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Discover Benelux  |  A Taste of Flanders  |  Brewery, Distillery & Winemaker Guide

Martha: modern beer with historical roots TEXT: MAYA WITTERS  |  PHOTOS: THE BREW SOCIETY

The Brew Society was founded in 2005 as a contract brewery, creating beers on demand. Today the company brews beers for clients all over the world, as well as its own brand: Martha. “We wanted to make something that we could be proud of.” “We can create beers in all sorts of styles for our clients,” explains sales director Danny Dieussaert. “We start from their preferences to work out a recipe. Depending on the style of beer, a complete brewing cycle will take between four and six weeks. Throughout the years, many creations have come out of our kettles.”

The decision to start brewing its own beer was inspired by huge demand, attests Dieussaert. “Many asked us why we didn’t brew our own beer. We agreed it was time to use our experience to create something special that we can be proud of.” The result is Martha, available in three varieties: Sexy Blond, a highly fermented, eight per cent vol. blond beer; Martha Guilty Pleasure, eight per cent vol. cherry beer with a mild sour hinge; and Martha Brown Eyes, a 12 per cent vol. strong quadruple-style beer. The Brew Society aims to launch Martha internationally and hopes to become a modern

staple next to Belgium’s many traditional beers. “We were inspired by a historical figure from our village Heule: a farmer called Martha, who lived in the twenties and brewed her own beers,” Dieussaert explains. “Whenever a bar starts selling Martha, we see their order numbers rise quickly: people who try it, really love our beer. We look forward to furthering Martha’s legacy all over the world.” Martha will be available at Colruyt supermarkets from April. Learn more at: www.marthabeer.com

Celebrating 25 years of Belgian sparkling wine TEXT: MAYA WITTERS  |  PHOTO: LUK COLLET

In 1994, Paul Vleminckx decided to explore uncharted territory: he set out to create Belgium’s first sparkling wine, produced following traditional Champagne methods. 25 years later, Chardonnay Meerdael is a local staple in restaurants and on supermarket shelves. “Once people taste our wine, they all want to buy it.” “There’s been a real surge in Belgian winemaking. When I started, there were hardly any vineyards,” attests Vleminckx. “Some people Paul Vleminckx.

think it’s because of climate change, but there are simply more grape varieties today that can withstand the cooler climate.” Vleminckx now uses his experience to support new local wine makers through the non-profit organisation Wines of Belgium. “We educate winemakers and use our collective power to regulate the industry and promote our products.” Vleminckx’ decision to turn his passion into a career made him a trailblazer in Belgium – not always an easy path. “People were

incredulous at first: they wouldn’t even sample our wine at market stalls,” he explains. “We really had to educate the public. But slowly our reputation started to grow, and today our sparkling wines have won many awards and are served at top-end local restaurants.” Chardonnay Meerdael also offers vineyard tours for groups, which take around two hours and include insights into the production process as well as a tasting session. “We mostly give guided tours from May to September, when the weather is a little nicer. A lot of our sales come from these tours, because once people try our wine, they all want to buy it,” concludes Vleminckx. Chardonnay Meerdael is available in Delhaize supermarkets. To book a vineyard tour, visit : www.chardonnaymeerdael.be

36  |  Issue 75  |  March 2020