No.1 travel guide for Belgium; dedicated to Belgian beer and food culture.

Castle Brewery Van Honsebrouck


Email  •  Print

The Brewery

The Beginning – Castle Brewery Van Honsebrouck/Bierkasteel is named after the famous fortress that also graces the brewery’s logo. Once the stronghold of the Count of Flanders, Robrecht de Fries, the Bierkasteel, Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck CEO Xavier Van Honsebrouck
© BeerTourism.com
castle was converted into a luxurious country mansion in 1736.

In 1986 it was acquired by the Van Honsebrouck family, who have been brewing in Ingelmunster since 1900. However, the roots of the Van Honsebrouck family go back far beyond the beginning of the 20th century.

It wasn’t until the middle of the 1950s that the brewery acquired its present form when Luc Van Honsebrouck took up the reins of the company. In his own unconventional way he gave the brewery a new commercial focus and a direction for its products.

Within a few years the brewery was flourishing as never before, Luc Van Honsebrouck had made his name and was a serious player in the brewing world.

In the 1970s a geuzenoorlog (a “gueuze war”) broke out in Belgian football. Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck with its St Louis fruit beers was the main sponsor of Club Brugge.

Their arch rivals Anderlecht, from Brussels, were backed by the Vanderstock family and their Belle Vue beer. Sparks flew on the terraces and in nearby cafés. “If the Brusselaars claim Bierkasteel, Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck Castle Brewery Van Honsebrouck - "The Bierkasteel"
© BeerTourism.com
that geuze cannot be made in Ingelmunster, no doubt it will be banned,” Luc Van Honsebrouck said.

These days Luc’s son Xavier leads the company and, just like his Dad, he has ambitious plans.

Xavier invested in a brand new brewery in the nearby village of Emelgem (in Izegem) that became fully operational in 2016 with a brewing capacity of 25,000,000 litres (twice the capacity of Ingelmunster).

The Izegem brewery is in fact several breweries under one roof, equipped with state-of-the-art technology for the production of top-fermented beers (Brigand, Kasteel, Filou, Slurfke), spontaneously fermented beers (the St Louis range), and beers of mixed fermentation (like Bacchus). It is a unique combination.


The Brewing

When Luc Van Honsebrouck joined the brewery in 1953, its products included brown table beer, export beer, pils and old brown (an oudbruin, later named Bacchus). The Bacchus turned out to be a great Bacchus Frambozen Bacchus Raspberry
© BeerTourism.com
success, which prompted the brewery to focus on speciality beers to the exclusion of everything else.

In 1957 Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck purchased their first batch of lambiek yeast from Van Halen Frères in Ukkel. This particular type of yeast, in a wort, was produced in a cooling basin where it collects wild bacteria from the air.

The day after it was “infected”, the mixture would be driven to Ingelmunster, where it would be added to the casks or foeders in which the Bacchus was maturing. Thus, the Bacchus would ripen while mixing with local wort.

By transferring this small, precious yeast culture from cask to cask, the brewer managed to produce enough lambic to start up gueuze and kriek production.

The bacteria doesn’t just fall out of the air, but they are never far away.

They exist all around the brewery and the Van Haelen wort helped create a microbe-friendly micro-climate. And so, the St Louis Gueuze was born, followed by a Bierkasteel, Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck The state of the art brewhall
© Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck
kriek (cherry) and a framboise (raspberry) beer. Van Honsebrouck was to offer draught gueuze in time.

After Luc Van Honsebrouck bought Ingelmunster Castle he launched the popular Kasteel. And after tasting an aged Kasteel, Luc decided to brew a gastronomic beer.

Its touches of port and Madeira inspired him to create Cuvée du Château, a beer that is reminiscent of a Liefmans or a Rodenbach, enriched with touches of the Portuguese wine. It’s one to enjoy in front of an open fire.

Current CEO Xavier Van Honsebrouck sums up the brewery’s philosophy: “We give our beers all the time they need. We are not a beer factory. You wouldn’t make a Flemish Stew in a pressure Kasteel Blond Kasteel Blond
© BeerTourism.com
cooker, would you?”

The 1980's saw a change in the Belgian beer market, with an increased demand for heavier, blond beers. In response, Van Honsebrouck launched, among other new beers, the Brigand, a very malty and strong beer.

Nowadays, Luc’s son Xavier Van Honsebrouck - the seventh generation of the family to brew - follows in his father’s idiosyncratic footsteps in his own special way.

