Monday, January 9, 2012

Microbrouwerij Urthel and De Hoppeschuur

(Photo, above: Hildegard van Ostaden with the
first batch of beer she brewed at her new brewery.)

In late September last year, I visited the new Microbrouwerij
Urthel in Ruiselde, West Flanders. You might have heard of
the Urthel beers, such as Hop-It, a delectable Belgian Double
IPA with about 9.5% abv. (Yum!) Another, Saisonnière, is part
wheat beer, part saison, and part golden ale. It is fine session
brew of 6% abv. Urthel's Samaranth, a dark brown strong ale
weighing in at 11.5% abv, is well suited to the winter
season that we are now in.

(Photo, above: Hildegard in the brewhouse of
Microbrouwerij Urthel.)

These beers were all created by Hildegard van Ostaden,
and are currently brewed at La Trappe (Koningshoeven)
the Dutch Trappist brewery in the Netherlands.

(Microbrouwerij Urthel and Proeflokaal/Tasting cafe.
The locale is very peaceful, right by open fields and woods.)

Hildegard was trained at the brewing school at the
Catholic University of Ghent, and met her husband,
Bas, while working at Koningshoeven.

It was during their years there that they decided to
form Brouwerij de Leyerth. While Hildegard does
the brewing, Bas handles the marketing of the Urthel

(Bas with some Urthel Hop-It, and other libations.)

"For years, I wanted to have a brewery of my own, one
where I could experiment with beers in small batches
and be as creative as I desired," Hildegard told me in
my visit, on a beautiful, sunny, 80+ degree day.

"We had an open house in July, and I brewed the first
batch of beer on August 29," Hildegard told me as we
sipped Saisonnières and toured the brewery.

The Italian-built Spadoni MBS 150 system has a batch
size of 150 liters. That’s about 39 U.S. gallons. It will be
perfect for experimentation, and is a very efficient and
easy-to-use setup. Meaning: there will probably be lots
of small batch beers brewed on site. Due to this, is hard
to say when and if any might make it stateside.

(Photo, above: fermenters in Microbrouwerij Urthel.)

Hildegard plans to offer the possibility for people or
groups to have a beer brewed on site, for events like
weddings or other happenings. There is an outside
patio for warm-weather enjoyment. Beer lovers, take note:
there are already wooden barrels in the brewery where
beer will be aged! "I will experiment with all kinds of beer
styles," Hildegard commented.

(Photo, above: Hildegard pouring a beer inside the
tasting cafe/Proeflokaal.)

De Hoppeschuur ("The Hop Barn") restaurant will
feature another of Hildegard's talents: she is an
accomplished cook, as well as being a great brewer!

She told me: "We'll generally be open on Saturday
evenings and at lunchtime on Sundays, by reservation
only. I plan to offer just two or three different dishes per
day, paired with beer of course."

(Photo, above, Hildegard outside Microbrouwerij Urthel.)

This place is sure to be a destination spot for beer
lovers from around Belgium and the world! It's just
about ten minutes driving off the E40, the main
highway from Brugge to Brussels, and it's only
about 20 minutes to Brugge. The Hop Barn
(not shown here, as was not completed yet when
I visited) should be open in the near future, and
the brewery/cafe is open Saturdays and Sundays.
The address is Krommekeerstraat 21, Ruiselde,
West Flanders.


Unknown said...

Chuck--Great post and images. I agree it will make a great beer destination on future beer tours. I reposted you on my site and Facebook page to help drive some traffic your way.


Anonymous said...

Wow! She is she single Chuck? I think I'm in love.