With a recipe that was developed in 1445 by a group of monks in a small town in Belgium, Hoegaarden (pronounced "who garden") has gained a reputation worldwide as a unique and enjoyable beer.
The Hoegaarden we know today was created by Pierre Celis in 1966. His goal was to create a traditional wheat beer, a style that had been popular for centuries. Centuries earlier, the village of Hoegaarden (due to its large supply of pure water) had held many breweries, reaching a peak of 38 in 1758. Many of these breweries produced wheat beer. However, due to the economic strain during the early twentieth century, and the emergence of conglomerated brewery companies, wheat beer had not been produced in the area since 1957.
Despite being a milkman, Celis was also an avid beer enthusiast. After a conversation in the local pub regarding the closure of the last wheat beer brewery 8 years earlier, Celis became determined to re-establish this variety of beer.
Interestingly, many small breweries utilize equipment designed for the dairy industry, allowing Celis to use his extensive knowledge of milk processing to assist in his beer operation.
Celis used the highest quality ingredients available in the beer, utilizing Hoegaarden's pure water and local grown wheat in the production. First year output for the brewery, which at the time was called Celis Brewery was 350 hectoliters. The business rapidly grew and in 1985 production had reached 75000 hectoliters.
Wheat beer production is significantly different to mainstream beer production, with the product being top fermented, followed by a fermentation cycle in the bottle which gives wheat beer the cloudy haze it is famous for.
Celis is widely believed to have reinvigorated Belgian beer culture, which before the release of Hoegaarden had been steadily decreasing in popularity. Also, in 1978 the brewery's name was changed to De Kulis.
Disaster struck the business in 1985 when a severe fire destroyed most of the business's equipment. In order to repair the damage, Celis received financial assistance from the Artois Company (which would become part of Interbrew in 1987). The remainder of Celis' stake in the business was sold to Interbew in 1989.
In order to more closely associate the brewery with its brand, Interbrew changed the name of the business to Hoegaarden Brewery.
Despite claims from many long time drinkers that quality decreased after the departure of Celis, sales continued to grow for the brand under Interbrew control with production reaching 855000 hectoliters in the year ending 1997. Due to its new parent company, the distribution of Hoegaarden was expanded into new markets.
Interbrew acquired AmBev in 2004 to form InBev. InBev announced in 2005 that they intended to close the Hoegaarden Brewery by September 2006 and move production to another facility. The reasons presented for this was to increase efficiency and productivity and to reduce costs. The decision attracted a large amount of criticism from the general public, many concerned that the beer would be altered, or worried about the economic effect on the town. While this change did take place, many small time breweries have sprouted up to take the brewery's place.
Regardless of these changes, Hoegaarden continues to be a major brand for InBev and is one of the leading wheat beers on the world wide stage.
- Original White Ale
The beer has a unique taste, a combination of sweet and sour with hints of coriander and orange being present in the taste.
- Grand Cru
- Das Speciale
- Verboden Vrucht