Leaving Brussels behind, it was time to meet our first brewer in the village of Belsele in the Waasland region.
The Boelens family has been brewing since the middle of the Nineteenth century. Our host was Kris Boelens, who took over from his father in 1980. A long history for a brewery in Flanders means large fluctations, with the two world wars brought both destruction of the brewing facilties – the stripping of all the copper – as well as restirctions on raw materials. Boelens was reducet to a distribution company at one point, supplying beer to a number of pubs and cafes in the area.
When Kris took over, he decided to make a new start, but his current brewhouse is still small, the batches are 2500 liters. The old 500 liter brewery is rented out to those who want to make small batches.
He brews with local city water and gets malt from a maltery just 20 kilometers away.
There is a fairly traditional core range of beers, with a Dubbel and a Tripel, but also two honey beers, one from an old recipe at the brewery.
We were served a special treat, the Tripel Klok that has spent some time in Bruichladdich oak barrels. This has a smoky nose, the whisky blends in very well with the beer without taking total control. The secret? Only three weeks in the barrel.
Kris prefers to work with his core range of styles and not jump on any new bandwagons. As he summed it up:
You can have IPA and IPAPAPAPAPA.
They are open Tuesday-Saturday, check their web site for opening hours. I’m afraid I have no idea about getting there by public transport.