Amburon Belgian Craftbrewery
The beginning – The love of beer was instilled in Davy Daniëls from a very young age. His grandfather opened a drinks store in 1961. Davy’s father worked in the store throughout his life and Davy followed in his footsteps.
He was a first-hand witness to the growing success of Belgian specialty beers and a new wave of microbreweries and beer firms.
After marketing training Davy followed a technical tasting course conducted by beer-yeast expert Freddy Delvaux to acquire a more in-depth knowledge of Belgian beers.
In partnership with his childhood friend Bart Durlet, a brewer, he launched a city beer for Tongeren to celebrate the Coronation Celebrations - held in the city every seven years – of 2009.
And this is how the blond Amburon was born. Together, Davy and Bart set up the Anders development brewery in Halen. Within four years production had reached 2,000,000l.
In 2016 Davy set up Amburon Belgian Craftbrewery in partnership with Jan Jacobs and Carlo De Baere. This time around the focus lay on their own brands, particularly the Tungri range which includes Tungri Blond, Bitter and Dubbel.
This is a brewery with a passion for history. Amburon is a reference to Ambiorix, the chief of the local Eburones tribe, who led a successful revolt against the Roman invaders. The Tungri are the original inhabitants of Tongeren, the oldest settlement in Belgium.
In its start-up stage the brewery is aiming to produce around 300,000l per annum.
Try the fresh and fruity Tungri Bitter or the quaffable, mild tripel that goes under the name of Tungri Blond to get a good idea of their style.
Both beers are dry hopped in the cold storage tank.
The hops are added while the beers are still warm and cool down as part of the cold storage process, releasing extra hop flavours.
Local tradition provides a fertile source of inspiration, as demonstrated by the brewery’s launch of a morellenbier made with krieken cherries from the Haspengouw region.
This seasonal beer used to make its annual appearance at the fun fair.
This time around, it will mature in two new oak foeders, each containing 2500l of beer.
Freshly harvested krieken cherries will be steeped in a young, top-fermented beer, maturing between September and February to appear as a morellenbier in early spring. And the brewer is planning to experiment with other fruit varieties from the Haspengouw area.
He is also keeping a close eye on the latest trends in maturation on wood, the use of wild yeasts, and new beer styles.
Belgian brewers who honour tradition but also innovate serve as an inspiration. Take the traditional lambic breweries and geuzestekerijen (gueuze blenders), or think of brewers who produce regional beers such as Flemish red-brown or saison.
And don’t forget the ‘vintage’, ‘wild’ or ‘limited’ versions of the classics. Quality takes centre stage at Amburon. This is why the brewer re-ferments his beers in the bottle. This process yields more complex aromas and tastes and produces beers that can be stored for longer.
Bert Housen was a brewer with proefbrouwerij Anders, the Anders developments brewery. Bert was trained by Bart Durlet, gaining experience in several beer styles and types. He is now in charge of production at Amburon.
Bert is a firm believer in the power of cross-fertilisation. In partnership with Davy Daniëls he systematically tastes all the new beers that come onto the Belgian market.
And they find inspiration abroad too. Bert speaks with fellow brewers on a regular basis. Amburon has received a co-brewing request from some Finnish brewers and would like to explore this further. This type of co-brewing will produce beers for specific events or focusing on a particular theme.
Brewery owner Davy Daniëls wants to share his own love of beer with a wide audience. In 2006, in partnership with Bart Durlet, he set up the annual Ambiorix beer festival (formerly called the Anders beer festival) in Tongeren.
The festival is held during the first weekend in August and regularly attracts 7,000 beer lovers to Tongeren’s Market Square.
Around 20 breweries display their wares as drinkers tuck into around 100 Belgian beers. In recent years more and more foreign beer lovers have found their way to this beer festival right at the heart of the oldest city in Belgium.
You can visit this new brewery by prior arrangement. Davy, the owner, or Bert, the brewer, will be happy to show you around. They will describe how they select their ingredients, provide a detailed overview of the brewing process, and give an in-depth explanation of the use of oak foeders, the famous giant barrels of the Belgian beer world.
The guided tour takes about an hour and is followed by an extensive tasting session enhanced by a professional beer analysis. You will sample the Tungri beers in a separate tasting room, attached to a beer shop that offers no fewer than 600 Belgian beers.