The brewery now offers a range of close to 30 different beers. Xavier, in co-operation with brewmaster Hans Mehuis, is already responsible for a number of new brews, such as the Barista Chocolate Quad, Kasteel Hoppy, Filou, Slurfke and Trignac XII, a Kasteel Tripel matured in cognac barrels.


The Brewers

The story of the Van Honsebrouck beer dynasty starts in 1811 with the birth of Amandus Van Honsebrouck. He was a farmer who expanded his farm with a dairy, distillery and brewery. Emile Van Honsebrouck Emile Van Honsebrouck
© Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck

When Amandus died suddenly in 1865 his son Emile Van Honsebrouck (1844 – 1929) took over, first as a brewer and later also as Mayor of Werken.

After a number of failed attempts, Emile and his wife Louise De Poorter settled on the edge of Louise’s home town of Ingelmunster to set up the Sint Jozef brewery. Louise was the driving force behind the brewery until her favourite son Paul and his older brother Ernest took over the reins in 1922.

Ernest never married and when Paul’s health started to suffer his eldest son Luc (b 1930) put forward a proposition. Luc promised to gain his brewer’s qualifications to ensure the continuation of the brewery..

In 1953 he made his first steps into the brewery business. In the same year, he also broke with tradition by concentrating on speciality beers rather than trying to compete with the large pilsner breweries. What is more, Luc abandoned pils brewing completely and, in the middle of the 1950s, he changed the company name to Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck. Kasteel Rouge, Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck Daughter Michelle with a Kasteel Rouge
© BeerTourism.com

After 55 years, aged 78, Luc decided that enough was enough and it was time for a new broom and some new blood.

On January 1st, 2009, Luc’s son Xavier (b 1967) took over the Van Honsebrouck family brewery.

He has his father’s knack for trend-setting and a commitment to a vision; he’s another innovator who doesn’t necessarily follow tradition.

Xavier, with his wife Lindsey Herman, has four children (two sets of twins!), so the next generation of this Belgian brewing dynasty from West Flanders is now assured. Currently, one of the daughters, Michelle, is already partly running the successful brasserie.


The Beers


The Visit

Bierkasteel - Van Honsebrouck in Izegem has all the facilities to welcome visitors, and is very well-equipped to host parties and events, both private and corporate. Bierkasteel, Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck Wagyu Burger & Filou
© Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck

Bierkasteel brewery tours are held Tuesday to Saturday at 10.30am, 2pm and 4.30pm. Groups of 25 or more can also visit by prior arrangement.

You don’t always need to book weekday visits in advance, but tour places may be unavailable or limited if you don’t.

Tour guests will find out how top-fermented beers are produced from start to finish, and see how spontaneous- and mixed-fermentation beers are made.

They can admire the brewhall and the filtration, fermentation and cold-storage facilities. They tour the bottling line and the packaging area before ending up in the new barrel hall, where Trignac is quietly maturing.

Around 30 beers are brewed in Izegem. These include Kasteel, St-Louis and Bacchus. Most of these are available on tap at the brewery.

Enjoy your chosen beer in the Bierkasteel brasserie, relaxing by the open fire with its surround designed by Gustave Eiffel. The Bierkasteel Brasserie is an innovative Bierkasteel, Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck The brasserie
© Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck
restaurant in its own right.

The chefs use a top-of-the-range Mibrasa charcoal oven to preserve the natural aromas and authentic flavours of their ingredients.

Watch the kitchen brigade bustle around while you enjoy your meal.

On a sunny day there is no better place to enjoy a beer, with or without food, on the spacious patio with its views of the brewhall.

There is also a shop on-site, the ‘Bierboetiek’, which offers merchandise, gift packs and hand crafted chocolates made with the brewery’s own beers.

For more information or to book your tour, visit the Bierkasteel website.


The Location

Izegem is a small Flemish community in the south of the province of West Flanders, part of the Leieland tourist region. This green, forested town is situated on the banks of the river Mandel. Brigand, Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck Brigand
© BeerTourism.com

The area offers a good choice of overnight accommodation and is home to a number of walking trails and cycling routes.

Ieper (Ypres) and many other World War I memorials and battlefield sites can be reached within an hour.

Nearby Ingelmunster is host to the annual Labadoux folk festival, which takes place on the first weekend in May.

Ingelmunster is sometimes called the Brigandsgemeente or “Town of the Brigands”, in remembrance of Brigands Sunday on 28 October, 1798, the day of the repression of the Brigands’ Revolt by the French during the so-called Boerenkrijg, or Peasants’ War.

