Hainaut Province has a long heritage of brewing, and is one of the heartlands of Belgian beer. With breweries such as Blaugies, Dupont, and Dubuisson in the area, it’s no surprise that young Wallonian beer lovers, aware of the significance of their region to the beer world, continue to open new brasseries in the area, at a quick pace.
Julien Slabbinck and François Amorison are two such local beer aficionados, who were friends in high school. Upon graduation in June of 2000, they decided to take a motorcycle trip to visit the major Wallonian breweries. The aim was to learn more about special Belgian beers, and some of the history behind them.
The trip obviously had an effect on both men, as François became a homebrewer, and Julien, a technically trained brewer. “Meeting the brewers and hearing their passion for beer really made an impression on us,” François remarked during my visit on April 22. Ten years after their trip, they decided to open a small brewery in their hometown of Basècles, a village between Peruwelz and Beloeil. Planning the venture and fitting an old sawmill, which François’ grandfather used to own, with a brewery took about two years.
“We first brewed here at Brasserie des Carrières in November 2012,” François told me during my visit on April 22. “The first batch of beer was released for sale on December 21st, and the 2,000 bottles sold out in just five days! We only brew one beer here, called Dîole. It has 6.5% abv, and is an amberish color, due to the caramelization of the beer from our direct-fired boiling kettle.”
All of the equipment at Carrières comes second hand. One of the pieces came from the now defunct Brasserie Ellezelloise in Ellezelles, and another, from Lefebvre in Quenast. Some of the equipment is used milk (dairy) tanks, which is quite common at small breweries in Belgium these days. “When you start a small brewery, normally you don’t have a lot of money,” François remarked. “So it took a couple of years to gather all of the needed equipment. But, we both have a great passion for beer, and this is why we opened this brewery,” he added.
The pair currently brew only on weekends, as both have day jobs. François works for Rail Europe, and Julien is Production Manager at Malterie de Chateau in Beloeil. He worked at breweries in Belgium in France previously, and was trained as a Brewing Engineer at CERIA in Brussels.
Local barley from a farm just 500 meters from the brewery is used, and is malted in Beloeil. Two different malt varieties are utilized. “We try to use only local products. In fact, the wooden crates used to transport our beer are made from local poplar wood,” François commented.
Four different hops are utilized in the beer’s creation: Cascade, Hallertau, Perle, and another that I was told is a secret. Some are grown adjacent to the brewery.