No.1 travel guide for Belgium. Discover Belgian beer and food in Hasselt.

Bio-beer in Belgium: Arvum, from brewery Jessenhofke


Email  •  Print

Author: Erik Verdonck / Published: 2014-03-27 15:06:10 +0100 / Last Updated: almost 3 years ago

Brewery Jessenhofke Brewery Jessenhofke
© BeerTourism.com


HASSELT - “1, 2, 3… pour!” The organic brewer and the organic farmer are both waiting anxiously. At long last, the first barrel of Arvum has been cracked open. We're in café Den Egel, right in the centre of Hasselt. Arvum - golden & green
© BeerTourism.com
The beer we're pouring – Arvum, or Latin for ‘field’ – is the fruit of a collaboration between local ‘bio’ farmer Pieter Coopmans, and Gert Jordens. His organic brewery, Jessenhofke, is based in the town.

Eco-credentials abound with the resulting brew. Pieter the farmer supplies his organic barley, which is grown in the grounds of the former Herkenrode abbey, near Hasselt. And Gert watches out for those 'beer-miles'.

“Arvum is a short-chain beer”, he explains. “We source our ingredients as closely as possible to the brewery, to cut down on transport.” And as to the beer's taste credentials?

Well, Arvum (6.0% ABV) is styled as a blonde beer, with a hint of sweet and sour underneath, topped by a pronounced hop bitterness.

Grower of organic hops, Joris Cambie of De Plukker in Poperinge, provides Arvum's hop medley, varieties that are English to the core – Challenger, Kent Golding and Fuggles. These three hops are present in all Jessenhofke beers, albeit Jessenhofke Belgian 'krieken' (cherries)
© Brewery Jessenhofke
in different proportions. The beer also contains organic pils malt, wheat malt, as well as a dash of raw and malted barley.

Plans are afoot to malt the barley in-house in the near future. The spring water used in its brewing contains starch, provided by seitan (wheat gluten) producer Maya.

Also based in Hasselt, Maya is tapped (unsurprisingly) for another of Jessenhofke’s brews – the Maya (6% ABV). Finally, unrefined candy sugar is the last addition to the Arvum mix.


Jessenhofke © Brewery Jessenhofke


A rest for the spirit

Arvum is brought to the market after some six weeks, when it has fermented fully. The slogan on the label needs no further explanation: ‘Just like the farmland, the spirit has to Jessenhofke Gert Jordens samples his new brew
© BeerTourism.com
rest from time to time, to regain its fertility’. Beer lovers and nature lovers alike, it seems, can rest assured with Arvum.

Drink one of these brews, and you will be doing your bit for nature – as well as for the sympathetic landscape management at play in the grounds of the Abdijsite Herkenrode. The abbey receives part of the proceeds of Arvum's sales.

Gert Jordens started his brewing of organic beers with a view to a sustainable business model, in the true sense of the word. What gave him the idea? Disappointment, it seems, was his spur.

When in France he tasted a 'frankly unpalatable' organic beer and decided there and then to set up his own brewing business, one that would do 'bio-beers' justice. It probably helped that brewing was already in his blood.

His grandfather was a jenever (gin) distiller, in charge of the very same distilling equipment now on display in Hasselt's jenever museum. From a young age Gert was intrigued Brewery Jessenhofke © Brewery Jessenhofke
by Grandad’s herbal mixtures. “I started experimenting with an ordinary soup cauldron, a plastic jerry-can and some copper piping.”

This is how an IT specialist started off his second life as a hobby brewer. For now, Gert develops his beers at home and outsources the production to Brouwerij Anders in Halen. But all that will change at the beginning of this summer.

That's when Jessenhofke will be moving to an old flour mill on the Albertkanaal in Hasselt. This will provide space for both limited production and tasting sessions, as well as for the novel concept of ‘brewing together’, an idea to promote team-building.


Brewery Jessenhofke Farmer Pieter Coopmans
© Brewery Jessenhofke


Bio with brio

Belgian breweries that only produce organic beers are still rather thin on the ground. But there other pioneers. Joris Cambie, for example, who provides Gert with organic hops, is a brewer Brewery Jessenhofke Jessenhofke's Arvum
© BeerTourism.com
as well: he produces the blonde, hoppy Keikoppenbier (6.1% ABV).

