Kasteel Brouwerij Vanhonsebrouck

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1865 - One day in Werken

The brewing dynasty starts with the founder Amandus Vanhonsebrouck. He was the mayor of the village of Werken, where he owned a farm that included a dairy, a brewery and a distillery. After his sudden death in 1865, Emile - one of the ten children - succeeds him as both brewer and mayor.

1900 - Sint Jozef brewery is born

Together with his wife Louise De Poorter, Emile moves into the family farm in Werken. However, Louise does not get on with her mother-in-law. The young couple decide to leave the village of Werken to start up their own brewerie. In 1900 the Van Honsebrouck - De Poorters move into a modest farm on the outskirts of Ingelmunster, the birth place of Louise. The Sint Jozef brewery is born.

1922 - After the First World War

As the mother of five children, Louise also manages to run the brewery successfully. It turns out that her husband Emile is not cut out to be in charge of a brewery. When Emile is almost eighty years old, Louise decides to leave the brewery to their son Paul. Together with his brother Ernest, he manages to keep the brewery going after the destruction wrought by the First World War.

1930 - Expansion of the brewery

The brothers are ambitious and manage to expand the brewery with a new four-storey building. The new building comprises a maltings, water basins and storage facilities for barley. The ground floor becomes a great storage barrels: fifteen foeders with a capacity of between 180 to 250 hectoliters each. The renovations are accompanied by the launch of a old brown beer that is quickly gaining popularity.

1939 - Payment in beer

Nine years later, the renovation is concluded with the addition of a new brewing hall, tank hall and bottling plant. To fund the expansion, the brothers have a splendid agreement with a building contractor. They pay fifty percent of the work in cash and the other half ‘in natura’, in other words, in beer.

1945 - Pils and export

After the Second World War, the brothers also specialize in exporting and brewing pils. The changeover to the production of this type of beer takes a great deal of money and effort but it does not exactly set the tills ringing. Yet the brothers manage to keep the brewery going.

1953 - Luc in charge

When Paul becomes seriously ill at a relatively young age, someone must take over the brewery. Ernest and his wife have remained childless, so one of Paul's seven children must succeed him. One of the older sons, Luc, decides to study to become a brewer and learns the ropes in Wuppertal, Germany. After his studies and internship in the Wicküler-Kupperbrauerei, he takes over the family firm.

1956 - Bacchus

Luc realizes that the small Sint Jozef brewery isn't able to compete with the large pils breweries. He therefore decides to concentrate on the production of an old brown beer, naming it Bacchus. He completely stops brewing pils and changes the name of the brewery to Vanhonsebrouck.

1957 - Lambic in the Leie region

The success of Bacchus gives Luc the idea to create a second specialty beer, the gueuze. Until that time, this beer style is only brewed in the Zenne valley. But how do you transfer the wild yeasts needed for spontaneous fermentation from the valley of the Zenne to Ingelmunster, which is about 100 kilometres away? In 1957 Luc buys lambic wort from Van Haelen Frères in Uccle and pumps the wort into the foeders used to mature the Bacchus. Then he transfers the yeast culture from one foeder to the next and thus, based on a relatively small quantity of wort, he manages to produce sufficient lambic to feed his own gueuze and kriek. The St-Louis Gueuze and Kriek were officially launched in 1958.

1971 - West Flemish Lambic wort

The St-Louis beers are a hit. In 1971 it appears that The Van Haelen wort have taken root in the brewery in Ingelmunster and created its own habitat. This means that the lambic wort brought over from Brussels is no longer needed. St-Louis can now be brewed in West Flanders.

1978 - Beginning of the Gueuze war

Vanhonsebrouck introduces gueuze on tap and becomes this way the second largest producer of gueuze in the country. By offering gueuze on tap, Vanhonsebrouck steals a march on its competitor Belle-Vue from Brussels. The market leader Belle-Vue feels compelled to follow. In 1978, the competition between Belle-Vue and St-Louis battles out on the football pitch. Anderlecht displays Belle-Vue on the jerseys and Club Brugge is sponsored by St-Louis. The Gueuze war lasts a long time, but it does seriously increase sales.

1983 - Emergence of specialty beers

Specialty beers are gaining popularity throughout the country. That is the moment when Luc decides to brew a new beer, which he named Brigand. The name is a subtle reference to the rebels during the French Occupation in 1798.

1984 - Royal visit

The Royal Brew Society of Kortrijk exists 75 years and that must be celebrated. As chairman, Luc welcomes prince Albert and princess Paola. The visit is accompanied by the necessary speeches and tours. Luc knows that the prince does not drink beer. However, at the end of the visit, Luc manages to make the prince take a sip of Brigand. "It's champagne," Prince Albert hears Luc saying while he drinks the glass with suspicion.

1986 - Brigand municipality

Brigand is on the rise and the municipality of Ingelmunster is aware of this. Therefore the municipality decides in January to officially rename Ingelmunster to Brigand municipality. The first Brigand parade takes place in March. This tradition will last for years. The heart of the Vanhonsebrouck family belongs to Ingelmunster, which is proven by the purchase of the Ingelmunster Castle. Both the castle and the park are now open to the general public. This way, the municipality also gains a tourist attraction.

