their history - their beers
|This list is not intended to be exhaustive, only to cover breweries whose beers are mentioned in my pub guide pages. Belgian breweries are well-enough documented elsewhere for me not to feel too guilty.|
|Production (1,000 hl)||14,617a||16,019a||10,408a||16,099a||12,488a||10,140a||10,110a||13,015a||14,291a||14,141a||14,528a||14,575a||14,734a||14,966a||15,696a||15,650a||17,268c||17,274c|
|Imports (1,000 hl)||149a||272a||201a||228a||65a||97a||378a||739a||969a||648a||593a||703a||804a||877a||744a||1023a||993b||1,015c|
|Exports (1,000 hl)||5a||9a||47a||10a||7a||5a||205a||973a||2,315a||2,752a||4,608a||5,072a||5,474a||5,857a||6,539a||6,738a||8,699b||8,814c|
|Exports as %age of production||2%||7%a||16%a||19%a||31.7%||34.8%||37%a||39.1%||41.7%||43%||50%||51%|
|Consumption (1,000 hl)||14,761a||16,282a||10,562a||16,317a||12,546a||10,232a||10,283a||11,097a||12,781a||12,788a||12,945a||11,922a||12,037a||10,513a||10,206a||10,064a||9,986a||9,901a||9,935a||9,562c||9,475c|
|Consumption (per head)||221a||219a||143a||202a||149a||118a||112a||117a||132a||130a||131a||121a||121a||104a||100a||99a||98a||96a||96a||92c||91c|
a "Het Brouwersblad" June 2004, p.6, p.7
b "Het Brouwersblad" June 2005, p.7
c The Union of Belgian Brewers
d. Belgian Beer Board
|Belgian beer sales by beer type (hectolitres)|
"Het Brouwersblad" June 2004, p.12
b "Het Brouwersblad" June 2005, p.8
|Belgian beer sales by location (hectolitres)|
"Het Brouwersblad" June 2004, p.12, p.13
b "Het Brouwersblad" June 2005, p.8
c The Union of Belgian Brewers
|Belgian beer exports by beer type (hectolitres)|
"Het Brouwersblad" June 2004, p.9
b "Het Brouwersblad" June 2004, p.10
|Licensed premises by province|
"Het Brouwersblad" June 2004, p.15
|Interbrew/Inbev output worldwide|
|Central & South America||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||38,700|
|Central & Eastern Europe||-||-||-||-||-||17,900||22,900||23,100||28,400||34,300|
* After 1999 split into "Central & Eastern Europe" and "Asia-Pacific"
|St. Benedictusabdij De Achelse Kluis
De Kluis 1,
Independent brewery. A genuine Trappist brewery.
Though dating back to the 17th century, the modern history of the monastery in Achel only really starts in 1846, when it was re-established after dissolution during the French Revolution. Like many monasteries of the period, it possessed its own brewhouse. Brewing continued until 1914, when occupying German troops confiscating the brewing equipment to melt down for armaments. After the war, the brothers lacked the financial means to replace it and brewing ceased. Only in 1998 was a new brewery contructed and a blond and an amber beer produced under the Achel name, initially only available on draught. In 2002, the 8% Achel Blond appeared in bottled form.
rue du Village 32,
Tel: 061 - 288 147
Fax: 061 - 288 264
Annual production: 20,000 hl
A microbrewery, now in business for over 20 years, that thoroughly deserves its success. La Chouffe is an original and distinctive beer, that has gained great popularity. Strangely, it is far easier to find on draught in Amsterdam than in Belgium. Around 40% of their output is exported to Holland.
The bottled beers, with the exception of Kwel Chouffe, are only packaged in large champagne-style bottles.
Tel. 052 359911
Fax. 052 358357
Annual production: 27,200 hl (2003)
Owmed by Heineken. Their beers are beginning to appear in Dutch cafes supplied by Heineken.
Currently, the Affligem abbey beers are far superior to the Leffe (spit) or Grimbergen (urgh, nasty) ranges with which they compete. It remains to be seen what Heineken do with them long term.
Tel: 015 - 309 011
Fax: 015 - 314 191
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Homepage: http://www.maes.be/
Annual production: 2,000,000 hl
The Belgian brewing industry's number 2. The main shareholder is Scottish & Newcastle. They make an impressive array of crappy lagers.
Guido Gezellelaan 49,
Tel: 015 - 287 147
Fax: 015 - 287 148
Annual production: 7,000 hl
Independent brewery. The beers have improved immeasurably since the brewery escaped from Riva's ownership.
The brewery tap in Mechelen is well worth a visit. As well as their outstanding beers they also serve excellent food.
Tel: 016 - 247 111
Fax: 016 - 247 497
Annual production: 4,800,000 hl
Interbrew's main Belgian beer factory, that takes up large parts of Leuven. I can't say that I like any of the beers brewed there very much. I particularly dislike Leffe Blonde, a beer that is spreading like a cancer through Europe. Leffe Tripel - an excellent beer brewed in Hoegaarden - should not be confused with the rest of the Leffe range.
