Guest series by Christopher Barnes.
Hof ten Dormaal is one of the new generation of breweries producing outstanding craft beer in Belgium. However, the Janssen family of Hof ten Dormaal have taken things a bit further in their pursuit of craft. Before they had a brewery and became brewers, they were farmers. In fact, 3 generations of the Janssen family live on the farm currently.
Andre Janssen, an accountant, suffered a stroke at 50 and found he could no longer function adequately at this chosen. He decided to take some time and took a trip to America to wander around. Somewhere in Montana, he stumbled upon a defunct brewer and decided what to do in the second part of his career. He bought the equipment and sent it home. Andre set up the brewery on the family farm and learned to brew.
Brouwerij Hof ten Dormaal was born.
Since they had a farm and a brewery, the Janssen family took the next step and started brewing their own ingredients. In the true spirit of Do It Yourself and the ancient farmhouse brewery tradition of Belgium, Hof ten Dormaal makes their beer from earth to bottle. 99% of the ingredients in their beers come from their own lands: the grains, hops, water, and other adjuncts. The only thing they don’t provide is the yeast. And while they do process their own hops, they send their grains off to Belgium’s famous Dingeman’s malting house.
Hof ten Dormaal has quickly developed a large and interesting portfolio ranging to a few house interpretations of traditional styles, some fun new beers, and barrel-aged beers.
The Blond Ale is a characterful blonde farmhouse ale with a great yeast character and 8% ABV.
Donker is a dark ale with a rich, chocolaty, caramel malt profile and a yeasty backbone, 8.5% ABV.
The Amber Ale is a slightly lower alcohol malt focused beer with only 7.5% ABV.
Wit Goud is one of Hof ten Dormaal’s unique beers. Brewed with another of Belgium’s famous crops: Endive, also known as chicory. They replace a portion of the hops with the chicory roots.
Zure Van Tildonk is a new addition to the Hof ten Dormaal family. Using traditional methods, they’ve gathered wild yeast from around their farm and produced a sour beer. While it has many similar characteristics to the spontaneously fermented Lambic beers.
Winter is their special seasonal release. They change the recipe every year.
Oak Aged – This is an ongoing series of beers that are aged in various liquor barrels. So far they’ve used Genever, Cognac, Sherry, Port, and more.
Where To Go
Hof ten Dormaal is located in the small village of Tildonk which sits in between the larger cities of Leuven, Brussels, and the smaller town of Haacht. You may be able to stumble upon some Hof ten Dormaal here and there.
Hof ten Dormaal – The brewery offers open hours for sales as well as open time on Saturday to taste. Tours are available with by making an appointment over the phone.
The Capital – The Capital in Leuven is the hot new beer bar in Belgium claiming the largest bottle selection. They also have a reasonably sized food menu with a solid mix of Belgian dishes and some multicultural 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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