Ingelmunster is also where trail-blazing French fighter pilot Roland Garros crashed his plane during World War I.

He survived that crash only to die just before the war ended and the French paid homage to their aviation pioneer and war hero by naming their national tennis championship after him.


Getting There & Around

Izegem is relatively easy to reach with public transport. The train ride from Brussels takes just under 2 hours. There is a good road network: from Calais you can expect to drive for 1 hour 30 minutes, and the town is just a 30-minute drive from Bruges. Ypres Ypres
© BeerTourism.com

It does exist, but public transport is perhaps not the most efficient way to travel around the West Flemish area. So, if you are planning to do some touring, a car is the best option.

Once you have arrived at your destination and checked in, you can leave the car parked up; the scenery is nice enough to enjoy at a slower pace, certainly in summertime.

There are also several opportunities to discover the area by bike or on a scooter; guides can be booked for a varied selection of themed walks too.

Many of these are of course are related to WWI but there are also a couple of beer orientated tours. West Flanders has historically been the centre of hop production in Belgium so there is more than enough too see, taste and experience. See our relevant city guides for more information on the subject.


Gastronomy, Food & More Beer

Izegem is located in the province of West Flanders, which has historic Bruges as its capital. The province excels when it comes to gastronomy as well as breweries; the density of Michelin stars is impressive. Bierkasteel, Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck Beer cocktails at the Bierkasteel
© BeerTourism.com

The Sint-Sixtus brewery of Westvleteren, St. Bernardus, and the Struise Brouwers are just a few of the breweries in the vicinity, and two of Belgium's three-starred Michelin restaurants are also located in the province.

As this is the only Belgian coastal province, with a strong agricultural heritage, you’ll find a rich selection of regional products and specialities being served in local restaurants.

You are sure to find places selling the brews of Van Honsebrouck to enjoy with your meal.

As some of their brews (Cuvée du Château for example) have been conceived and developed as gastronomic/culinary beers, some chefs also use them in certain recipes, such as stoofvlees (Flemish Stew), one of Belgium's most undisputedly popular national dishes.

Check out what chef Pieter has on offer at the Bierkasteel Brasserie in Izegem. They offer 30 beers from Van Honsebrouck on tap, cook with the beers and present the best possible food pairings. The Bierkasteel Brasserie is open Tuesday to Saturday.


More Info

You can contact the tourism information office in Ingelmunster at:

Tourism Izegem
Telephone: +32 (0) 51 31 64 46
Email: toerisme@izegem.be




Contact


Castle Brewery Van Honsebrouck
Ingelmunstersestraat 46
Emelgem (Izegem)
8870
West Flanders, Belgium


