D.A.T.E. 2017: ANTWERP CITY BREWERY DE KONINCK
After a fantastic lunch at Brel, we took the D.A.T.E. participants to the Antwerp City Brewery De Koninck to get a tour inside the brewery of Antwerp’s most famous beer. Naturally, tasting some of this delicious beer was part of the tour. The tour guide for this afternoon was Sven Dekleermaeker, one of the company’s master brewers.
When we arrived, Sven first told us some of the history of the brewery. The brewery lies a bit outside of the city center, but not without reason. In 1833 there was a tax on drinking beer inside the city center and so, it was cheaper for people to drink beer at De Koninck. Over time, De Koninck became renowned and it became the typical Antwerp beer. In 2010, the brewery became part of the Duvel Group and many parts of the brewery transferred over to the Duvel brewery.
Since many parts of the beer brewing wasn’t taking place at De Koninck itself anymore, much space became available inside the brewery’s buildings. To not let the space go to waste, the brewery decided to work together with master craftsmen, like a cheesemaker and a butcher. The brewery was transformed into an experience center. Today, visitors can take a tour through the brewery and learn all about brewing beer and the De Koninck brewery.
After explaining all this, Sven took us to see the craftsmen’s shops. The first stop was at Jitsk, a master chocolatier, that makes his products with only the purest of materials. Entering the shop the entire group got excited from the overwhelmingly delicious smell of chocolate. Sven further explained that all of the shops inside the brewery had an open kitchen so that customers can see the craftsmen working hard on their craft.
The old yeast storage of the brewery made way for Kenney van Hoorick’s bakery. Here he and his team make artisanal bread and the there’s even a patisserie in the bakery. Across the street, there’s an age-old pub and in the former horse stable, horses have made way for a cool bike shop.
When we walked around the corner of the complex, we arrived at the cheese store ‘Van Driecht’, which is known for its quality cheese. The store opened shop around 4 years ago and besides cheese, it has another special feature; the floor is made entirely out of glass! Through the floor, visitors can see racks filled with wheels of cheese.
The last shop Sven showed the group was a butcher, that also has a restaurant on the second floor, called the Butcher’s Son. Like all previous shops, both the butcher and the restaurant were very open. Many of the group said they’d really want to come back and eat at the restaurant.
Finishing the tour in the shops, Sven took us through the brewery via all kinds of service entrances and alleyways and explained everything that was still going on there, but also what used to happen there when the brewery was still only a brewery.
Naturally, everyone got thirsty and hungry after hearing about beer and artisanal food, so our last stop was at the bar. We were served a nice platter of goat cheese, ham, chocolate and bread that was made with beer. Alongside it, everyone got three tasting glasses of different types of beer. The group was surprised by how well the tastes complimented each other and we all left the brewery wanting more.
More information on De Koninck and its collaborations?
Text by Yannick Jongejan
Pics by Niko Caignie for This is Antwerp