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

Brunehaut, from the field to the brewhouse

Email  •  Print

Author: Erik Verdonck / Published: 2016-07-12 10:16:07 +0200 / Last Updated: over 1 year ago

Marc-Antoine De Mees, Brasserie de Brunehaut, organic and gluten-free beer Marc-Antoine De Mees

RONGY - A sense of terroir permeates the village of Rongy, nestling amongst the wheat fields and fruit orchards that spread as far as the eye can see. Brasserie de Brunehaut has taken up the torch of a former, Saint Martin Abbey beer, Marc-Antoine De Mees, Brunehaut brewery A happy owner
traditional village brewery.

It stays ‘close to the source’ and, wherever possible, works with ingredients from the local area. And the Brunehaut range of beers is organic and gluten-free.

Soon their St Martin abbey beers will be produced in an organic way too. “The first recognised abbey beers to carry a ‘bio label’, or an organic label”, brewery owner Marc-Antoine De Mees tells us.

You cannot have green beers without a green company, which is why this brewer is putting his money into environmentally friendly technology.

Think of solar panels, heat recovery as part of the brewing process and energy-saving LED lighting.

This is more than a marketing gimmick. Marc-Antoine has no time for ‘greenwashing’. What he does have time for is dealing with the environment in a responsible way. “We are not making things easy for ourselves,” he laughs.

“If you brew in an organic way, you have to use organically grown ingredients. There are not so many of these on the market and this puts limits on our creativity." Domaine de Graux Domaine de Graux

"Also, the ingredients are more expensive to purchase and finally, we have to follow strict procedures."

"The entire organic, or ‘bio’ chain, is kept entirely separate from the traditional chain."

“The ‘organic’ label is awarded by organisations that inspect food quality. They carry out inspections several times a year, sometimes with prior notice, sometimes without."

"They will take samples and test them for traces of nitrates, pesticides, chemicals and other substances. They also go through our accounts with a fine-tooth comb.”

Marc-Antoine De Mees, Brunehaut brewery, organic barley Marc-Antoine checking up on his barley

Own Barley First

In the less densely populated south of our country, the farms are often surrounded by large tracts of land. The origin of many breweries lies on these farms. Often you will find evidence of former Brunehaut Pomfraiz' organic and gluten free beer Pomfraiz' organic and gluten free beer
agricultural activity around them, or architecture that is typical of a farmhouse.

Younger brewers want a shorter production chain. For example, they may collect their barley from a nearby farmer or even grow it themselves.

Brunehaut owns the Ferme de Graux, a traditional farmhouse with 120 hectares of land, 12 kilometres from the brewery.

The farmhouse has undergone extensive renovations: the stables converted into a venue for parties and receptions. However, this is only part of the story.

“We are offering young people the opportunity to start up their own agricultural business,” Marc-Antoine tells us.

“Before long we will be self-sufficient and the proceeds of the farm will feed 300 families.”

Our walk ends up at a small field of barley. The owners have sown 18th-century English varieties, never touched by pesticides. “We carefully select a strong organic barley that suits our way of brewing,” Brasserie De Brunehaut, Domaine de Graux, Black Angus cattle Marc-Antoine's Black Angus

Marc-Antoine explains. “Brewing with barley from your own lands, what could be better than that?”

Goats from the French Poitou region provide milk for the cheese; bees provide the honey and pollinate the fruit; the vegetable garden yields a great crop of tomatoes, salad vegetables, beans and carrots.

A small herd of Black Angus cattle are peacefully grazing in the green meadows surrounding the farm.

These magnificent animals are kept outside all the year around and are, unsurprisingly, fed only with 100% natural cattle feed.

Brasserie De Brunehaut, organic and gluten free beer, delivery van The Brunehaut beermobile

Local Exhuberance

We make our way to Doornik (Tournai). Marc-Antoine shows me the splendid 12th-century Romanesque crypt from the former St Martin’s abbey that Brunehaut beer, Saint Martin Triple, Tournai market square Tournai market square
is located in the basement of the city hall.

However, our expedition to the world-famous cathedral with its five spires does not bear fruit.

We had wanted to admire the original of the image that adorns the Brunehaut beer glasses, a stained glass window showing St Martin.

Unfortunately the interior of the church is being restored and is not open to the public. Oh well, onwards and upwards.

Summer has arrived in the market square. The weather makes the locals thirsty and their ‘quality control’ is more exuberant than ever.

At the terrace of Le Beffroi the Brunehaut beer is going down very well.

We end our quest in Café La Cloute in Rumes on the French border. Here lovers of vintage cars get together from time to time. We travel back in time to the 1960s. A Jimi Hendrix song bursts out from the wallpaper. Marc-Antoine says: “I’ll stand a round. A Brunehaut Blonde on tap, everyone?”

Visit the Brewery and Domaine de Graux

Brasserie de Brunehaut
Rue des Panneries 17
B-7623 Rongy

Facebook: Brunehaut Brewery / Domaine de Graux

Recent Blog Posts

Showcasing the Belgian art of living, Horecatel 2018
MARCHE-EN-FAMENNE - “Their cuisine is on a par with that of the French and the portions are generous...” When people discuss the Belgian art of living, it won’t be long before the term ‘Burgundian’ ... [ read more ]
Bruges Beer Festival 2018: your window on the Belgian beer world
BRUGES - Eleven years ago it all started off on quite a modest scale in the medieval town hall of Bruges, under the imposing gaze of the Belfry. Now, in 2018, the Bruges Beer Festival has spread its w ... [ read more ]
Anthony Martin, a Belgian brewer with British roots
GENVAL - It’s 1909 when John Martin, a Brit, makes his home in Antwerp, earning his living by provisioning sailing vessels. Before long John’s deliveries are heading onto the ships of the Red Star Lin ... [ read more ]
Brussels Beer Challenge 2017, the results are in!
NAMUR - At the 6th edition of the Brussels Beer Challenge, hosted this year by the city of Namur, Belgium once again lived up to its cast-iron reputation as one of the most important beer countries in ... [ read more ]
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 t ... [ read more ]


You must be logged in to leave a comment



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 [ more ]


More Beer

The Saint-Martin abbey beers are heirs to the former Abbey of Saint-Martin in Doornik (Tournai), one of the oldest cities in Belgium. The abbey was founded many centuries ago and c... [ more ]

Beer Tourism Newsletter Signup

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