Brewer Mathieu Huygens, co-owner of La Source with partner Nina Carleer, pours a fresh beer out of one of the 5 brewing vats behind the bar at their new brewpub. It’s a refreshing concept for Belgium, though not a new one for other countries. For now Huygens can claim he is serving the freshest beer at a bar in Belgium.
One of the beers he says was a bit too fresh a few days before, but has now calmed down for the bar’s official opening on 12 October in the beautiful space of Be-Here, where light floods into the restored industrial building giving the interior an airy feel.
The brewpub represents a big step up for La Source, with a larger brewing capacity, three brewing “eggs” for sour beers he is trying out and the commercial space it shares with Yannick Schandené, owner of Fermenthings, who is on the other side of the room chopping up vegetables. La Source has 5 tanks of 600 litres each from which to draw beer and 15 taps.
Huygens talks about his drive to be as green in his business as possible. All of La Source’s beers are sold in cans, with the beautiful designs on them made by Carleer. Cans are a lighter weight than bottles for transport, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the difference between 20 grams and 300 grams.
“We are a full-circle brewpub,” he says.
That’s an important consideration as Be-Here hosts young businesses with a green outlook, located in the Tour & Taxis area in Laeken. The building used to host the distribution centre for Byrrh, a French beverage company that sold an aperitif of the same name concocted of read wine, mistelle and quinine. The building lay abandoned for several decades until it underwent a €20 million restoration, with city and federal funding.
La Source raised around €300,000 to develop the brewpub via crowdfunding and a local investor to establish itself at Be-Here and expand its capacity.
In addition to La Source and Fermenthings, the building currently hosts an organic market, Skyfarms, MadLab, Lily’s Granola, Vidya Ayurveda, and a couple of musical groups. Fermentings itself also provides space for Tomas Leyers, owner of Goutzi, who is making kombucha in the area above the two businesses.
The site looks promising, though there are lots of skeptics about how many customers will trudge out to this part of town. But I see the start of a kind of clustering effect as the area is being developed as a green business area of Brussels, attracting smaller brewers as well. Nearby is the Greenbizz incubator, where No Science and En Stoemelings, well known in the Brussels craft beer world, have established their brewing operations. Brasserie de la Senne is about 45 minutes walk away.
And this is all part of the growing re-development along Brussels’ canal area, which will also see the Brussels Beer Project open its 35,000 hectolitre capacity brewery farther up the canal in Anderlecht.