There are a lot of very interesting projects going on in the Belgian beer world right now, and I’ve had the privilege of visiting many of them in the last couple of years.
One that really stood out during my December 2012 and April 2013 trips will be a major destination spot for beer lovers from around the world. The principals involved are big names in the Belgian beer world, and internationally.
Professor Emeritus Freddy Delvaux of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, and sons Dr. Filip Delvaux and Peter Delvaux, have opened a multi-purpose site called Brouwerij de Kroon and Biercentrum Delvaux.
Dr. Freddy Delvaux earned his PhD In 1972, and is an expert on brewing science, quality control, and recipe creation. He worked at what is now AB-Inbev in Leuven for 17 years, and then went on to create a laboratory of brewing science at the University in Leuven, where he worked until retiring recently. The lab began with a 60-liter test brewery that was later expanded to 500 liters. Courses on brewing science are offered, and the brewing school at KU Leuven has awarded over twenty doctorates.
His son Filip was awarded his Ph.D. for his studies on Belgian witbier, and has worked at the University lab for 15 years himself. The two formed a consulting company where they perform quality control, recipe creation, and lab analysis for 21 breweries, most of which are in Belgium.
During my first visit, on 14 December, Filip told me: “I usually visit each one of the breweries we consult for about once a month, to discuss the results of our analysis from the previous month, and to pick up new samples for testing. So we always have fresh beer here.”
That’s certainly a nice advantage of visiting breweries on a regular basis! The breweries are some of the best known in the Belgian beer world: Achouffe, Affligem, Bockor, Bosteels, Duvel-Moortgat, Het Anker, Palm, Rodenbach, St. Bernardus, Van Steenberge, Westmalle, and more.
Freddy then mentioned: “About 3 or 4 years ago, we started thinking about doing something different, as normally I would have to retire at age 65 in Belgium. So, we looked for a suitable site for our plans, and found this place.”
The locale is Brouwerij De Kroon (The Crown) in Neerijse, a little town about 10 km south of Leuven. De Kroon was opened in 1897 by the De Coster-Depré family, and finally closed in 1983. The German army took away the brewery’s copper brewkettles during the First World War. The circa 1920’s-1930’s brewhouse still exists, with a mash tun, direct-fired boiling kettle, and a coolship. The boiling kettle is 35 hl in size.