Email Website Telephone+32 (0) 51 33 51 60 Googleplus Twitter Facebook Instagram

Map


Recent Blog Posts

Brussels Beer Challenge 2016: Belgium holds its own in the beer world
BRUSSELS - For the fifth running of the Brussels Beer Challenge the organisers selected a location steeped in history and prestige. After touring from Brussels to Liège, Leuven and Antwerp, ... [ read more ]
'Het Bierkasteel' - My home is my beer castle
IZEGEM - Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck is proud to present ‘Het Bierkasteel’ (the Beer Castle); a brand new multi-purpose space designed and built for events, relaxation, brewery visit and beer experience ... [ read more ]
North Sea Beer Festival’s second successful showing
OSTEND - For the last weekend of August, Ostend moves its location to the shores of the ‘beer sea’ as Belgian breweries, local restaurants and food trucks pull out all the stops for the annual North S ... [ read more ]
A weekend of Belgian beer in Brussels
BRUSSELS - The first weekend in September is highlighted in the diaries of many beer lovers, who head to the Grand Place in Brussels to find that great public space converted into one giant bar. ... [ read more ]
First North Sea Beer Festival attracts 5,000 visitors
OSTEND - A cosy, relaxed atmosphere and happy expressions on the faces of beer lovers from all around the world greet me. This is, above all else, what strikes me when I visit the first ever North Sea ... [ read more ]
Brewing for the future with Castle Brewery Van Honsebrouck
IZEGEM/INGELMUNSTER - Summer 2015: the first test brews are flowing out of the tanks at Castle Brewery Van Honsebrouck’s new brewery in Izegem. There have been no rash or rushed decisions from these b ... [ read more ]
Black Gold - Barista Chocolate Quad
INGELMUNSTER - Espresso, cappuccino, ristretto… We have become familiar with the rich and varied Italian coffee culture. We order a coffee to warm us up, to give us a boost or to finish off a meal. ... [ read more ]
Belgian beer styles: Gueuze & Lambic
PAJOTTENLAND - Lambic (lambiek) is one of the oldest beer styles in Belgium. It is a spontaneously fermented beer, a so-called flat beer, coppery blonde to amber in colour, with an alcohol content by ... [ read more ]
Building a new castle with Xavier Van Honsebrouck
INGELMUNSTER/IZEGEM There isn’t much that remains hidden from the all-seeing eye of the webcam. The computer screen shows us a team of labourers busy installing the glass wall of a new brewing hall. ... [ read more ]
Welcoming the new kid on the block: Filou
INGELMUNSTER - The image on the label stays with you. A little rascal, wearing his cap nonchalantly the wrong way around, is preparing to attack. One eye shut to improve his already impeccable aim, ... [ read more ]
Beer & Battlefields: The Passchendaele Tour
ZONNEBEKE/YPRES - Following on from the launch of Passchendaele, its WWI commemorative beer, Castle Brewery Van Honsebrouck has now introduced the Beer & Battlefields Passchendaele Tour. ... [ read more ]
Brewing magic: Cuvée du Château
INGELMUNSTER - Brewing always involves just a little bit of magic. One brewer expressed it as follows: “We put the ingredients together and wait for the result”. But we think there is more to it than ... [ read more ]
Masters of Brewing: Hans Mehuys from Castle Brewery Van Honsebrouck
INGELMUNSTER - Hans Mehuys has been wielding the mashing stick at the Van Honsebrouck brewery for over a quarter of a century. Six years ago he was appointed as Brewmaster and Head of Production. ... [ read more ]
Passchendaele, the Great War remembrance beer
ZONNEBEKE/YPRES - Throughout the British Commonwealth, the name of Passendale is just as well-known as that of Ypres and Flanders Fields. This is where half a million soldiers lost their lives in Worl ... [ read more ]
Trignac, where Kasteel Tripel meets Cognac
INGELMUNSTER - On the 10th of March, Castle Brewery Van Honsebrouck will be officially presenting this years' Trignac XII at the "Prik & Tik" fair in Belgium. Reason enough then for us to visit Xa ... [ read more ]
Xavier Van Honsebrouck, a rebel with a cause
INGELMUNSTER - The inhabitants of West Flanders are known as entrepreneurs. The region around Kortrijk is considered to be the ‘Texas of Belgium’. Exaggerated? Read the story of Castle Brewery Van Hon ... [ read more ]
First Beer Tourism Café launched in Ostend
OSTEND - Good news for beer lovers on the Belgian coast, the first Beer Tourism Café now offers them a warm welcome in Ostend. No, this is not the first in a long chain of cloned ... [ read more ]

Comments


You must be logged in to leave a comment


SHARE:
 



BLOG

POSTS
Hop picking time at Palm Belgian Craft Brewers!

STEENHUFFEL - The annual hop harvest at Palm Belgian Craft Brewers is truly a festival of and for the people. We survey the busy crowds on the last Sunday in August in the hop field in the shadow of the ... [ more ]

Lindemix... the art of blending Lambic by Lindemans

VLEZENBEEK/DILBEEK - It is often said that lambics are only for those with an experienced palate. At Brouwerij Lindemans, one of Belgium’s favourite brewers of this traditional style, they beg to differ. ... [ more ]

Omer Vander Ghinste celebrates 125 years of brewing craftsmanship

KORTRIJK/BELLEGEM - It was in 1892 that Brouwerij Omer Vander Ghinste opened for business in Bellegem, a village near Kortrijk in West Flanders, close to the French border. Since then, countless... [ more ]

Brasserie de Brunehaut - In tune with the seasons

RONGY - In Rongy and all around it, spring is in the air. The fruit trees are in bloom and nature has put on its most beautiful face. I’m on my way to http://belgium.beertourism.com/belgian-breweries/brasserie-d... [ more ]

Westmalle Dubbel or Westmalle Tripel?

WESTMALLE - If you order a Westmalle you’re likely to be served with a Tripel. This is no coincidence as this strong blonde Trappist beer now accounts for 75% of the beer output of this http://belgium.beertouris... [ more ]

Cuvee_du_chateau225

More Beer

An exclusive beer deserves an exclusive glass. Thus, in addition to the characteristic Kasteel glass, a unique and appropriate degustation glass was designed especially for the Cu... [ more ]

Beer Tourism Newsletter Signup

Enter your name and email address on the right and click "SignUp" to join.

Name:
Email:
TWITTER
    FACEBOOK