HOW IT ALL BEGAN
1811 - One day in WerkenThe brewing dynasty starts with the founder Amandus Vanhonsebrouck. He is the mayor of the village of Werken, where he owns a farm that includes a dairy, a brewery and a distillery. After his sudden death in 1865, Emile - one of the ten children - succeeds him as both brewer and mayor.
1900 - The Sint Jozef brewery is bornTogether with his wife Louise De Poorter, Emile moves into the family farm in Werken. However, Louise does not get on with her mother-in-law. The young couple decide to leave the village of Werken to start up their own brewery. In 1900 the Van Honsebrouck - De Poorters move into a modest farm in Ingelmunster, the birth place of Louise. The Sint Jozef brewery is born.
1922 - After the First World WarAs the mother of five children, Louise also manages to run the brewery successfully. It turns out that her husband Emile is not cut out to be in charge of a brewery. When Emile is almost eighty years old, Louise decides to leave the brewery to their son Paul. Together with his brother Ernest, he manages to keep the brewery going after the destruction wrought by the First World War.
1930 - Expansion of the breweryThe brothers are ambitious and manage to expand the brewery with a new four-storey building. The new building comprises a maltings, water basins and storage facilities for barley. The ground floor becomes a storage room for barrels: fifteen foeders with a capacity of 180 to 250 hectoliters each. The renovations are accompanied by the launch of an aged brown beer that quickly gains popularity.
1939 - Payment in beerNine years later, the renovation is concluded with the addition of a new brewing hall, tank hall and bottling plant. To fund the expansion, the brothers have a great agreement with the contractor. They pay half the works in cash and the other half ‘in kind’, in other words, in beer (yes, that was still possible at the time).
1945 - Pils and exportAfter the Second World War, the brothers also specialise in exporting and brewing pils. The switch to the production of this type of beer takes a great deal of money and effort but it does not exactly set the tills ringing. Yet the brothers manage to keep the brewery going.
1953 - Luc in chargeWhen Paul becomes seriously ill at a relatively young age, someone must take over the brewery. Ernest and his wife have remained childless, so one of Paul's seven children must succeed him. One of the older sons, Luc, decides to study to become a brewer and learns the ropes in Wuppertal, Germany. After his studies and internship at the Wicküler-Kupperbrauerei, he takes over the family business.
1956 - BacchusLuc realises that the small Sint Jozef brewery isn't able to compete with the large pils breweries. He therefore decides to concentrate on the production of an aged brown beer, naming it Bacchus. He completely stops brewing pils and changes the name of the brewery to Vanhonsebrouck.
1957 - Lambic in the Lys regionThe success of Bacchus gives Luc the idea to create a second specialty beer, gueuze. Until that time, this beer style was only brewed in the Zenne valley. But how do you transfer the wild yeasts needed for spontaneous fermentation from the Zenne valley to Ingelmunster, which is about 100 kilometres away? In 1957 Luc buys lambic wort from Van Haelen Frères in Uccle and pumps the wort into the foeders used to mature the Bacchus. Then he transfers the yeast culture from one foeder to the next and thus, based on a relatively small quantity of lambic wort, he manages to produce sufficient lambic for his own gueuze and kriek. The St-Louis Gueuze and Kriek are officially launched in 1958.
1971 - West Flemish Lambic wortThe St-Louis beers are a hit. In 1971 it appears that the Van Haelen Frères wort has taken root in the brewery in Ingelmunster and created its own habitat. This means that the lambic wort brought over from Brussels is no longer needed. St-Louis can now be brewed entirely in West Flanders.
1978 - Beginning of the gueuze warVanhonsebrouck introduces gueuze on tap and becomes the second largest producer of gueuze in the country. By offering gueuze on tap, Vanhonsebrouck steals a march on its competitor Belle-Vue from Brussels. The market leader Belle-Vue feels compelled to follow. In 1978, the competition between Belle-Vue and St-Louis battles out on the football pitch. Anderlecht displays Belle-Vue on the jerseys and its archrival Club Brugge is sponsored by St-Louis. This marks the start of the 'gueuze war', which lasts for a long time, but it does significantly boost sales.
1980 - Emergence of specialty beersSpecialty beers start gaining popularity across the country. Luc therefore decides to brew a new beer, which he names Brigand. The name is a subtle reference to the rebels during the French Occupation in 1798.
1984 - Royal visitThe Royal Brew Society of Kortrijk celebrates its 75th anniversary. As chairman, Luc welcomes Prince Albert and Princess Paola. The visit includes the customary speeches and tours. Luc knows that the prince does not drink beer. However, at the end of the visit, he manages to convince the prince to take a sip of Brigand. "It's champagne", Prince Albert hears Luc saying while he cautiously takes a sip.
