Hof ten Dormaal, one of Belgium's great young breweries, insists that brewing can be at once self-sufficient, sustainable, and internationally distributed. They started as a farm, in Hecht, then launched the brewery in 2009 as way to pay for their farming habit. Role reversal? Whatever we call it, it's incredible beer and an inspiring model. They grow their own grains and hops and re-use the spent materials to feed their livestock. It's nearly 100% efficient. And the beer, drawing on tradition, reaches new depths of style and complexity.
It's a family business. The Janssens, Andre and Mol and their sons, are steeped in the rich brewing history of the region, but they're not hemmed in by its strictures. They're experimenting, following their noses. And because they grow everything themselves, they're in a unique position to find new possibilities in their materials, their process, their very way of being and making.
We've brought in a few of their more excellent brews. From their barrel-aged project, check out the blonde ale aged in Madeira barrels, or the dark ale aged in barrels used to make Bruichladdich's heavily peated Port Charlotte Single Malt Scotch. The latter has all the smokey-savory tang you might imagine, but it's fully integrated into the rich core and so expresses a surprising amount of subtlety. Their Zure is a traditional sour with a fresh sensibility, tart but expansive, using wild yeasts for fermentation, aged one year. And their Saison is classic, crisp, spicy, and full of farmhouse funk.
Hof ten Dormaal
Blonde Ale aged in Madeira barrels - $20 (750ml)
Dark Ale aged in Port Charlotte barrels - $20 (750ml)
Arcana Dark Sour Farmhouse -$9 Stillwater Collab
Zure Traditional Sour Ale - $8
Saison Farmhouse Ale - $13