Castle Brewery Van Honsebrouck started life as a local brewery that was known for its regional beers. An example is the Bacchus Oudbruin, a Flemish red-brown beer that is typical of the region around Kortrijk (Courtrai) and Roeselare. Bacchus Oud Bruin is a blend of a young, top-fermented beer and a matured, slightly ‘soured’ foeder beer.
In the 1950s Van Honsebrouck proved that it is possible to brew lambic beers – gueuze, kriek – one hundred kilometres away from Brussels, the birthplace of lambic. The Van Honsebrouck St-Louis label now includes gueuze, kriek and fruit beers. Typical of these spontaneous fermentation beers is that no yeast is added. Spontaneous fermentation occurs when the wort for the lambic mother beer comes in contact with the wild yeasts (Brettanomyces) - present in the ambient air – when it is transferred to the open koelschip to cool down. The gueuze is a lambic that re-ferments in the bottle. To produce kriek and kriek lambic, krieken juice and entire krieken cherries respectively are added to the lambic. For the Peche peach juice is added instead.
Kasteel, introduced in the 1980s, was the brewery’s answer to the success of the abbey beers at the time. Throughout the years the range was substantially widened with the Kasteel Blond, Bruin and Tripel as well as the more strongly hopped Kasteel Hoppy and the Kasteel Rouge, a blend of Kasteel Donker and cherry liqueur. The brewery is not confining itself to the rich Belgian beer tradition, however. From time to time, Van Honsebrouck launches innovative beers that may or not be inspired by existing beers and beer styles.
The ‘By Kasteel’ range is a byword for innovative brews born from the existing Kasteel family. Cuvée du Chateau is just like a Kasteel Donker that has spent years maturing in the bottle. Trignac XII, a degustation beer, is a barrel-aged Kasteel Tripel matured in barrels previously used for cognac. Barista Chocolate Quad brings together the worlds of beer, coffee and chocolate.
Thanks to the additions of the rebellious Brigand triple, the strong blonde thirst-quencher that goes by the name of Filou and the strong dark Slurfke, beloved by all, the range is now complete. Let’s give a special mention to the Passchendaele. This light, blonde, top-fermented beer is like a pils, but with a more pronounced taste. It forms the bridge between pils and specialty beer. All Van Honsebrouck beers go down smoothly. The brewer’s main focus is on the balance between bitterness, a full-bodied taste and alcohol feel. In this respect, Van Honsebrouck fits right in with the Belgian brewing tradition.