Brouwerij Amburon works in close co-operation with the Tongeren Tourist Board. This has produced packages like a guided brewery tour combined with a Tongeren city walk.
The brewery is surrounded by orchards and makes a great starting point for a voyage of discovery in the Haspengouw region with its green fields and gentle hills - Belgium’s largest ‘fruit barn’. The area boasts several castles, ancient water mills and picturesque villages.
A tip for walkers: Haspengouw is at its best when the trees are in bloom, generally at the end of April. Don’t delay as the blossoms may not be out for long if the weather is bad. Not far away from the brewery, in Overrepen, you can visit a private Japanese garden. Attend a tea ceremony, or opt for a beer tasting. Both are available.
The completely restored Grote Markt (market square) lies at the heart of the oldest city in Belgium. It is a pleasant place for a stroll by the statue of Ambiorix, the chief of the Eburones, and past the Basilica church and the city hall.
The robust Basilica is the result of hundreds of years of building and modification from 1240. Pay a visit to the cloisters and the treasure chamber.
The Basilica is built on the foundations of a Gallo-Roman villa. To find out more, visit the unique Gallo-Roman museum, ancient history beautifully showcased in modern architecture.
The 18th century City Hall is a triumph of Classical architecture with a characteristic touch of the Maasland building style, named after the River Meuse.
Several monuments date back to the Middle Ages. The Moerenpoort (1379) served as one of the city gates and was erected on the remains of the Roman walls. Through this gate you reach the Beguinage, now a UNESCO World Heritage site. In this compact city you change time zones time and time again.
Tip: visit Tongeren on a Sunday morning, when the city centre hosts the largest antiques market in the country. Antiques dealers and brocanteurs display their wares all across the roads, alleys and squares. Their shops are open too.
Getting There & Around
Tongeren is 100 kilometres from Brussels. The journey by car using the E40 takes 1 hour 15 minutes. A direct train from Brussels will take you to Tongeren in 1 hour 30 minutes. If you change trains at Hasselt the trip takes 1 hour 45 minutes.
The brewery is located on Hasseltsesteenweg, five minutes outside Tongeren towards Kortessem. From the station the bus will get you there in 10 minutes.
Tongeren is a timeless city: a big chunk of history squeezed into a small area. In and around the city there are 24 churches, monuments, conservation areas and protected landscapes.
Three Mijlpaalroutes (milestone routes) start from the railway station, the bus station, or the Plinius park and leisure centre, converging at Grote Markt, the main market square. The walks are colour-coded and marked by stepping stones. The red route is 3.3 kilometres; the blue route is just 1.5km. The green route covers 2km and you can tag on a 3km nature walk.
With its gentle hills, the Haspengouw region is a cycling paradise. Explore its splendid landscapes and discover its numerous castles and monuments along the Hamalroute (34km) or the Hinnisdaelroute (41km), both of which start from Tongeren.
Gastronomy, Food & More Beer
Gourmets know the way to De Mijlpaal and Magis, both restaurants with an excellent reputation. Although Tongeren lies far from the coast, you can find fantastic mussels at Stas at Grote Markt or Café De Eburoon near the station.
We can also recommend Stas for its steak, meatballs in a Liège sauce, freshly minced américain (steak tartare), or trout and almonds with freshly cut fries.
Beautiful regional products include watercress grown by St-Lucie in the village of Lauw, jenever (a type of gin) from Hasselt, syrup from Borgloon, knapkoek biscuit from Maaseik and the blue cheese from Achel.
Watercress is now called a superfood. And it is super healthy, with 1 kilogram containing more vitamin C than a kilo of oranges and more iron than spinach. To try a watercress beer, order a local La Cress.
The area around Tongeren is known around the world for its fruit production. Star products such as Jonagold apples and Conference pears travel all around Europe and even to Russia.
The largest fruit auctions in Europe can also be found here. Borgloon is home to the old syrup factory, now a listed building. The syrup is 100 percent natural and made just from pectin from apples and pears. Ten kilos of fruit yield 1 kilo of syrup.
Via Julianus 5
tel. +32(0)12/80 00 70
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