1989 - Castle as inspiration

The Vanhonsebrouck family is still the proud owner of the Ingelmunster Castle. The Castle is also the great source of inspiration for Kasteel Donker, the very first specialty beer of the Kasteel range. A few years later, in 1996, Kasteel Blond and Kasteel Tripel follow.

1990 - Brussels versus Ingelmunster

The lambic brewers from the Brussels region are not happy about the West Flemish gueuze and lambic. They therefore issue a Royal Decree containing the condition that both beer styles can only be brewed within a 20-kilometre radius from Brussels. Luc appeals against the impending Royal Decree and argues: "If they think, over in Brussels, that here in Ingelmunster we cannot produce a gueuze, that won't catch on.” Until today, the Vanhonsebrouck family is allowed to produce gueuze and lambic in the Leie region.

1997 - Approved by Michael Jackson

In 1992, beer aficionado Jef Van den Steen claims that the gueuze of Luc would gain plenty of popularity if there was an unfiltered, bottle-fermented St-Louis Gueuze. Luc Vanhonsebrouck accepts the challenge and in 1997 he launches the St-Louis Gueuze Fond Tradition in the presence of the late "beer hunter" Michael Jackson.

2001 - Launch of Premium fruit beers

The St-Louis Premium beers are sweet fruit beers with aromas of cherries, raspberries or peaches. These fresh thirst-quenchers with a low alcohol content are brewed on a lambic base.

2007 - A Kasteel beer out of the box

The new Kasteel Rouge beer is a unique blend of Kasteel Donker and macerated cherries. The latest addition to the Kasteel range is a specialty beer for lovers of sweet cherries. The success of Kasteel Rouge is spreading to other countries in Eastern and Western Europe, Russia, China and the United States of America.

2009 - Five, four, two

"Do you know what the numbers 5, 4 and 2 stand for?" Xavier Vanhonsebrouck asks. On 1st January 2009, he succeeds his father Luc. By that time, Xavier has been working within the brewery for over twenty years, primarily in sales and exports. And those numbers? "I am the fifth brewer in the Vanhonsebrouck family, the fourth to wield the mashing stick in Ingelmunster and the second one who only produces specialty beers.”

2010 - Beer with notes of port

What happens if you mature Kasteel Donker for nine years? Then you produce a gastronomic beer with beautiful impressions of port. However, Xavier Vanhonsebrouck does not want to wait that long and challenges his master brewer Hans to develop a beer with the characteristics of an aged Kasteel Donker. The result is Cuvée du Château, a young beer with the full – madeirised – aromas and tastes of a mature Kasteel Donker.

2013 - The year of challenges

Kasteel Brouwerij Vanhonsebrouck is not afraid of colouring outside the lines. After the success of the Cuvée du Château, the brewer comes up with the idea of maturing Kasteel Tripel in vintage cognac barrels. The Trignac is born! The Indian Pale Ale is booming and continues to gain popularity. To respond to the IPA trend, Kasteel Hoppy is developed with a bitterness of 45 EBU. However, unlike the IPA, Kasteel Hoppy is not a hop bomb and is very mild in taste.

Like father, like son. Just like Luc, Xavier isn't afraid of a challenge. According to yeast expert Filip Delvaux, it is impossible to produce a top-fermented pils beer. Vanhonsebrouck proves the opposite with the Passchendaele. In collaboration with the municipality of Zonnebeke, Passchendaele is officially launched as a 'remembrance beer' of the First World War. Part of the proceeds from its sale goes to the foundation to help fund the upkeep of war cemeteries and war monuments in the Westhoek region (the famous Flanders Field).


2014 - Sympathetic Filou

A new year, a new specialty beer. With Filou, Vanhonsebrouck launches a genuine thirst-quencher but with enough complexity to be appreciated by lovers of specialty beers. The little rascal - Filou - depicted on both the bottle and the glass has you in his sight, catapult at the ready. Filou is quickly gaining sympathy and supports football club KV Oostende, basketball club Filou Oostende and volleyball club Knack Roeselare.

2015 - When beer met chocolate

Vanhonsebrouck continues to experiment with surprising flavours and combinations. The icing on the cake is the Barista Chocolate Quad, the successful marriage between beer and coffee. This strong dark beer offers clear notes of chocolate with aromas of roasted malt. The Barista Chocolate Quad is a unique beer to end a meal.

In the same year, Kasteel Brouwerij Vanhonsebrouck decides to collaborate with the producers of the popular Flemish soap 'Thuis'. In this fictional television program, the main character Eddy brews his own dark beer. The fans of 'Thuis' want to taste the beer and so Vanhonsebrouck decides to produce it. Slurfke, a strong dark beer, is born!


2016 - Brewery of the future

An important year has arrived for Kasteel Brouwerij Vanhonsebrouck. The doors of the old brewery in Ingelmunster are permanently closed. The new site in Emelgem is now home to a brand new, fully integrated brewery, with the equipment to produce all of the Vanhonsebrouck beers and handle both logistics and storage. The construction of the new site took two years and cost 40 million euros. The result is the most modern brewery in Europe. The production process is being expanded from 100,000 to 200,000 hectoliters.

The new brewery does not only focus on more efficient production, but also on the experience for visitors. There is a restaurant where you can eat beer-based dishes and in Michelle's pub you can taste all beers in combination with a snack. In the beer boutique, visitors can buy all beers, as well as gadgets and beer pralines. The new site offers also all the facilities for a corporate event or a wedding.

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