If you really want to get the full Craywinckelhof experience, there is a very modern, five room Bed and Breakfast just feet away from the brewery. Single night, weekend, and weekly packages are offered. “You can brew here in the daytime, have a meal in the feestzaal, and then sleep here. It’s a whole package,” Louis commented.
Schrevens already has functioning 25-liter and 100-liter distilleries in the basement of the brewery building: “We make Jenever, Eau-de-Vie, and other types of liquor here. Although I’m a huge fan of Scotch whisky, I don’t need or want to make it here. I don’t want to copy them. To get a good Scotch whisky, you just have to buy it,” he said. I tasted a Craywinckelhof Eau-de-Vie made with 90% bitter Callebaut Belgian dark chocolate, and, despite being completely clear, it tasted very chocolaty. Did I mention I like chocolate?
As I took another sip, Louis commented: “Chocolate is hard to work with, as you need to mix chocolate with alcohol, and it does not dissolve in alcohol. You have to put it in water first, and heat it up. Then you add the spirits and gradually mix the two.”
Louis tells me that he has yet another distillery at his home.
In fact, he has big plans for his passion, he told me: “We already have 50 barrels here at Craywinckelhof, and 150 more are on the way. Most are hogsheads built specially for me in Scotland. I have purchased a total of 530 barrels, in sizes of 20, 30, 60 and 120 liters. These will be delivered over the next year or so. So we will be scaling up production quite a lot.” That’s a lot of spirits!
As far as his larger brewery, it is a 10-hectoliter (8.5 US barrel) system, built by Belgian manufacturer Meura in the 1970’s. “This was the test brewery of Brasserie Piedboeuf of Jupille, in Wallonia, near Liege, before they were taken over by Interbrew, which is now AB-Inbev. That is where the pilsner Jupiler is brewed,” Louis commented, as we looked over the equipment. “In fact, this is the only one like it that Meura ever made. The lauter tun has walls that are 15 cm (6 inches) thick, and so it is very heavy. It is unique.”
He added: “We would have been up and running already, but my engineer had an accident that set us back about six months. Hopefully by sometime in Autumn 2013, we will have this brewery going. Also, we are going to get some help from two brewing scientists who want to do some fermentation research here, with the larger brewery and distillery. Guido Aerts, the Head of the Laboratory for Enzyme, Fermentation and Brewing Technology at KAHO St.-Lieven in Ghent, and his colleague Kris Willems will come here to work with us,” Louis said, smiling.
“We intend to be a very ‘green’ brewery, very environmentally friendly, as this is important to the Belgian people. We will recover and reuse all the energy that we can in the brewing and distillation process,” Louis remarked, as we had a look at some very high-tech equipment that had been recently installed for that reason.
This is another new destination place that will soon “have it all.” Or, at least, lot to offer!
Tel: 016 49 84 70
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