Series by Christopher Barnes.
While the Belgium is renowned for its brewing heritage and its equally storied breweries, many people assume that the country’s brewing culture is stuck in time. However, what many beer fans don’t know is that there is a whole new generation of innovators and new breweries joining the modern craft beer movement. Brouwerij Het Nest is one of those joining the prestigious ranks of Belgian Beer and the exciting new world of “craft beer”.
Brewery Het Nest
Het Nest started out simply enough: as a group of friends meeting to taste beers and discuss them. As is often the case, hobbies like this grow and sometimes, grow out of hand. By 2007, they’d started taking brewing classes. Then, they started winning major home brewing contests. Their first medal was at the Open Dutch Championship where they took Bronze in the Triple category.
That inspired the tasting group to become a commercial brewing entity. The only problem, their home brewing system wasn’t nearly big enough to even begin supplying a commercial network nor did they have funding to begin building a brewery outright. At 40 liters, they’d never be able to make enough beer to sell on their own system. They still do use it for recipe development though. So, they brewed their first 500 liter batch at Brewery Boelens.
Today, their beers are brewed primarily at Brouwerij Anders, except their wood-aged beers, which are brewed at Brouwerij Pirlot. This is only a temporary solution however. This summer, ground will be broken on their new site which will be in operation by the summer of 2015.
Located in Turnhout, the beers take their names from playing cards. Turnhout is one of the major playing card production centers in the world. Not only are standard decks of cards made, they make cards for board games like Monopoly. Since the card industry plays a major role economically and historically, there has been a card industry here since the early 19th Century, the brewery decided to pay homage to their home and use the theme as a unique identity. The beers listed below are available year round. They also brew several seasonally available offerings.
Jack of Spades – An abbey-style triple, this is the recipe that won them that first bronze medal against over 90 other competitors.
Queen of Diamonds – A slightly bitter blonde ale, this beer features American grown Cascade hops.
King of Hearts – This hoppy blonde ale is all about the European hops.
Ace of Spades – This is probably my favorite of their outstanding line up. It’s their homage to Orval. Malty, bitter, and funky; this beer’s complexity does justice to the classic Trappist ale.
Patriot of Turnhout (Turnhoutse Saison) – This beer draws its inspiration from the Walloon farm house ales to create a unique Flemish Saison. This beer was brewed to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the founding of Turnhout.
Where To Go
Nationaal Museum van de Speelkart is the national museum dedicated to Turnhout’s prime industry, the playing card!
Cafe De Penge has been around since 1890 and claims to be the oldest working pub in Turnhout. De Penge features an atmospheric environment and its own house beer as well as a well-curated list by beer lover and owner, Marc Moonen. They are an Orval Ambassador bar. So, you can try the Ace of Spaces next to the original to how you like it in comparison.
De Weerelt is open for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and features much more substantial meal options to go with several Het Nest bottle options.
Don’t drink and drive!
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Christopher Barnes is an American beer writer, blogger, and brewing industry professional with a passion for travel, Belgium and its beers. You can find his writings at I think about beer or follow him on Facebook or Twitter.
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