Brouwerij De Troch
Phone: +32 (0)25 82 10 27
Address: Langestraat 20 Wambeek, 1741
De Troch is a lambic brewery based in Wambeek, northeast of Brussels. De Troch produces a line of sweetened lambic under the Chapeau label, as well as an oude gueuze and filtered gueuze.
The history of the De Troch brewery is a complicated mix of family inheritances and land purchases that date back to approximately 1795, when Joannes Franciscus De Troch (1766-1808) and his wife purchased an extensive farm with a number of outbuildings. Sometime around 1818-1820, a brewery and chicory roasting works were added. The brewery passed hands several times through the family of Joannes De Troch’s wife after her death in 1818. In 1857, Petronella Schoonjans married her nephew Egidius De Troch.
Like many lambic brewers, Egidius De Troch became involved in politics and eventually was elected mayor of Wambeek in 1885. While mayor, Egidius continued to develop the brewery and erected the buildings which are still in use today. In 1861, Egidius and Petronella had a son, Ludovicus (Louis I), who would eventually take over the brewery in 1899. Louis I was also elected mayor of Wambeek after his father. The marriage between Louis De Troch and Maria Josepha De Neve produced seven children, only two of whom outlived their parents; their oldest son Ludovicus Albertus (Louis II) and Magdalena Theresia.
In 1923, the first Louis De Troch installed a new brewing system that included cast iron mash tuns which are still in use today. By 1936, his son and successor Louis De Troch II had taken over the brewery, and in 1938 he also became the mayor of Wambeek, where he remained until 1976. By 1954, with the pilsner craze in full swing, Louis II was the only brewer left in Wambeek. In 1964, De Troch also opened up a beer shop to keep the business running.
By 1974, Louis De Troch II was ready to retire and passed the brewery on to his nephew Jos Raes, who had been working at the brewery since 1972. Jos (short for Jozef), the son of Magdalena and Raymond Raes, was raised by his uncle Louis and aunt Maria Louisa in the brewery. Jos downsized the farming aspect of the business after his uncle Louis II passed away in 1982. He continued to grow the brewery by introducing a line of ‘exotic’ beers under a new name, with the De Troch name still reserved for the more traditional lambics. The name Chapeau did not become official until 1991. These sweetened products, made with fruit juices rather than whole fruits, are credited as having kept De Troch afloat in a time when many lambic breweries and blenders were closing their doors. Many of these sweetened fruit lambics were brewed on demand or at the request of groups or individuals.
Today, De Troch is in its 7th generation of family ownership. After an accident in 2002 that left Jos Raes unable to brew for two years, his son Pauwel had to be shown how to brew by local brewing engineer Gert de Rouck. De Rouck, who had been working at the brewery for a short time before being hired at the Sint-Lieven brewery college, returned to the brewery during Christmas to teach Pauwel. Having learned on the job and through some independent studies at Ghent University College, Pauwel, who was married in 2002 and has two sons, is confident about the future. In 2004, Belgian health officials nearly shut down the brewery over safety/sanitations issues, providing an incentive for De Troch to change course. Though he acknowledges that the sweetened beers still bring in the most revenue, De Troch is slowly but surely bringing back its oude gueuze as well as providing lambic on occasion for at least one other blender, Vanberg & DeWulf. De Troch is also a member of HORAL, having signed as one of the six original members in 1997.
Beginning in 2015, De Troch began to rebrand their beers without the Chapeau name. 2015 will also see the release of an Oude Kriek from the brewery in 37,5cl bottles, the first in nearly 30 years.
Though known for mostly sweetened products, De Troch follows traditional lambic brewing processes, with the following notable facts:
- The brewhouse is entirely heated by coal fire, and it takes approximately 400kg of coal for each brewing session
- The two koelschips are oriented east to west, and each have a capacity of 30HL each, which generally contain approximately 40-45HL after cooling and evaporation
- The sweetener used is pure white sugar
- Fruit juice is added at the time of bottling.
- Bottles are flash pasteurized
- The hops used are Aurora hops in pellet form.
De Troch uses barrels that range in age from brand new to over 50 years old. As of 2015 they have approximately three-hundred 650 liter barrels and approximately seventy 225 liter barrels. Newer barrels come from Portugal. There are future plans to install new foeders as well.
- Chapeau Abricot
- Chapeau Banana
- Chapeau Exotic
- Chapeau Fraises
- Chapeau Framboise
- Chapeau Kriek
- Chapeau Lemon
- Chapeau Mirabelle
- Chapeau Pêche
- Jef Van den Steen, Geuze & Kriek: The Secret of Lambic Beer, 2012
- http://www.horal.be/vereniging/de-troch-wambeek Horal - De Troch (Dutch)
- Tim Webb, Chris Pollard, Siobhan McGinn, LambicLand: A Journey Round the Most Unusual Beers in the World, 2010