment on the situation. However, editor of Belgian Beer & Food magazine and Brussels resident Paul Walsh offered a typically even headed take on the news.
“I don't think there's anything to it,” Walsh says. “A bar has decided to stop selling somebody's beer. There are lots of other good beers at that bar, and there are lots of other good bars in Brussels, where people can find de la Senne beer.”
Indeed, but as such leaders in a scene often come up together, their collaborative relationship can be more than the sum of its parts. In this case, those two brands have become part and parcel of the Belgian “brand” for locals and travelers alike. And when things go wrong, more is lost than just a handle - a good deal of sentiment can be lost amongst customers on both sides. And with a very public split such as this, even more so.
- Matthew Curtis