Belgium stands as a testament to good beer culture. You can find beer being brewed all over the country, the right way with the respect it deserves. You can find monks brewing it the way they have done it for over 500 years and mad geniuses concocting the next big thing. You can find people who have incredible passion and pride in their beer, which has become a love, a sustenance and an art form. Belgian beer is like music, not every genre is going to please you but you will find that one that just makes you smile, that at times, even blows your mind.
Today I spent about 2 hours touring and sampling beers at De Konnick, Antwerp’s premier and most well known brewery. De Konnick holds an important history here in Antwerp and is really defined by the city itself. Brewing since 1833, being the longest continuously brewing spot in Belgium, De Konnick has stood the test of time as one of the staple breweries in a land of so many good ones.
I have to admit that I am not normally impressed by brewery tours, having been on many, but I can say fully that the De Konnick brewery tour is the best beer themed tour I have ever been on. I would even venture to say that it is hands down one of the best experiential museums you can find. The tour is simply extraordinary, taking you through the history, the manufacturing and the branding of De Konnick over the years, appealing to beer lovers and alcohol abstainers alike.
The museum only opened in 2014, standing upon the same grounds that the original De Konnick brewery did all those years ago. As the company has expanded and taken in more breweries around Belgian, the management decided to do most of the bottling and brewing out side of the city for easier shipping. What was left when they finished was a blank slate, a empty decrepit building needing plenty of love.
After 3 years of construction the museum stands as a modern monument for a generational beer company. Inside you can experience the living history that is De Konnick. As you walk through the vibrant and friendly halls you interact with videos that capture the beer and the city of Antwerp beautifully. Not only did I actually learn a few things about the brewing process, I actually learned many things about the city of Antwerp that I had been ignorant of the entirety of my stay here. As you wind through the exhibition you also get to see De Konnick’s new culinary ventures. De Konnick as of recent years has become a specialty cheese and chocolate supplier, fullying embodying the Belgian gastronomic culture.
At the end of the tour the brewery offers a beer tasting in the De Konnick pub. You get to try their classic De Konnick bolleke, a caramel colored pale ale with a mild bitter flavor, the Tripel d’Anvers, a strong yet light citrus beer and a special beer of the month, this time being a 6.5% ale with hints of orange and ginger.
The tour from start to finish was just wonderful and it would be one of the first things I would recommend someone to do in Antwerp. As for the beers, they are all awesome and unique. De Konnick actually owns some of Belgiums other famous breweries around the country including Duvel, la Chouffe and Veddett, which are all world class representations of the Belgian brewing style. The tour has certainly given me a new outlook on Belgian beeer, which has become one of my favorite styles.