Some things just amaze. The new brewery at Pairi Daiza, one of Belgium’s top tourist attractions, is one of them.
Pairi Daiza is a zoo with over 5,000 animals and several large gardens. It is the number one tourist site in Wallonia, the French-speaking part of Belgium. Over one million visitors pass it gates every year, and the site covers over 55 hectares (136 acres) of land. It is located in the countryside in Belgium, near Brugelette in Hainaut province. Breweries such as Vapeur, Dubuisson, and Dupont are not far away.
Pairi Daiza is ancient Persian for “enclosed garden.” It is also the earliest known word for paradise. Pairi Daiza was begun in 1993 under the name “Paradisio” as a garden for birds, and it still has one of the most diverse collections of birds in Europe. There are also lions, tigers, elephants, monkeys, and much more!
There are half a dozen gardens on site with particular themes, and one is the “Kingdom of Ganesha” which is the largest Indonesian garden in Europe. The Chinese garden is also the largest of its kind on that continent. Additionally, the “Rose Garden” has over 700 varieties of roses from around the planet. This place has a lot to offer, to say the least.
Being Belgium, Pairi Daiza also needs beer. Lots of it. Because the Belgians do love beer. As they should. (They do live in Belgium, after all….)
A Belgian microbrewery, located in a zoo and world gardens? You better believe it. “The park is located on the site of the Abbaye de Cambron, an old Cistercian abbey dating to the 12th century,” Antontin Maes, Technical Director of Brasserie de Cambron, told me during my visit in late April. Antonin works just one day a week at Pairi Daiza. His main job is that of Brewery Manager at Brasserie Dubuisson in Pipaix, makers of the beers labeled Bush in most of Europe, and Scaldis in the U.S.A.
“A few years ago, the owners of Pairi Daiza decided they wanted to build a microbrewery/brewpub on site. So they did, and it took about two years to finish. We started brewing here in December 2012,” Maes added.
The brewery building-which encompasses a café, restaurant and the brewery-occupies nearly the length of a football field. “This brewery is sitting directly on the foundation of the old Cistercian brewery that was here ages ago,” Maes commented. “The building is completely new, as is nearly everything in it,” he added.