Bertrand Guelette, one of five co-founders of Brasserie de la Houppe in Namur, Belgium knows the value of being local, especially in the time of Covid-19.
Their support for Namur goes beyond beer. “This is really the story. Make something for Namur and then we make a beer…we don’t make a beer for Namur. We took it like that…projects and responsibilities to do something here in our beautiful town.”
The brewery was formed in 2013 by Guelette, Francois Collard, Xavier Delvaux, Alexandre Lonfils, and Laurent Maroy based on their love for the town and the desire to create a beer that identified with their community.
They launched Houppe, their first beer in May 2013 as a 75 cl bottle. It was a local hit. In 2015 they set up the brewery in the former Balon-Perrin brewery, on the left bank of the Meuse, about a kilometre from the city centre.
They have a a 10 hl brewing capacity with 5 fermenters. Brasserie Anders continues to brew half of the production of Houppe beer so they can keep up with the demand, but they brew their other beers at their site, including the Jambes en l’Air, a reference to Namur’s folkloric stilt-walking tradition and the annual fighting competition.
Covid-19 has made them re-think for now their plans to expand capacity by adding three more fermentation tanks. Plans to add bottling equipment on site They are bringing more focus on the local market, as some 20% of their product was exported to France, where craft beer brewers are starting to raise the competition.
Some 70% of their beer is sold in Namur with the rest of Belgium drinking up the rest. In 2019 they produced 4000 hl of beer but demand fell to 10% during the summer of Covid.
Guelette says the team wanted to grow some more, doubling production over 5 years, but now they want to stabilise production and focus more on expanding the local market.