The West-Flemish town of Izegem is home to the imposing brewery complex of Kasteel Brouwerij Vanhonsebrouck, replete with towers like a real castle. What started out in 1865 as a small-scale brewery has waxed into a world tier player in Belgian beer. The special beer brewer is widely famed for its Kasteelbier and Filou brands, but also brews the ‘Slurfke’ (small elephant trunk) beer, known to fans of ‘Thuis’ (At Home), the most popular TV-soap in Flanders. During the current crisis, Kasteel Brouwerij Vanhonsebrouck is continuing to invest, including in a special beer sold in cans to conquer foreign markets.
Americans and special beer: love at first ... can?
The castle brewery sets store by cans and in late 2019 launched a canned beer production line. As a beverage packaging material, cans are lighter and therefore cheaper to transport. Cans do not let in any light, cool six times faster than glass bottles and are perfectly recyclable.
Every hour, the brewery produces some 17,000 cans of Kasteel, Filou, Bacchus or Barista Chocolate Quad. The Barista Chocolate Quad has only been around for 5 years and combines the ‘holy trinity’ of Belgian foods which Americans are mad for: beer, chocolate and coffee.
Keeping up investments, including in times of crisis
The price tag for the brewery’s first canning production line was 4 million euros. No less than half of the production output is intended for exports. Alongside all European countries, the cans of special beer also ship to China, South America and especially Russia and Israel. With the recent incorporation of their brand new US subsidiary, their canned beer is now fully set to conquer the hearts (and palates) of Americans.
Same as any other business, the corona crisis also had an impact on the castle brewery’s activities. Before the crisis for instance, the F&B sector accounted for half of the brewery’s turnover. Thankfully the effects of the pandemic came in waves. Van Honsebrouck was able to keep brewing more than half of its normal volumes and never stopped exporting its products to various countries. And even at the height of the crisis, the castle brewery continued to recruit talented people with the right skills whilst continuing to invest in the business for a sum of 1.2 million euros.