Lots of beers ended up here when Interbrew closed most of its ale breweries in a Whitbread-like sweep through the Belgian industry (how ironic they should themselves have gobbled up Whitbread). I'm not sure how many are still brewed as there was plenty of the sort of "duplication" in the range that multinationals love to simplify for us.
Du Bocq s.a.
Rue de la Brasserei 4.
Tel. 082 - 610 780
Fax 082 - 611 780
Annual production: 60,000 hl
A well-distributed regional brewery from Wallonia. Their beers are very distinctive - there's a certain taste they all seem to have - which helps when spotting their many label beers. They've never been my favourites, but that's down to personal taste rather than any failings of the beers themselves.
It doesn't take a genius to work out that not all the beers listed above are really separate brews. There are (it seems) hundreds of contract-brewed versions of these beers.
Tel: 02 - 356 6644
Fax: 02 - 356 3399
Annual production: 9,400 hl (2005)
You have to admire anyone who starts, as Fank Boon did, a new lambic brewery. It's not something you for money, but out of love. While his products may not be as sour as I would like, they are still traditionally made and characterful.
Tel: 052 - 332 283
Annual production: 23,000 hl
A small independent brewery with one outstanding product.
Route de Charlemagne 8,
Tel: 060 - 210327
Fax: 060 - 213442
Annual production: 105,000 hl (2001)
Independent brewery. One of the genuine Trappist breweries. Have sadly ruined their beers through the use of conical fermenters and cheap ingredients.
|Brouwerij De Keersmaeker
Tel: 02 - 452 4747
Fax: 02 - 452 4310
Annual production: 75,000 hl
An Alken-Maes subsidiary, bought in 1989.
Produces a small amount of real geuze, mostly, it seems, for the Mort Subite café in Brussels. A traditional Lambiek and Kriekenlambiek still survive on an unofficial basis, though the only place I've ever seen them is at the Opstal "Weekend der Spontane Gisting" festival. No doubt some pubs in the Payottenland still serve them, too.
Tel: 03 - 218 4048
Fax: 03 - 230 8519
Annual production: 130,000 hl
The pride of Antwerp and the last brewer to mass-produce a good pale ale in Belgium. It was for many years a one-product brewery, but has diversified a little in the last 10 years.
Another Belgian beer that is much easier to find in Holland than its home country. It's rarely makes an appearance on draught in Belgium outside Antwerp. It's distributed by Heineken in Holland and there have been rumours that they had bought a stake in De Koninck. Belgium's secretive company laws make this difficult to confirm.
De Gouden Boom
Tel: 050 - 330 699
Fax: 050 - 334 644
Founded: 1889 ***** CLOSED *****
Annual production: 30,000 hl
Known at 'T hammerken (The Little Hammer) until 1983, Gouden Boom is now a Palm subsidiary. It concentrates on the stronger beers of the groups range.
|Brouwerij De Ryck
Tel: 053 - 622 302
Fax: 053 - 631 541
Annual production: 6,000 hl
A tiny family-run brewery in East Flanders.
Rue Basse 5,
Tel. 069 671 066
Fax 069 671 045
Founded: 1920 (1759)
Annual production: 10,000 hl
The history of the Dupont is somewhat odd. It began in 1920 when Alfred Dupont bought his son Louis the Rimaux-Deridder brewery (founded in 1759) to dissuade him from emigrating to Canada. The brewery is still owned by Louis Dupont´s descendents.
Considering its fame, the brewery is still very small, producing not much more than 10,000 hl a year. About a third of this is exported. Saison Dupont is their flagship product and is generally reckoned to be the best beer in this elusive style. It has been around since 1844 and was originally brewed in the winter, matured in wooden barrels for several months then served to quench the thirst of agricultural labourers in the summer. As is appropriate for a harvest beer, it had a relatively modest alcohol content. With the disappearance of its original purpose, the beer has become progressively stronger.
Tel.: 03 - 860 94 00
Fax: 03 - 886 46 22
Annual production: 270,000 (2001)
|Brouwerij van Eecke
8978 Douvieweg 2,
Tel. 057 42 20 05
Independent brewery. The Brouwerij van Eecke has been owned by members of the van Eecke family since 1865 and is best known for its Het Kapittel range of abbey beers.
Tel: 016 - 601 501
Fax: 016 - 608 384
Annual production: 1,000,000 hl
A large regional brewery. It owns the Dutch Leeuw brewery, which gives its abbey ales a certain degree of distribution in Holland.
Tel: 016 - 767 676
Fax: 016 - 767 691
An Inbev subsidiary.
Hoegaarden was founded by Pierre Celis to revive the local wheat beer style, which had become extinct through brewery closures in the 1960's. Celis had helped out in local breweries on an irregular basis. One difference in his beer was that it wasn't spontaneously fermented as the original had been.
