Brouwerij Roman – Brewing Through Generations

Lode and Carlo Roman in the heart of Brouwerij Roman
Lode and Carlo Roman in the heart of Brouwerij Roman

Brouwerij Roman is the oldest family owned brewery in Belgium, making a wide range of Belgian beer styles as well as the Romy Pils. The brewery in Oudenaarde dates back 1545, and is now in the hands of Lode and Carlo Roman, 14th generation of the brewing family.

The current buildings are from the 1930s and they are an awe-inspiring sight. The huge yard with buildings on all four sides reminded me of a Danish country estate (like Hagenskov), and I suppose with its private quarters, horse stables and grain storage, it isn’t very far from the truth, though further production buildings make the brewery even bigger. Læs mere Brouwerij Roman – Brewing Through Generations

Brouwerij de Ryck – True Family Brewers

An de Ryck with her children and companions, Miek van Melkebeke and Bram van Melkebeke.
An de Ryck with her children and companions, Miek van Melkebeke and Bram van Melkebeke.

Brewery De Ryck, in the village of Herzele in the Flemish Ardennes, is the smallest of the Belgian Family Brewers. Dating back to 1886, the brewery is now run by fourth and fifth generation, and the future is looking bright. The brewery used to produce only three beers, darker in colour and only on tap in the local region. In 2007, bottles were introduced and new beers followed.

We began our brewery visit with a short introduction to the brewery history. Today, it’s run by An de Ryck, fourth generation of the family, and the first female brewing engineer in Belgium. She’s assisted by her son, Bram, and daughter Miek, and just one more employee. Læs mere Brouwerij de Ryck – True Family Brewers

Visiting the De Koninck brewery tour in Antwerp

De Koninck decoration in the ticket office, made from a lot of De Koninck bottles
De Koninck decoration in the ticket office, made from a lot of De Koninck bottles

Antwerp’s De Koninck beer is a truly iconic beer, served in the equally iconic bolleke glass. In fact, you can go into any bar in Belgium and order a “bolleke” or an “Antwerpen bolleke” and you’ll get a De Koninck in the proper glass. Antwerp is a confident city, and they’re proud of their bolleke.

De Koninck is a part of Belgian Family Brewers, and although it was sold to international brewery giants Duvel-Moortgat in 2010, it still counts because Duvel-Moortgat is also family owned. They have put a lot of money into the old city brewery, and we visited a very impressive, completely new brewery tour. Læs mere Visiting the De Koninck brewery tour in Antwerp

Stokerij de Molenberg – Gouden Carolus Whisky

Tasting Gouden Carolus Tripel, and the whisky that's made from the same base
Tasting Gouden Carolus Tripel, and the whisky that’s made from the same base

Stokerij de Molenberg, which is brewery Het Anker’s whisky distillery, was our first visit on the second day of my trip to Belgium. Malt makes beer and malt makes whisky, so it’s no wonder that many brewers have thought about making whisky. However, the Gouden Carolus brewers, Het Anker, had a special reason to go into distilling.

The brewery in Mechelen dates back to 1471 when nuns brewed beer, but it was taken over by a genever distilling family in 1872. The fifth generation owner of the brewery, Charles Leclef, bought back and renovated the buildings of the long gone Distillery de Molenberg in 2009 and has started whisky production. Læs mere Stokerij de Molenberg – Gouden Carolus Whisky

Dinner at Café Het Goudblommeke in Papier

Het Goudblommeke in Papier - La Fleur en Papier DoréHet Goudblommeke in Papier is a classic café in the heart of Brussels, a favourite watering hole of the surrealist movement in the 1920s. The name (La Fleur en Papier Doré in French) means The Golden Paper Flower, a poetic and very fitting name. The little café with it’s kitch/bric-a-brac interior is still a meeting place for artists and writers.

This is not a famous painting by Magritte (source: Wikipedia)
This is not a famous painting by Magritte (source: Wikipedia)

The founder of the café was Geert van Bruaene, who was also a poet and art dealer, so it was only natural that artists like René Magritte (Artsy gallery), Louis Scutenaire and Marcel Mariën would come here – do look up their art, although you probably shouldn’t google Marcel Mariën’s photography art while at work. We came here for a beer dinner, though, with family brewers Brasserie Dubuisson and Brasserie Lefebvre delivering the beer. Læs mere Dinner at Café Het Goudblommeke in Papier

Lindemans – traditional lambic and business

The press tour outside the Lindemans Brewery
The press tour outside the Lindemans Brewery

Friday around noon, a bus full of very excited beer writers arrive at the Lindemans family brewery. It’s the first stop of our epic tour of Belgium, and we’re here to taste some very exclusive spontaneous fermented beer. Not the sweet, pasteurized fruit lambic that makes up most of the brewery’s business, but the real thing, the real lambic beers. And as we’ll find out, we’re also here to experience a bit of magic from the brewery kitchen.

Lindemans and Mikkeller collaboration SpontanBasilOur aperitif was Lindemans/Mikkeller SpontanBasil. An uncompromising collaboration beer mixing good Belgian lambic beer with crazy Danish ideas. The finished beer has further matured with huge amounts of fresh basil, the way you would usually add cherries to make a kriek, or raspberries to make a framboise. The aroma of fresh basil is definitely there, but the jury is still out on whether it’s “very interesting” or “too interesting”. Læs mere Lindemans – traditional lambic and business

Belgian Family Brewers – generations of passion

Correct glassware and the Belgian pour are vital parts of Belgian beer culture
Correct glassware and the Belgian pour are vital parts of Belgian beer culture

I have just spent a wonderful long weekend in Belgian Flanders, visiting breweries, drinking great beer and enjoying wonderful beer cuisine. As I begin writing this, on the train from Gent to Brussels, I’m overwhelmed with impressions. The Belgian Family Brewers is an association of breweries with a long history and family ownership, but they are also very different, in size, style and goals. What they have in common is passion. They’re showing passion for their heritage and passion for their beer quality, before passion for empty story telling and bottom line results.

What I’m left with is a newfound respect for the history of some of these breweries. The Belgian beer landscape can be confusing with every brewery seeling their different beers under two, three, four or ten different brand names. Some brands with a long and interesting history, while others are invented/developed or bought up by big international corporations. How do I know which is which? Læs mere Belgian Family Brewers – generations of passion