And it's not just the barley that's self-grown. Inside the brewing kettle you will only find hop bells from Joris’s own farm in Poperinge.

He prides himself on being able to brew with these green hops, freshly reared and picked by his own hand.

It does mean, however, that it's only in September that brewing can be done. That's when Joris' hops are freshly gathered from the field.

Having his hop flowers go straight from the tendrils into the boiling kettle undoubtedly brings out their flavour.

To maximise the impact of that undisputed freshness, Joris is planning to start developing single hop beers.


Jessenhofke © Brewery Jessenhofke


Old-school organics

There are others ploughing Belgium's organic furrow, a little further out from Hasselt. Den Hopperd, found 30 miles west in Westmeerbeek, is on many-a-list of organic breweries – Jessenhofke Lady of the house Christel
© BeerTourism.com
especially as it's one of the oldest. Production of its Kameleon beers actually started in 1995.

'Hopperd' is an old Dutch word for hopped wort, so this a brewery that tips its hat to tradition, as well as to Mother Nature.

With its traditional brewing methods, and a bold stance of 'no additives', comes an intriguing aspect to traditional beer-tasting experience – variability. Not that Den Hopperd is worried about this.

It is alleged that this organic brewery is proud of the fact that its beers subtly shift flavours – and that's why its prime brew range is named after the shape-shifting chameleon.

Apt, as it certainly can't be denied that those going the 'bio' path are adding some extra colour to Belgium's already many-coloured-coat of brewing styles.


Hasselt Blog Posts

Belgian beer shops: Prik & Tik Marlou
ZONHOVEN/HASSELT - Drinks specialist Prik & Tik "Marlou" in Zonhoven near Hasselt is the type of shop that will feature in the dreams of any beer lover. “We have 1,000 Belgian beers in store, 400 ... [ read more ]
Tastes of Limburg: Hasselt
HASSELT - This city definitely is a tasty destination. Despite its size it’s a surprisingly diverse city with a wide choice of restaurants and specialty shops, perfect for those who want to explore ... [ read more ]

Comments


You must be logged in to leave a comment


SHARE:
 



HASSELT

TRAVEL GUIDE

BLOG

POSTS
Best of Belgium Beer & Bites pops up at Brussels Airport

BRUSSELS/ZAVENTEM - This year Brussels Airport is 60 years young! The airport is planning to mark this milestone by showcasing the very best of Belgian produce, which would not be complete without ... [ more ]

Trappist beer meets whisky, Chimay Grande Réserve Fermentée en Barriques 2018

At the BeerLovers’ Café just behind Liège’s City Hall we get together to taste the limited edition Chimay Grande Réserve Fermentée en Barriques 2018, a Trappist beer aged in whisky barrels. T... [ more ]

Palm and Rodenbach - now under the banner of Swinkels Family Brewers

LIESHOUT/STEENHUFFEL - Since 2016 the Palm, De Hoorn and Rodenbach breweries have been owned by Bavaria, a Dutch-based brewer. Two years after the takeover, Bavaria has been re-named Swinkels Family ... [ more ]

The Brewers Of Europe Forum 2018

BRUSSELS - To be authentic is not a competition and neither is it a fashionable attitude. You either are an authentic brewer or you are not. You are driven, you make great beers that have a soul, you have a good story to... [ more ]

Zythos 2018. Watch out… there’s some heritage about!

LEUVEN - 12,500 fans made their way to Leuven for what was already the 15th edition of the Zythos beer festival. Many fans travelled a long way to get to Belgium. They flocked here from many European ... [ more ]

Trignac_225

More Beer

Trignac from Castle Brewery Van Honsebrouck was introduced in the spring of 2013 and is far more than a tripel matured in oak barrels. It is, in fact, the first genuine tripel mat... [ more ]

Beer Tourism Newsletter Signup

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

Name:
Email:
TWITTER
    FACEBOOK