MONS / LOUVAIN-LA-NEUVE - In September 2000, Brasserie Dubuisson unveiled its Le Brasse-Temps café-brewery in the university city of Louvain-la-Neuve. Three years on, a second brewpub bearing the same name was introduced in the Walloon city of Mons ('Bergen' in Dutch).
François Mertens was recently appointed Manager of Le Brasse-Temps Louvain-la Neuve in partnership with two others. François is now in charge of three establishments in Louvain-la-Neuve and knows how to do business in this city.
He explains: “Here, most people stay around for a few years before moving on again. That is very typical. A considerable part of Louvain-la-Neuve's population is here on a temporary basis."
"Consequently, you always have to make an effort to introduce Le Brasse-Temps to new customers who, hopefully, will stay around for quite a while. Our microbrewery is a tremendous asset."
"There is no other café where you can see a home-brewed beer flowing freshly out of the tanks. You can witness our brewer at work as he brews your beer.” Brewer Vincent Plancquaert divides his time between the two café-breweries. “We brew La Cuvée des Trolls, a beer that, by the way, was developed especially for Le Brasse-Temps,” Vincent tells us.
“The recently launched Surfine was tested here not too long ago, and the same applies to the Cuvée des Trolls. Both were put through their paces here and are now part of the standard Dubuisson range.”
The Cuvée des Trolls is not the only beer produced by Le Brasse-Temps. There are plenty more to choose from: the Ambrasse Temps amber beer (5.5% ABV); Blanche Neuve, a white beer (4.5%), the Brasse-Temps des Cerises fruit beer (5%); the Temps des Brunes autumn beer (6%) and finally the light summer beer Brasse-Temps Citron (3.5%).
One student ritual is known as 'the rafale'. Those who dare will delve into a range of beers with varying tastes and alcohol content, starting off with feather light, ending up with – what else? - Top heavy.
So, is microbrewing different from brewing for a large brewery? “Yes, there is a marked difference,” brewer Vincent Plancquaert replies. “Here, we only ever have one brew fermenting at any one time. "
"The large breweries will produce a blend of several brews so they can offer consistent quality. Here, every single brew has to be just right. What’s more, we do not filter or pasteurise our brews, but we will decant them so we can produce a clear beer.”
The brewer is busy from dawn till dusk. He will start off brewing the lighter coloured beers before embarking on the amber and then the dark beers. After all, you would not want your white beer to take on a dark colour in the glass.
Under new management, the Brasse-Temps in Louvain-la-Neuve is shifting its focus to the (beer) kitchen. The menu is being revised with plenty of care and attention to get it just right. This café-brewery seats 90.
The Brasse-Temps in Mons is one size up, with 290 seats. The kitchen here knows what it is doing and does it very well, just like the brewery-tavern Troll & Bush, another venture of Brasserie Dubuisson located in Pipaix.
The Brasse-Temps attracts a very mixed crowd. Everyone is received with open arms, from business people to shoppers, movie-goers to day trippers, students and families with young children. There is a separate room for business meetings.
“We started up this Brasse-Temps in partnerhip with Moresto, who specialise in the café and restaurant trade,” Marc Lemay, who has been a commercial manager with Brasserie Dubuisson for many years, tells us.
“I kid you not, running a café brewery such as this one takes special skills. We are brewers - We make sure that the beer is the best it can be. Our partner, Vincent Coussement, has a Moresto background so he comes from the world of catering. Vincent is already managing three restaurants in Mouscron so he knows what people expect from a set-up such as ours.”
With all this expertise on tap, it is no surprise that business at the Brasse-Temps in Mons is booming. Although the seating area was increased from 190 to 290 a few years ago, not including the additional 90 seats on the terrace, there are queues here at busy times.
This Brasse-Temps employs 15 full-time staff and occasional help is called upon when needed. “Here, we are not into major gastronomy,” Vincent Coussement explains. “People like to be served quickly at lunchtime or before or after the movies... Our entire organisation is geared to that."
"Having said all this, we do like to encourage our customers to taste new beers and try new suggestions from the menu. Our aim is to offer new surprises all the time. This keeps things exciting for our regular customers.”
Unsurprisingly, beer takes up a prominent place within the brasserie. Both Brasse-Temps venues play an important role in the promotion of the Dubuisson beers. A drop of word of mouth advertising soon turns into a stream of publicity for new beers that were tasted and liked by customers. The same applies to tastings of the gastronomic Dubuisson beers that come in large (75cl) bottles but are poured into small glasses for serving.
“There’s a great interaction with the brewery,” is the opinion of Marc Lemay. “We have found that 85% of the visitors to our website are searching for information about the Troll & Bush and Brasse-Temps restaurants."
"In this way, people immediately make the link between the beer and our kitchen.”
Brasserie Dubuisson and Moresto can look back with satisfaction upon their 10-year partnership. Both companies are family-owned and both adhere to the same business philosophy with quality being paramount. “When we chose Moresto, we wanted to play safe rather than being adventurous,” Marc Lemay tells us.
Brasse-Temps, freely translated, means ‘time to brew’. But we would translate it as ‘time to enjoy’. If you don’t take the time, you don’t know what you are missing.
Boulevard André Delvaux 1/2
+ 32 (0) 65 84 94 14
Place des Brabançons 4
+ 32 (0)10 45 70 27