Friday, July 08, 2016

Brewery De Kroon

Good day to you! This post is all about beer, so sit back, grab yourself a bottle and enjoy.

My brother, my brother-in-law and I planned a survival/camp trip to the Belgian wilderness, but it turned into a sublime beer taste experience instead, and a night at an almost deserted trailer park.

The park owner was one of those typical old men who enjoys drinking his bottle of Carlsberg in front of the TV while watching his favourite television program about drugs and sex... I find it funny and at the same time a little scary when a man manages to change a completely innocent conversation about beer into nastiness in one single sentence. Talking about an awkward moment! "Yeah, we gotta go now..." And off we went.

It was last Saturday when the three of us paid a visit to a very interesting and small brewery in Overijse (Flemish Brabant), Belgium. It could have been any other brewery, because Belgium has 176 of them, but we were lucky enough to strike down at the terrace of Freddy "Job" Delvaux his place: Brewery 'De Kroon'.

Our plan was to attend a tour and have some beers afterwards, but on our way to the brewery, we spotted an extremely muscular bull and stopped for almost half an hour to make photos of it. Anyway, we missed the tour and ended up drinking beer at the terrace.

We have tried three different beers this day and started of with Delvaux Special Blond, 8,5%, complex and lightly sweet. All three of us enjoyed this beer a lot, but we were completely overwhelmed with the next beer on the menu: Job, a fruity blond beer (unfiltered) with 6% alcohol and a malty aftertaste. On of the best beers we've ever had! I was so impressed that I complimented the waiter and told him all three of us really loved this beer. In response, he told us that the brewer himself was present at the brewery and that he would call him for us.

The professor

And that's how we met Professor Freddy Delvaux, one of Belgium's most famous beer specialists, also known as "Job" and "The best nose in Belgium".
I've looked him up online and found the following:
  • Finished his Ph.D. in microbiology in 1972;
  • 19 years head at the laboratory of the Artois brewery in Leuven;
  • Set up a beer laboratory at the university in Leuven, which he headed for about 22 years;
  • Opened a brewery after retiring from his earlier job.
Now that's a man who lives his dream. He sat down at our table, drank some beers with us and talked with us about his passion: beer! Then he asked us if we had seen the old brewery and after our 'Nope', he took us on a short tour. The old brewery, which is historically preserved, was active from 1897 till the 1980s. It was like we traveled back in time. What a magnificent place!

Me, Freddy Delvaux, Mike & Peter
(photo taken by Bert)

Then he showed us where they make the beer today. I've never seen such an organized and impressive laboratory, dedicated to brew beer. Unconsciously, I try to believe that they make beer the same way they did it 200 years ago, but who am I fooling? Of course designers of beer commercials and bottle labels try to encourage these romantic thoughts. After seeing 'De Kroon's' clean and structured laboratory, I've accepted the fact that modern technology can really make a big difference. We're talking about perfection and consistency of one of our favourite beverages!

In an earlier post, I wrote about a beer called 'La Trappe - Quadrupel', a Dutch Trappist and guess what? Freddy is one of the few standing at its cradle and helped to develop this delicious beer (which is one of my all-time favorites). Now, how about that?!

We had a few more glasses of beer and headed back to the campsite for some rest. Sunday afternoon we traveled back to our families in the Netherlands with an empty beer glass of 'De Kroon' (bought at the brewery) as a memory of this special day.


An old Bruichladdich cask and I

At the end of our tour I spotted this old Bruichladdich cask, and although I wasn't having a dram at the moment, it put a smile on my face (this is my "I'm having a beer and I'm happy" smile by the way). Don't get me wrong; I really appreciate good quality beer, but single malt whisky is still my number one!

This Laddie cask has inspired me to write more about whisky in the future. I'm planning to visit Scotland with my wife and son so that we can check out my favourite distilleries, enjoy the beauty of this land and eat some haggis!

The End

I was thinking about ending this post with some wise words, but I've decided to give you some Dock Boggs instead! Enjoy, and till next post.

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