Van Honsebrouck, the West Flanders brewer of Kasteel and St Louis beers among others, has started operations in its new brewery in Izegem, which is still under construction.
Van Honsebrouck is spending €40 million on the new brewery, which is unusual in being one of the few times ever in Flemish brewing that a brewer moved house completely, in this case from Ingelmunster to Izegem some five kilometres away. Work started on the new brewery in September 2014, and the plant should be fully operational in January 2016.
The first task is to carry out some test brewings. “We want to take care from the start to provide our customers with the same high-quality beer as they’re used to,” said CEO Xavier Van Honsebrouck. “The Van Honsebrouck brewery has been active in the centre of Ingelmunster since 1900. To ensure our future, we intend to meet the challenge of a very demanding marketplace, and the fact that customers are more than ever open to new tastes and new discoveries. That would not be possible within the confines of the old brewery.”
The new brewery, on a 7.5 hectare site in Izegem, will have a capacity of 200,000 hectolitres – twice as much as at present. The new capacity will allow Van Honsebrouck to increase its export drive while still serving the home market. “Export is very important, given the increasing demand for and interest in Belgian specialty beers,” Van Honsebrouck said. “We aim to make a contribution toward strengthening the image of Belgian beer.”
“The new brewery will be a creative beacon for the town and for the area,” said Flemish minister-president Geert Bourgeois – himself a native of Izegem – in a statement to mark the first test brew. “It will contain not only a brew hall but also a bottling line, a microbrewery, offices, a tasting room, meeting places and an exhibition space for businesses, together with a visitor’s centre.”