The beer gradually gained popularity until a disastrous fire in 1985 put the brewery's future in doubt. With help from Interbrew, it was rebuilt, but at a cost. The brewery was eventually bought outright by Interbrew.
Since taking over, Interbrew have fiddled with the beers less than might have been feared. They''re easily the best of the multinational's Belgian efforts. If brewed by a small independent brewery, they would probably garner the praise they deserve. As mass-market beers go, they're up there with the very best. It doesn't stop the rest of Interbrew's Belgian beers being total crap, though.
Tel 051 - 335 160
Fax 051 - 313 839
Annual production: 80,000 hl
An independent brewery that is quite commercial. There is a whole range of pseudo-lambic fruit beers..
Rue du Vise 243,
Tel: 04 - 262 7800
Annual production: 2,200,000 hl
One of Interbrew's two main lager plants in Belgium. Jupiler is seen throughout Belgium and France. That doesn't make it any good, though.
Tel 052 - 309 481
Fax 052 - 304 167
Annual production: 750,000 hl
Independent brewery. Palm is widely sold in Interbrew cafés in Holland. The agreement was originally struck with Oranjeboom and when they were taken over by Interbrew there was pressure put on landlords to drop Palm. Interbrew later had a change of heart now seems to have accepted the presence of Palm in its Dutch pubs.
They, slightly irritatingly, still brand some of their beers "Brugge" despite having closed their brewery in Bruges, De Gouden Boom.
A recent innovation is an unfiltered version of Speciale Palm dispensed by handpump. It seems to be cropping up in Palm tied pubs.
Microbrewery. Literally called the "Test brewery", it concentrates on brewing beers to order for those without brewing kit of their own. They have clients across Belgium and Holland. The Reinaert range they market themselves.
|Brouwerij Riva nv.
Tel: 051 - 633 681
Fax: 051 - 636 208
Annual production: 115,000 hl
A medium-sized independent brewery that has a disturbing habit of buying and closing smaller breweries.
Tel: 051 - 223 400
Fax: 051 - 229 248
Annual production: 75,000 hl
Owned by Palm. Rodenbach have to be admired for investing in a whole new bunch of oak maturing vats in the early 1990's. This is where they leave beer for two years to go sour. They're the only commercial brewer of the style to still stick to this traditional method 100%.
Sadly, soon after making the investment in exrtra capacity, the market for sour beers began to slide and the company got into financial difficulty. The result was a buyout by Palm, who promptly trimmed the product range by dropping Alexander.
I don't know if this is my memory playing tricks, but I'm sure that the standard Rodenbach has become less sour over the years. I suspect a change in the proportions of old and new beer which are blended to produce it. A couple of outlets offer uncut old beer served by handpump.
Tel: 057 - 388 021
Fax: 057 - 388 071
Annual production: 11,000 hl (2004)
Independent brewery. The St Bernardus Pater 6, 8 and 12 started life as commercial versions of the Westvleteren beers, brewed under licence.
Tel: 054 - 331 831
Fax: 054 - 338 445
Emmanuel Slaghmuylder founded the brewery in 1860 and it is still owned by his direct descendents. After building a new brewhouse in 1925, his sons began brewing bottom-fermenting beer and in 1926 introduced the wonderfully-named Slag Pils. Production of Witkap Pater was moved to Ninove in 1979 after a request from the brewery "De Drie Linden" in Brasschaat. Slaghmuylder introduced three variants: Witkap Pater Stimulo, Witkap Pater Dubbele Pater and Witkap Pater Tripel. Unlike many other small Belgian breweries, Slaghmuylder continues to brew both top- and bottom-fermenting beers and has built separate fermenting rooms for them.
Rue Dembèque 7
Tel: 071 - 350 133
Fax: 071 - 340 222
Annual production: 222,000 hl
The ale brewery of Alken-Maes (owner Scottish Courage). It brews beers from several breweries closed by the group.
With the possible exception of Grimbergen Optimo Bruno I wouldn't cross the street to drink any of their beers. I would jump into the canal to avoid some of the range. It makes you realise that Interbrew, Belgium's other big brewer, could be much, much worse.
Tel. 09 - 344 5071
Fax. 09 - 344.54.20
They also brew the Urthel brands for Brouwerij Leyreth.
Vlaamse Kaai 76,
Tel: 03 - 238 1240,
Fax: 03 - 238 6814,
Annual production: 1,200 hl
One of Belgium's few homebrew pubs. I can't say that their beers impressed me very much. I can't see the point in filtered beers in a brewpub.
Der Trappisten van Westmalle
Tel: 03 312 92 22
Fax: 03 312 92 28
Annual production: 120,000 hl
One of Belgium's genuine Trappist breweries. It has the highest output but (unlike Chimay) hasn't dumbed-down its beers in the slightest.
© Ron Pattinson 1999 - 2010
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