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Bert van Hecke of B.O.M. Brewery

In the tiny city of Bree, in the upper right-hand corner of Belgium, Bert van Hecke is meticulously crafting B.O.M., or Belgian Original Maltbakery packages with a glint in his eye.

Before you dial Interpol, these aren’t your standard incendiary devices. These packages are chock-full of personally-roasted malt, along with meticulously-blended hops and sugars designed as ready-to-brew kits for professional brewers. Only the creator knows exactly what’s inside.

Bert van Hecke is the founder of B.O.M. Brewery, which is not a brewery in the traditional sense, but a gypsy brewing and malt roasting company.



Bert van Hecke is the founder of B.O.M. Brewery, which is not a brewery in the traditional sense, but a gypsy brewing and malt roasting company.


His origins were humble, learning brewing basics from a friend of the family who would distill gin, a practice van Hecke described as “totally illegal.” As his interests turned to beer, he went from homebrewing in the kitchen and “making everything sticky” to brewing for some of the most highly touted brewers in the world, beginning at Orval and Rodenbach before being named cellarmaster of Brouwerij Boon, brewmaster of Saint Bernardus and even spending two years as head brewer of a brewery outside of Shanghai. And somehow, he also found time to work at New Belgium, which gave him an appreciation for aromatic American hops.

“I always say, ‘I have no style,’” says van Hecke. “Sometimes a painter just wants to paint, and that is how I think of beer. I draw from Belgium, the States, China, but I don’t brew by style.” In some ways, he is more a sculptor, starting with “roasting, toasting and tasting” until he has perfected his recipe.

Van Hecke seems to find great joy in transcending the typical. He speaks excitedly of the malting process, which he does himself on a modified coffee roaster. In order to afford the roaster, which was the price of a “small brewery,” he needed a loan.



Van Hecke is more like a sculptor, “roasting, toasting and tasting” until he has perfected his recipe.


“I went to the bank and said ‘I want to buy a roaster to start a malt bakery.’” van Hecke said. “They asked for references. I had no references for a malt bakery, because there were no malt bakeries.”

As one of the few, or perhaps the only, maltster/brewers in the world, van Hecke’s beers benefit from the freshness of their ingredients.

“There’s nothing better than freshly roasted malts,” he said. “If [certain Belgian brewers] were still roasting their own malt, their beers would taste better.”

Van Hecke contracts with two separate breweries, and they have no idea exactly what’s inside his recipes. They are simply presented with B.O.M. packages containing his pre-blended malts, hops and sugars, and simple instructions to follow in order to create his beers.

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