As a customer, you expect your favourite beer to have a perfect and constant quality. And rightly so! At Haacht Brewery our skilled employees guarantee the best beer. We have optimised our quality control by using new technology.
Only the best ingredients are good enough for us. Everything begins with the water. Our brewing water is pumped up to the brewery site from a depth of 70 metres. This water is so pure that it only needs to be filtered for iron deposits and softened before we use it for brewing.
By the way, did you know that we also pump water from a depth of 150 metres for all of our VAL mineral waters and soft drinks? This water has been recognised as natural mineral water by the Belgian Ministry of Health since 1989. It cannot be any purer!
We also need starch for brewing our beers. That is what barley is used for. After the barley has germinated, it is dried in an oast and may even be roasted. We are then left with malt. Only pure, healthy barley is suitable. That is why we are extremely selective about the malt we buy.
Hops give beers its aroma and bitterness. The taste of the beer will vary a lot, depending on the variety of hops used. We mainly use bitter hop varieties for brewing bottom-fermentation beers such as pilsner and table beer. For top-fermentation beers, such as Charles Quint and Tongerlo, we use fine, aromatic varieties of hops.
Lastly, we need yeast. Yeast converts sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide and partly gives beer its taste. Each type of beer uses its own strain of yeast. We use bottom-fermentation yeast for pilsner beers and top-fermentation yeast for special ales.
Each yeast culture is unique and at Haacht Brewery we cultivate our own yeast. This allows us to guarantee a constant and unique taste.
Brewing, fermentation and lagering
1. The malt is milled and poured into the mashing kettle. After adding the water, the mash is gradually heated until it reaches the temperature of sacharification and the starch in the malt is converted into sugars.
2. Raw cereals such as wheat and maize are first brought to the boiling point in the maize kettle, before being added to the mashing kettle with malt.
3. After sacharification, the mash is pumped into the wort filter. The filtrate (the wort) flows to the buffer tank, waiting for the boiling kettle to be available. The sediment or spent grains are taken to a silo to be used as cattle feed.
4. In the boiling kettle, hops are added, the boiling process takes about an hour.
5. The hot trub is removed in the whirlpool by centripetal force.
6. The brew is cooled using a heat exchanger or wort cooler and is pumped to the fermentation tanks.
Top-fermentation and lagering
After brewing, the beer goes into fermentation and lagering or storage tanks.
Top-fermented ales are fermented for 5 to 6 days at temperatures between 18 and 22 °C.
Bottom-fermented beers have 8 to 10 days to ferment at temperatures between 10 and 12 °C.
When we talk about top and bottom fermentation, this has actually nothing to do with temperatures. It refers to the yeast. In top-fermented ales, the yeast rises to the top of the tank at the end of the fermentation process. The yeast falls to the bottom of the tank in bottom-fermented beers.
Our Tongerlo abbey beers and our Ommegang Charles Quint are refermented in the bottle. Just before bottling, we add sugar and pure yeast cultures to the beer. Only then do we bottle and cap the beer and leave it to rest for several weeks in the ‘warm chambers`. Now the yeast gets to work and develops new aromas. This means that refermented beer has a much richer and more intense taste. After the refermentation, we leave the beer to mature for several more weeks in a storage room.
As soon as we have tested and approved the beer, we can fill the bottles or kegs.
Our bottling plant has a separate filling line for beers and for waters and soft drinks. On each line, up to 60,000 bottles roll across the conveyor belts every hour. This is quite a spectacle.
Every day we fill around 7,000 kegs with beer in our kegging department.
Naturally we do this under the most rigid hygiene and safety standards. We take care of even the smallest details in both the product and its packaging.