Monday, February 25, 2013

Brasserie de la Senne - A Brewery in Brussels

Last week the student volunteers at Université Saint Louis organized a trip to a local brewery for us exchange students. We met at the local metro station, rode the subway a few stops, walked for 10 minutes, and arrived at an old warehouse that was recently transformed into la Brasserie de la Senne.

Our tour was given by one of the co-owners of the brewery. He explained that, like most small brewing companies, he and his partner started out by home brewing in their basements. Later, as their beers became more and more popular they decided they needed to expand. That was when they bought an old warehouse in the city and worked for a few years turning it into a working brewery.

Our guide explained to us that they based their entire business on one simple rule: make beer that they want to drink. Instead of following current trends or trying to appear fancy, they want to cater to their own tastes. If other people happen to like it too, more's the better.
They also wanted to truly be a beer from Brussels, by Brussels, and for Brussels. They felt strongly that having a brewery in the actual city was important (there's only one other brewery in Brussels), and despite heavy foreign demand they primarily sell to Belgian stores.

Our tour was short, but in about 45 minutes we were really able to understand where beer comes from and how it is made. He took us to each stage of production and explained how the processes occur that transform water, hops, and barley into a beer. He gave us hops to taste and showed us how hops of different colors produce different beers. It was really remarkable how much he knew and how he was able to explain the relatively complex scientific process in an understandable way off the top of his head, in his second language.
Hops. They tasted a little like bitter sunflower seeds, but I don't
think I'm gonna start eating them during baseball games.

Of course, like any brewery tour, we finished by drinking some beers. We enjoyed tasting three different kinds of beer, and one of the Italians may have purchased a dozen to go. Overall the brewery trip was a great success; now we need to visit the second Brussels brewery to compare!

 P.S. Can you tell how cold it was that day? Brrrrrr!

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