We’ve said this time and time again- It is good to have friends that are well connected. Three months ago, our good friend Stu Stuart of BELGIAN BEER ME! BEER TOURS sent us an unexpected package while he was on his last beer tour in Belgium before he went on his Summer tour break.
We received this special package on June 17, 2016. There were four very special beers inside this package; none were available in our area of Redding, California (we’ve lamented over this fact more than once on this website). Three of the four beers would have not been normally available in the US market, but one was and is.
Stu followed up with an email on one of the beers he sent us:
“So, this Triple from Brunehaut is really special. It is made with a natural gluten-free process that no one else uses and one that Marc-Antoine De Mees does not fully disclose. It most certainly does not taste like the typical gluten-free beer.
In fact, when Marc-Antoine entered it in the 2013 Munich World Beer Cup (in the Tripel category) it won 3rd place. Then, when he revealed the fact that his beer was gluten free, they could not believe it! The other Brunehaut organic and gluten-free beers (the White and Blond) have won awards as well.”
Having done a BrewView on Brasserie de Brunehaut’s ST. MARTIN ABBEY BRUNE back in March 2014, receiving the BRUNEHAUT BIO / GLUTEN-FREE TRIPEL from Stu was a welcome treat, indeed… we’ve been wanting to try the Brunehaut line of beers for quite a long time! In honor of September being ORGANIC FARM TO TABLE MONTH, we bring you our BrewView…
ABOUT BRASSERIE DE BRUNEHAUT
Brasserie de Brunehaut is located in the village of Brunehaut, (Rongy) Belgium, a municipality of the town of Tournai (French pronunciation: [tuʁnɛ], in Flemish- Doornik, in Latin: Tornacum) in the province of Hainaut.
Brasserie de Brunehaut’s lineage traces back to 1096, as it references to the abbey of St. Martin in Tournai (with the St. Martin Abbey beers from Brasserie de Brunehaut bearing the name.) The abbey actually brewed beer for several hundred years until 1793, when a majority of the abbey was destroyed in the French Revolution.
In 1797, any standing remains from the destruction of the French Revolution, were removed. The Town Hall occupies part of the land where the abbey once stood. The last remains of the abbey can be viewed in the basement (crypts) of the current town hall.
In 1890, the original recipes were discovered and the brewery was brought back to life. The Allard family founded the Brunehaut brewery which was originally named the St. Joseph Brewery. The brewery became known for the quality of their beers in the region. The brewery was located on a farm (about 2 kilometers from the present location) and was owned by the Groetenbril family. By 1989, Brasserie Allard et Groetenbril became completely obsolete and shut its doors.
In 1990, Guy and Marie-Christine Valschaert, just coming back as expatriate brew masters in Africa, took over the Groetenbril – Brunehaut brewery and moved all of its equipment to the present-day buildings, what was once a former roof tile factory:
The Valschaert’s ran brewery operations from 1990 until the beginning of 2006. By mid 2006, Guy and Marie-Christine tried to put the brewery into liquidation, but finally fell bankrupt the same year. (NOTE: During the Valschaert years, we enjoyed the Brunehaut beers on a number of occasions, but remember their inconsistency at times with metallic, off flavors.) It was at the end of 2006 that a brewing equipment salesperson from Meura by the name of Marc-Antoine De Mees got word that Brunehaut had finally closed and was for sale. Being ever the entrepreneur, he recognized this as an opportunity of a lifetime to start a brewery, and to make a new and exciting impact in the Belgian beer industry. De Mees was perfectly suited for his new venture; he possessed a great deal of technical knowledge and expertise in professional brewing equipment. He would be the one to revive and rebrand the Brunehaut name.
Soon after purchasing the brewery, De Mees worked on improving the quality issues that were at hand. He recognized that the St. Martin and Brunehaut beers had potential, but did not want to be just another brewer entering an already crowded marketplace. He set out to differentiate his beers to be unique, and to satisfy the changing palates of the Belgian beer consumer.
After some R&D, Marc-Antoine De Mees successfully re-markets the St. Martin and Brunehaut beers to a receptive beer public in the beginning of 2007. His St. Martin Abbey beers are a TRUE Abbey beer; In 1999, the Union of Belgian Brewers introduced a “Certified Belgian Abbey Beer” (Erkend Belgisch Abdijbier) logo to indicate beers brewed under license to an existing or abandoned abbey, as opposed to other abbey-branded beers which the trade markets using other implied religious connections, such as a local saint. The requirements for registration under the logo include the monastery having control over certain aspects of the commercial operation, and a proportion of profits going to the abbey or to its designated charities. (SIDE NOTE: Marc-Antoine advised us that the St. Martin Abbey beers will be fully organic beginning in January 2017.)
