Belgium’s Brut beers: Champagne-style

Published on December 13, 2013.

3. Belgian producers and beers

Who brews such beers, what beers, and what is the story behind them ?

Brouwerij de Landtsheer, Buggenhout, East Flanders.

Brouwerij de Landtsheer, Buggenhout, East Flanders.

a. Malheur

Emmanuel (Manu) De Landtsheer states the inspiration for his “champagne” beers comes from his love of wine and beer. He wanted to make a cross-over, combining elements of both worlds, and that is why he came up with his Bière Brut.

Manu de Landtsheer, owner, Brouwerij de Landtsheer.

Manu de Landtsheer, owner, Brouwerij de Landtsheer.

The current range:
• Malheur Bière Brut is the original one, launched in 2002. It is gold colored and contains 11% ABV. The base beer is the Malheur 10.
• Malheur Dark Brut was launched in 2003 and as its name suggests is a dark version. It is based on Malheur 12 and is aged in American oak barrels. It stands at 12% ABV.
• Malheur Cuvée Royale was launched in 2005 to commemorate 175 years of Belgium. The blond beer is based on Malheur 8 and stands at 9% ABV.
• Malheur Extra Brut was launched in 2012 and is a limited, dry hopped edition of the Bière Brut.

Manu de Landtsheer pouring a Malheur Brut inside the tasting room in the brewery.

Manu de Landtsheer pouring a Malheur Brut inside the tasting room in the brewery.

Manu de Landtsheer with a sample of Malheur Dark Brut, taken from one of the barrels he is sitting on.

Manu de Landtsheer with a sample of Malheur Dark Brut, taken from one of the barrels he is sitting on.

Malheur Dark Brut.

Malheur Dark Brut.

Manu never used the term “champagne” on the label or in any communication, but used the terms “brut” and “réserve”. However, the national and international press virtually always described the beer as “champagne beer” to the displeasure of the champagne lobby. Veuve Cliquot and CIVC (Le Comité Interprofessionnel du vin de Champagne, an organisation under the direction of the French government, charged among others with organizing and controlling the promotion of the wines of Champagne) sued Malheur for the use of all terms that could be linked to champagne. It took 5 years to come to a conclusion that is satisfactory to all. The brewery is now allowed to use the term “brut”, but any direct or indirect reference to champagne is prohibited. That is why Manu now describes the beers as being “à la méthode originale”.

Antoine Bosteels pouring a DeuS Brut beer inside the tasting room at Brouwerij Bosteels.

Antoine Bosteels pouring a DeuS Brut beer inside the tasting room at Brouwerij Bosteels.

b. Bosteels

I was told by Antoine Bosteels that the inspiration came during brunching together with a family member of Antoine‘s spouse, a champagne importer. It was noticed that champagne was available, not beer. This launched the idea of doing something champagne like with beer.

Their beer is called “DeuS, Brut des Flandres”, standing at 11.5 % ABV.

Ivo Bosteels, left, and Antoine Bosteels in the brewhouse at Brouwerij Bosteels.

Ivo Bosteels, left, and Antoine Bosteels in the brewhouse at Brouwerij Bosteels.

Antoine Bosteels has a lovely poetic phrase to describe it: “divine grain bubbles”. It constitutes no more than 1 % of the brewery’s volume and is thus a showcase. Upon my recent visit, I was given the privilege to sip various bottles, also some that were condemned. There may be various reasons for condemnation, the most important being the fact that the sparkle was not good enough. I must say such beers had a perfect taste, still the brewery destroys the beer, ensuring the consumer only gets the best.

Ivo Bosteels pouring a DeuS Brut beer.

Ivo Bosteels pouring a DeuS Brut beer.


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