1986 - The town of BrigandBrigand is becoming increasingly popular and the municipality of Ingelmunster is aware of this. Therefore, in January the municipality decides to officially rename Ingelmunster 'the town of Brigand'. The first Brigand parade takes place in March. This tradition will last for years. The heart of the Vanhonsebrouck family belongs to Ingelmunster, which is why the family decide to purchase Ingelmunster Castle. Both the castle and the park are now open to the public. This way, the municipality has also gained a tourist attraction.
1990 - Brussels versus IngelmunsterThe lambic brewers from the Brussels region are not happy about the West Flemish gueuze and lambic. They therefore call for a Royal Decree with the condition that both beer styles can only be brewed within a 20-kilometre radius from Brussels. Luc files an appeal against the impending Royal Decree and argues, "If they think, over in Brussels, that here in Ingelmunster we cannot produce a gueuze, they are seriously mistaken." To this day, the Vanhonsebrouck family is allowed to produce gueuze and lambic in the Lys region.
1991 - The Castle as a source of inspirationIngelmunster Castle is still owned by the Vanhonsebrouck family. In 1989, it inspires Luc Vanhonsebrouck to brew a dark speciality beer. Kasteel Donker, the very first beer in the Kasteel range, is introduced to the general public in 1991 and becomes an instant hit. The Kasteelbier brand is born and a few years later, in 1996, Kasteel Blond and Kasteel Tripel are added to the range.
1997 - Approved by Michael JacksonIn 1992, beer aficionado Jef Van den Steen claims that St-Louis Gueuze would become even more popular if it also came in an unfiltered, bottle-fermented version. Luc Vanhonsebrouck accepts the challenge and in 1997 he launches St-Louis Gueuze Fond Tradition in the presence of the late 'beer hunter' Michael Jackson.
2001 - Launch of Premium fruit beersThe St-Louis Premium beers are sweet fruit beers with aromas of cherries, raspberries or peach. These fresh thirst-quenchers with a low alcohol content are brewed with a lambic base.
2007 - A Kasteel beer unlike the othersThe new Kasteel Rouge beer is a unique blend of Kasteel Donker and macerated cherries. The latest addition to the Kasteel range is a specialty beer for lovers of sweet cherries. The success of Kasteel Rouge is spreading to other countries in Eastern and Western Europe, Russia, China and the United States of America.
2009 - Five, four, two"Do you know what the numbers 5, 4 and 2 stand for?", Xavier Vanhonsebrouck asks. On 1 January 2009, he succeeds his father Luc. By that time, Xavier has been working at the brewery for over twenty years, mainly in sales and exports. But what about those numbers? "I am the fifth brewer in the Vanhonsebrouck family, the fourth to wield the mashing stick in Ingelmunster and the second one to only produce specialty beers."
2010 - Beer with notes of portWhat happens if you mature Kasteel Donker for nine years? You produce a gastronomic beer with beautiful impressions of port. However, Xavier Vanhonsebrouck does not want to wait that long and challenges his master brewer Hans to develop a beer with the characteristics of an aged Kasteel Donker. The result is Cuvée du Château, a young beer with the full – madeirised – aromas and the flavour of aged Kasteel Donker.
2013 - The year of challengesKasteel Brouwerij Vanhonsebrouck is not afraid of colouring outside the lines. Banking on the success of Cuvée du Château, the brewer comes up with the idea of maturing Kasteel Tripel in vintage cognac barrels. The Trignac is born! The Indian Pale Ale is booming and continues to gain popularity. To respond to the IPA trend, Kasteel Hoppy is developed with a bitterness of 45 EBU. However, unlike the IPA, Kasteel Hoppy is very mild in taste.
Like father, like son. Just like Luc, Xavier isn't afraid of a challenge. According to yeast expert Filip Delvaux, it is impossible to produce a top-fermented pils beer. Vanhonsebrouck proves the opposite with the Passchendaele. In collaboration with the municipality of Zonnebeke, Passchendaele is officially launched as a 'remembrance beer' of the First World War. Part of the proceeds from its sale go to the foundation to help fund the upkeep of war cemeteries and war monuments in the Westhoek region (the famous Flanders Fields).
2014 - Filou, the little rascalA new year, a new specialty beer. Vanhonsebrouck launches Filou, a genuine thirst-quencher but with enough complexity to be appreciated by lovers of specialty beers. The little rascal - Filou - depicted on both the bottle and the glass, has his eye on you, catapult at the ready. Filou quickly gains popularity and proudly supports football club KV Oostende, basketball club Filou Oostende and volleyball club Knack Roeselare.
2015 - When beer meets chocolateVanhonsebrouck continues to experiment with surprising flavours and combinations. The icing on the cake is the Barista Chocolate Quad, a successful blend of beer and coffee. This strong dark beer boasts clear notes of chocolate with aromas of roasted malt. The Barista Chocolate Quad is a unique beer to end a meal.
