Here we are again with another episode in our ‘Craft Beer Tour of Belgium’. This time we are presenting Brewery Wilderen, a brewery in the Province of Limburg with a history that dates back to 1642. It was in that year that the farmhouse where the brewery is located was built. The brewing itself started in 1743, but it was stopped two centuries later in 1939. After several bad harvests in a row, there was such a scarcity of grain that the farmer-brewer saw no other option than to stop his brewing activities and focus entirely on the farming.
Almost 70 years later, in 2008, a couple, named Mike and Roniek bought the old farmhouse brewery with the plan to pick the brewing tradition back up. In August 2011, after three years of restoring and waiting for permits and licenses, they launched their first two beers (Wilderen Goud and Tripel Kanunnik) , as well as a gin and a jenever (a grain gin, sometimes called ‘Dutch Gin’, a drink typical of the Limburg region). The old buildings are beautifully restored: one of the old stables has become a spacious and very cosy bar; the brewery-distillery has kept its traditional look on the outside but inside everything is state-of the art, and in between the two lays a spacious sunny terrace with a playground for the children.
“Back in the days, the farmhouse brewery was an impressive building for a small village like Wilderen. Besides the brewery it also housed a farm, a bakery and a distillery.” explains our guide Jean-Pierre. “At the time it was common practice that large farms brewed their own beer. Its new owners have renovated the buildings thoroughly, what were once the stables now house a very modern brewery. The Italian-made brewery is entirely of stainless steel and it used to brew three of their four beers (their Kriek is brewed at another brewery, because it needs a special spontaneous fermentation, which is not possible here in the Limburg province).“
Brewery Wilderen brews four different beers:
* Wilderen Goud: a light and refreshing blonde beer with an ABV of 6.2% for which they also designed a unique glass.
* Tripel Kanunnik: a golden blond triple ale with a full and malty flavor and an ABV of 8.2%. This beer is named after the ‘Kanunnik’ (a monk) who came up with the brewery’s first recipes in the 18th Century.
* Wilderen Kriek: the latest addition to their beer range; a sweet and refreshing kriek beer based on lambic and with an ABV of 3.5%. This beer is brewed at Brewery Bockor, but according to Wilderen’s own recipe.
* Cuvee Clarisse: a dark and malty beer with hints of liquorice. This is their newest beer, launched in December 2013. It is only available on tap for the time being.
But Brewery Wilderen, is not just a brewery, it is also a distillery. Brewmaster Mike Janssens distills jenever (grain gin), Eau-de-Biere (a distillate made from the malt mash of the Tripel Kanunnik), gin (which they recommend you to drink with liquorice), and in August they will launch their very own single malt whisky.
On top of all their beers and distillates, they also produce Belgian chocolates with home-made liquor inside and a hop cheese. All of these wonderful drinks and snacks can be tasted in their beautiful bar or on the terrace if the weather is nice. Definitely worth a visit!