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Beer Castle

We’ve found something again. And we were so pleased with it that we want to share it here with our readers: a rediscovered article about the Bierkasteel Van Honsebrouck brewery, which appeared in the 2/17 issue of the magazine. Here, however, unfortunately, we only have space for a summary of the article; you can read the full-length version in the.

It’s more than a century since a brewery of this size has been built in Belgium. Xavier Van Honsebrouck, a family brewer of the fifth generation, has now ventured this bold step. In the small Flemish town of Izegem, the new Bierkasteel Van Honsebrouck brewery has been erected on a greenfield site, with a capacity of 250,000 hectolitres. And it’s mightily impressive: the architecture is reminiscent of a castle, the cold block – with different fermentation processes and batch sizes – unites four breweries in one, so to speak, and the facilities for visitors offer a total-immersion beer experience. For Xavier Van Honsebrouck, the brewery is a dream come true.

Structured master plan

It was at the drinktec back in 2013 that Xavier Van Honsebrouck got in touch with Krones: “We already had a good relationship beforehand. And then we agreed a special kind of partnership: Krones was able to better comprehend the world of specialty and craft brewers, and we got a highly flexible technical solution from a single source,” he explains. Krones received the turnkey order – and supplied the brewhouse, handled the coordination and automation of the cold block, installed six additional fermentation tanks, was responsible for relocating the returnable-glass bottling line and added some new machines to it.

The job profile for construction of the new brewery was an extremely multifaceted one:

  1. Rigorous separation of the different fermentation processes
  2. Fully automated process technology
  3. More flexible brewing modes in the brewhouse, thanks not least to the option for brewing smaller batches
  4. The integration of 68 existing fermentation and storage tanks and large portions of the bottling line, plus the complete kegging line from the old brewery
  5. To design the brewery as a visitors’ attraction for beer tourists
  6. Smooth transition from the old to the new brewing facility


To optimise the internal organisation of the construction work, and to support the long-serving Production Manager and Brewmaster Hans Mehuys, Alex De Smet joined the team Van Honsebrouck. Together, they drew up a meticulously structured master plan.

Five separate cellars

Using three fermentation processes in a single brewery while avoiding the risk of microbiological cross-infections demands ultra-meticulous care and attention. With the new brewery, however, this is significantly easier: the three fermentation processes are operated in total separation with their own piping, and CIP-cleaned separately as well.

Besides the two fermentation cellars for the top-fermenting and spontaneous fermentation processes, another cellar is devoted to producing fruit-based beer. For this purpose, six maceration tanks are provided, in which sour beer is mixed with cherries. This mixture remains in the tanks for around six months. Van Honsebrouck processes a total of 140 tons of cherries a year. Other fruit-based beers are produced in a fourth cellar, by adding peach juice, for example.

A fifth cellar houses the filtration system. This, too, is fully automated, fitted with Evoguard double-seat valves, and connected to 20 bright-beer tanks. From these, the beer is passed to the bottling or kegging line, or the truck tanks. The brewery no longer uses a diatomite filter, of the kind installed in the old plant. Instead, Krones now installed a sheet filter and a polishing centrifuge. Nor did Van Honsebrouck want to stick with hose technology, but opted for panels with pipe bends instead.

A clearly structured bottling operation

The bottling line, rated at 20,000 bottles per hour, is now accommodated in the new building on an area of 2,000 square metres – three times the space provided in the old brewery. Krones organised the entire relocation job: existing machines, like the Sensometic VP-VI counter-pressure filler, installed only in 2008, the Solomatic labeller and the Linatronic empty-bottle inspector, were installed at the new site and linked up with new conveyors. In addition, Van Honsebrouck ordered a Lavatec E2 bottle washer, a Modulpal 2A palletiser, and a corking machine. All the requisite adhesives are supplied by KIC Krones.


And so that you get all the magazine articles delivered hot off the printing press to your home in the future, it’s also worthwhile subscribing to the magazine here: http://www.krones.com/de/presse/krones-magazin-aboservice.php

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