The current BRUNEHAUT line of beers are all organic, gluten-free and vegan. The painstaking measures that Marc-Antoine takes to ensure that the highest quality raw materials are used, and brewing standards are met, are second to none.
The brewery’s current output capacity is now at 4,500 hectoliters ( 3,834.75 US barrel equivalent) They export to 25 different countries with the US making up for 75% of export production.
In the brew house, there stands a reliable 106 year-old mash filter once used by the Chimay Trappist brewery. “The MEURA mash filter is still working as a young boy,” De Mees tells us. The brewery also had an old filling machine also once used by Chimay, but has since been replaced last year by a brand new rinsing and filling machine in shining stainless steel.
*Modern and high performance machinery ensure scrupulous compliance with hygiene regulations and a top quality production with consistent flavor. Marc-Antoine De Mees and his staff are still equally enthusiastic to allow the discovery of this knowledge and method. (*Reference – Brunehaut.com)
ABOUT MARC-ANTOINE DE MEES
When Marc-Antoine De Mees purchased Brasserie de Brunehaut in late 2006, he began to develop beers that caught the eye (and taste buds) of modern Belgian beer consumers.
The beers are great tasting and address today’s health concerns- (organic, vegan, gluten free). While keeping the ancient brewing traditions and meshing them with modern technologies, His beers have won several awards in many prominent beer competitions across the globe.
As previously mentioned, De Mees ensures that strict and exacting standards (as it relates to organic brewing) are met. The brewery’s website even has a link for the consumer to obtain a certificate confirming that it has met “organic” brewing standards. There are detailed instructions at the website on how to obtain the certificate for your particular bottle that you hold in your hand. Just another step to ensure the beer you are drinking is truly organic!
A TRULY GREEN COMPANY
De Mees champions not only organic brewing, but also practicing green, environmentally friendly business operations. Solar panels and a heat recovery system provide energy for the brewing process. These two, (of many measures) is assuring that he is certainly not taking the easy way out. Being responsible is never easy.
The brewery has an advantage- they use fully organic barley grown at their own farm, Domaine De Graux / Ferme De Graux, a picturesque farm-estate just 10 miles from the brewery.
ABOUT DOMAINE DE GRAUX
Marc-Antoine and his wife live in this well-appointed country farm that supplies the brewery’s carefully selected organic barley. Domaine De Graux has been in his wife’s family for generations. De Mees gave us this brief historical factoid- “The farm was very briefly occupied by German officers in WWI, who forced the family to allow them to stop over, sleep and spend some days here.”
In the near 300 acres of agri-land, Domaine De Graux also produces organic veggies, and has many apple, pear, cherry, plum and quince trees lining its orchards. Many goats, and black angus cattle live out their comfortable days here, too. And of course, they are fed with 100% natural feed. Domaine De Graux also has beautiful banquet facilities for weddings and special events. Imagine holding a dinner party here… as we have said before, great beer creates great memories. The memories would be enhanced 1000 fold while enjoying one here!
Given all this, Brasserie de Brunehaut enjoys a strong sense of ‘Terroir’ in every sense of the word. The beers are true degustation beers, expertly crafted to enjoy with the most elegant meals reflecting the highest culinary art.
The demand for the St. Martin and Brunehaut beers is growing worldwide, and promises the brewery a bright financial future.
BEER STYLE AND COMMERCIAL DESCRIPTION
Style Category: Belgian Abbey-Style Tripel
Look: A more coppery appearance and maintained, antique or light with a good persistent head.
Nose: The nose is relatively discreet and elegant with fermented touches and fine yeasts. Quite fresh.
In the mouth: The flavour is full of freshness despite the alcohol content. Then there is the strong side, it is full, fat and long. Nevertheless elegance remains at the end.
Neither too sugary nor excessive caramel. A beer to drink with some hard cheeses, a young Comté with a fruity balance.
OUR BREWVIEW ON BRASSERIE DE BRUNEHAUT – BRUNEHAUT TRIPEL ORGANIC / GLUTEN-FREE
APPEARANCE / THE POUR:
8% ABV, we served it at 50° F in a tulip shaped glass. It easily poured a 3-finger height head. The head was super dense, white colored that is rocky with large and small bubbles. We ensured this was a “beer clean” glass.
The beer color is Pale Gold, SRM value of 4 . The meniscus is medium rising, rim variation color is slightly lighter.