In the same year, Kasteel Brouwerij Vanhonsebrouck decides to join forces with the producers of the popular Flemish soap 'Thuis'. In this fictional TV series, the main character Eddy brews his own dark beer. The fans of 'Thuis' want to taste the beer, so Vanhonsebrouck decides to produce it. Slurfke, a strong dark beer, is born!
2016 - Brewery of the futureAn important year has come for Kasteel Brouwerij Vanhonsebrouck. The old brewery in Ingelmunster permanently closes its doors. The new site in Emelgem is now home to a brand-new, fully integrated brewery, with the equipment to produce all of the Vanhonsebrouck beers and handle both logistics and storage. The construction of the new site took two years and cost 40 million euros. The result is the most modern brewery in Europe. The production process is being expanded from 100,000 to 200,000 hectolitres.
The new brewery does not only focus on more efficient production, but also on offering visitors an unforgettable experience. There is a restaurant where you can eat beer-based dishes and at Michelle's Pub you can taste all the beers in combination with a snack. At the Beer Boutique, visitors can buy all the beers in the range, as well as gadgets and beer pralines. The new site also includes a venue for corporate events and weddings.
2018 - Filou runs for a good causeIn the framework of 'De Warmest Week' - an initiative by Flemish radio station Studio Brussel - the brewery organises the first Filou Run. The participants follow a unique trail through the modern brewery. All the proceeds of the event go to charity. Following a successful first edition, Filou will put on a pair of running shoes once again for the second edition in 2019. During this second edition, the participants are also allowed to walk instead of running to raise money for charity.
2019 - A year of firsts2019 is set to be a packed year. The brewery starts the year with the rebranding of its Kasteel beers. Ingelmunster Castle disappears from the beer label and makes way for a sleek, modern design.
In 2019, the first real Belgian 'Strekenbier' is also launched - a fun beer for prank lovers. Filou, the little rascal, immediately lives up to his name by blocking the entrance to the Flemish Parliament with beer crates. A fun way to congratulate the newly elected MPs - with the signature Filou touch. In late 2019 the beer is featured in the fourth F.C De Kampioenen film. When the cast of De Kampioenen visits the brewery, Filou pulls a prank on actress Loes Van den Heuvel.
The highlight of the year is undoubtedly the launch of the in-hosue canning line. Kasteel Brouwerij Vanhonsebrouck is the first Belgian brewer of specialty beers to introduce its own production line for canned beer. The canning line is the result of a successful collaboration with several international partners: AG Krones, Ball Beverage Packaging and Smurfit Kappa. In an interview, the CEO of Smurfit Kappa praises the innovative character of the family brewery from Izegem: "Xavier and his team really pushed Smurfit Kappa to outdo itself. The result proves that we can definitely make a difference when working with companies like Kasteel Brouwerij Vanhonsebrouck."
With this canning line, the brewery is taking an important step towards a more sustainable future. An aluminium can requires less transport, can be recycled over and over, and also benefits the beer itself. In addition, the FSC packaging of Smurfit Kappa bans single-use plastics. The first beers on the canning line are Kasteel Rouge, Filou, Barista Chocolate Quad, Bacchus Raspberry Beer and Bacchus Cherry Beer.
2020 - Nitro Infused Belgian TraditionIn March 2020, the world is hit by a health crisis. To counter the spread of Covid-19, Michelle's Pub is forced to close its doors. However, the team pulls up its sleeves and starts working on making Michelle's Pub an even greater success. The old restaurant is converted into Michelle's Pub & Brasserie. The extensive brasserie menu, the tap wall with all the Vanhonsebrouck speciality beers and the cosy interior have been a hit from day 1.
In late 2020, the brewery opens a subsidiary in the US state of Michigan. Through Kasteel USA, the family brewery is investing in a stable import of Belgian speciality beers in the United States of America. The start-up of Kasteel USA is accompanied by the launch of a brand-new range of canned beers: Nitro Infused Belgian Tradition beers. These specialty beers contain a shot of nitrogen. To activate the nitrogen, shake the can three times and pour the beer vertically. The result is a delicious beer with a full, creamy taste and a thick, lacing head. The range, consisting of 5 Kasteel Nitro beers and 3 Bacchus Nitro beers, is set to be launched in other countries in 2021.
2021 - Kasteel celebrates its 30th birthdayKasteel beer is turning 30 in 2021. That deserves to be celebrated! The label of Kasteel Donker, Kasteel Tripel and Kasteel Rouge has been given a festive touch. The top of the pennant features the number of years the Kasteel beer brand has existed. Below the shield and the name of the specialty beer there are three stars. Each star symbolises a decade of Kasteel. The stars will continue to adorn the beer labels even after the anniversary year.
To mark '30 years of Kasteel', Kasteel Brouwerij Vanhonsebrouck is brewing a new specialty beer. With Kasteel Xtra, the brewery is responding to the demand for specialty beers with a low alcohol content but extra flavour. With the launch of Kasteel Xtra, Kasteel Hoppy and Kasteel Blond will disappear from the brewery's range.