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Brouwerij Bosteels Brewery Tour

Brouwerij Bosteels Brewery Tour

When one thinks of modern craft beer, variety is one of the most notable aspects of the tremendously populated beer shelves in supermarkets, bottle shops and liquor stores. There are marshmallow milk stouts, cucumber and basil sour beers, and fruit beers with dragon fruit and paw paws.

Every ingredient under the sun has been piled into all sorts of beer styles, though some of these creations are becoming slightly gimmicky, eschewing the heritage of the finest brewing examples of history.

One brewery that has not abandoned tradition or forgotten its place in the great history of brewing is Brouwerij Bosteels (Bosteels Brewery in English) in Buggenhout, Belgium.

Founded over 200 years ago in 1791, Bosteels was family owned and operated by seven generations of brewers in the Bosteels family – starting with founder and forefather Evarist Bosteels – until its sale to AB InBev in 2016.

The brewery is still a shining example of the historic brewing scene in Belgium, as well as Belgian brewers’ singular focus on producing a few specific styles to the most exacting methods possible – achieving perfection in every batch, with only a few offerings.

Brouwerij Bosteels is a shining example of the historic brewing scene in Belgium, as well as Belgian brewers’ singular focus on producing a few specific styles to the most exacting methods possible.

In terms of the actual brewery, the historic Bosteels facility stands in the small village of Buggenhout. Adjoining the spacious inner courtyard, “the handsome and dignified buildings rise up from the ground around the brewery, such as the former family residence and the old whitewashed tower brewery,” according to the brewery’s website. The brewhouse is also built to the designs of the architect Minnaert, famous for the Minnaert Theatre in Ghent, Belgium.

Though there is only one location for the brewery at Kerkstraat 96, 9255 in Buggenhout, Belgium, Bosteels distributes to multiple countries via various distribution partnerships, including to the United States by the highly selective importer Artisanal Imports.

Of course a brewery’s main claim to fame is the delicious liquid that it produces, and Brouwerij Bosteels has a striking portfolio of beers that can all be called world-class. Where much modern craft beer is founded on the idea of “more is more,” Bosteels instead prefers to only offer three excellent beers: DeuS Brut Des Flandres, Pauwel Kwak and Tripel Karmeliet.

These three disparate styles represent the entirety of Bosteels’ barrel production, and with good reason: each beer has its own fascinating backstory as well as striking flavor profiles that keep discerning drinkers coming back for more.

Pauwel Kwak – 8.4% ABV – Belgian Golden Strong Ale

Pauwel Kwak debuted in the 1980s and was named after an 18th-century innkeeper and brewer. The beer showcases a rich amber color with a slightly sweet, generously malty character throughout the aroma and flavor. Subdued but pleasant hops present an excellent balance with the ripe juiciness from the grain and a fruity, meringue-like softness within each sip.

Perhaps the most recognizable element of Pauwel Kwak has nothing to do with the actual beer, but rather its glassware. Kwak is immediately recognizable for its wooden holster as well as the curvaceous and attractive bulb-like glass – called a koetsiersglas – in which it is poured.

Brouwerij Bosteels provides Pauwel Kwak in the following containers: 11.2-oz bottle, 750-mL bottle and 1/6-bbl Microstar keg. On draft, a drinker will be greeted to an iconic pour of the beer in its singular koetsiersglas.

Tripel Karmeliet – 8.4% ABV – Belgian Tripel

Another of Brouwerij Bosteels’ most famous brews is Tripel Karmeliet, featuring a far more historic recipe than Kwak.

A bottle-conditioned Belgian Tripel, Tripel Karmeliet is based on a recipe that dates back to a Carmelite convent in Dendermonde, Belgium for a beer that was first brewed in 1679.

Commercially produced by Bosteels for the first time in 1996, Tripel Karmeliet has been rapidly gaining accolades as one of the newest classics of the Belgian brewing scene.

After being awarded the prestigious World’s Best Ale Award at the 2008 World Beer Awards, Bosteels was hard-pressed to keep up with demand for Tripel Karmeliet. As a result, Bosteels had to increase its brewing capacity in order to satiate the public’s need for Karmeliet – and it’s easy to see why.

Tripel Karmeliet is brewed with oats, barley and wheat, and has a soft yet rich grain character with hints of banana and vanilla as well as a pleasing bubblegum aroma. A striking balance is achieved through restrained hop bitterness and substantial maltiness.

Tripel Karmeliet is available in the following containers: 11.2-oz bottle, 750-mL bottle, 1/6-bbl Microstar keg and 1/2-bbl Microstar keg.

DeuS Brut Des Flandres – 11.5% ABV – Belgian Golden Strong Ale

The final offering from Brouwerij Bosteels is DeuS Brut Des Flandres, a fascinating and complex champagne-like beer.

DeuS Brut Des Flandres undergoes two separate fermentation processes, including a lengthy, costly maturation in the Champagne caves of France. The elegant and labor-intensive “methode Champenoise” produces the best sparkling beverages in the world – of which DeuS is a member.

Nine months of refermentation near Épernay in Champagne, France, provide DeuS with a divine combination of champagne-like subtlety and a Belgian Strong Ale’s hefty malt backbone, making the large-format 750-mL bottles of DeuS even more of a singular treat for special occasions.

DeuS has characteristics of both sparkling wine (fine, velvety carbonation) and specialty Belgian beers (rich maltiness) but also exhibits a fragrant and herbal spiciness that is quite unique. Flavors of mint, malt, lavender and a barely perceptible hop character make DeuS a sophisticated, complex treat.

Brouwerij Bosteels is about as authentic as you can get when it comes to Belgian brewing. The history and brewing tradition of the 200-year-old operation has practically seeped into the walls of the stunning building, and it’s well worth a visit or a specially planned trip.

Tours are available at the brewery, though they must be planned in advance and a small fee is charged. Never fear, samples of Karmeliet and Pauwel Kwak are provided (the latter of which in its inimitable koetsiersglas holster).

Bosteels is located in the Flemish city of Buggenhout ‒ which features the stunning natural beauty of the Buggenhout forest, the largest green space in East Flanders ‒ and there is much activity in the town on the banks of the River Scheldt.

Located a short train or car ride from the more central city of Dendermonde, Buggenhout is also extremely walkable (much like the entire country) as a series of interconnected walking trails (hundreds of kilometers of spotless footpaths) make traversing the countryside a joy for backpackers and ambulators of all stripes.

The brewery’s address and phone number are listed below, and they are always looking to accommodate Belgian beer fans if given a little advance notice.

Brouwerij Bosteels
Kerkstraat 96, 9255 Buggenhout, Belgium

+32 (0)52 33 23 23