The Brussels lacework the head left behind once it collapsed (it took around 7 minutes) was thick, patchy, cob-web like. NOTE: atmospheric temp in the room we were drinking this beer at was at least 90°F and during consumption, it still held a 1/2″ height until the bottom of the glass! We were amazed. NOTE: all BrewView evaluation notes here are with the yeast dump in the glass.
AROMA / BOUQUET:
The yeast profile is very fruity mixed in with fine grain aromas. This does not have the typical ‘bubblegum” aroma that many Belgian Tripels do. Excellent spicy phenols, citrus notes (Meyer Lemon). Dare we say it, there is almost a “Chardonnay” bouquet to it.
Our initial assertions were correct on it being a dry Tripel from our AROMA / BOUQUET evaluation. There is a nice hoppy dryness and citrus flavors (Grapefruit, Lemon) beautifully balanced out by the organic grain and bready yeast flavors. It most certainly does not taste like a typical gluten-free beer! NOTE: We actually tasted the beer before the yeast dump, and the hop bitterness was more prominent. With the yeast dump, it mellowed out the hops a bit.MOUTHFEEL / PALATE:
Medium bodied, the effervescence and spiciness really tickle the tip of the tongue, the sides of the mouth and the soft palate. The finish is very dry, and herbal. The aftertaste lingers quite a while, but is pleasant.
FOOD PAIRING SUGGESTIONS
Cheees- Any washed rind, blue-veined, or triple cream. As the brewery suggests, a young Comté. Light chicken salads, Phyllo wrapped asparagus with prosciutto, Baked brie, Potato-Gruyère Tartlets.
The classic Moules-Frites, (cook the mussels with the Brunehaut Tripel) served with hop shoots (if you can get them) or white asparagus. Carbonade flamande, Waterzooi, Poulet-frites-compote, grey shrimp risotto. Linguine with pesto and creamy white sauce.
We are hugely impressed with this beer and cannot wait to get our hands on the Brunehaut gluten-free beers!
We highly recommend this beer to anyone who has had to shy away from beer altogether due to any type of gluten allergies. Marc-Antoine De Mees has truly filled a niche with this specialty beer.
The flavor of this beer is spectacular- truly sophisticated. It is a true foodie beer, and will satisfy the most heath-conscious consumer. It’s about as guilt-free as a beer gets! Seek this beer out for sure… enthusiasts of Belgian Tripels everywhere will love it.
Huge thanks go out to the following individuals for making this BrewView possible:
STU STUART OF BELGIAN BEER ME! BEER TOURS
We give our thanks to the self-proclaimed “Beer Santa” for having the foresight in sending Belgian Beer Journal this world-class Tripel to BrewView. You are a great listener, and we totally appreciate your kindness and generosity!
MARC-ANTOINE DE MEES OF BRASSERIE DE BRUNEHAUT
Thank you Marc-Antoine, for taking the time out of your business day to speak with us, and to providing Belgian Beer Journal with first hand historical and the most up-to-date product info on your world-class brewery! When we make it to Belgium in the near future, we will certainly pay you a visit. We’d love to try all the beers made by Brasserie de Brunehaut on draught fresh at the brewery!
CHRISTOPHER BARNES OF I THINK ABOUT BEER.COM
Thank you Christopher for writing such a great article on Brasserie de Brunehaut back in 2012, and providing research material and info!
ERIK VERDONCK OF BEER TOURISM.COM
Thank you Erik for also writing great articles on Brasserie de Brunehaut and providing research material and info!
TASTE THE BRUNEHAUT BEERS AT THE BREWERY
If after reading this BrewView, you want to visit Brasserie de Brunehaut in person and taste the beers in their brewery taproom, you’ll want to make plans to join BELGIAN BEER ME! BEER TOURS on their tour aptly titled THE BEST DAMN FARMHOUSE ALE TOUR that runs from October 1 – 8, 2016!
BRUNEHAUT PROMOTONAL VIDEO
BRASSERIE DE BRUNEHAUT
Rue des Panneries, 17
VISITING HOURS (by prior arrangement)
Monday – Thursday: 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Friday: 8:00 AM – 3:00 PM
BrewView author GORDON A. PONCE is the main driving force behind Belgian Beer Journal.com. Since 1983, Gordon recognized that beers from Belgium were special, set apart from the typical craft beer.
He views beers from Belgium (plus Belgian-style and Belgian Inspired beers from other countries) great examples of the brewer’s art. Gordon and his wife live in beautiful Northern California- a great place to enjoy Belgian beer! Ecclesiastes 8:15