Belgium, A Brewer's Dream
When discussing the best place for beer in the world, Belgium is definitely a place that comes up again and again.
Whether it be Brasserie Cantillon who has specialized in Lambics since 1900, Westvleteren who has produced and specialized Trappist beers since 1838, or Duvel who has put a name to the Belgian Strong Pale Ale and has brewed it with perfection since the 1920s. Because Belgian breweries have been brewing for centuries, they have their processes down to such precision. There is a reason why people, like me, have made this a beer destination for decades.
On my most recent trip to Belgium, one thing I noticed is that a lot of the breweries in Belgium use old equipment. In Cantillon, most of their equipment is original to when they first opened and they are very hesitant to change that. Their system works great for the type of beers that they produce and they can still produce 400,000 bottles a year. That’s amazing. There is something to be said about that traditional saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Some breweries though, like Castle Brewery Van Honsebrouck have ditched their old system and old practices for a brand-new stainless-steel behemoth state of the art system to brew three times a day, five days a week. They believe that while their old practices produced great beer, they needed a system that could constantly produce the quality product that their customers are accustomed to, while producing the volume that they need to meet demand. While their recipes are mostly the same, their process have changed, and you can really taste the quality in their final product. It seemed to me that their goal was simple; perfection.
I believe that this is something that should be expected from every single brewery, regardless of its location. Striving for perfection and giving customers the quality beer they deserve needs to be one of the main focuses of a brewery. Over the past few months here at Angry Horse, we have been in the process of upgrading our brewing system. Once that is complete, there will be an increase in the amount of beer we produce and we will have the ability to serve more locations throughout Southern California. But most importantly, as our brew capacity expands, we are focusing on improving our process and like the Belgians, striving to make the best beer available on the market.
My biggest take away from my trip to Belgium was the quality of the beer. Belgian or otherwise. There were even breweries that were producing phenomenal American styles, like our New England and Juicy IPA’s. Visiting Belgium was a brewer’s dream and if given the opportunity, I insist that you go. Otherwise, you can look to our own Belgian brews such as The Beast, our Golden Strong Ale and Rye Me a River, our Saison, in which we strive to capture the traditional taste of Belgium.
Nate Sewell | VP & Brewer