The brewery Brasserie Surréaliste opened its doors a year and a half ago in the center of Brussels as a fascinating space with a bar and restaurant where you can taste the craft beers made in its basement. With the same name of Surréaliste, they created the brand in 2019 and currently brew more than 50 different beers at a rate of 100 hectoliters per month. This brewery joins others that in recent years have returned the splendor of craft beer to Brussels, where until then only Cantillon continued to produce the precious malt drink within the city. The rest were absorbed by large manufacturers or moved their facilities, due to size, to the outskirts.
The brothers Edouard and Charles Grison are behind the ambitious project of Brasserie Surréaliste, built in an old banana warehouse, in art deco style, built in 1932, in the heart of Dansaert, one of the fashionable neighborhoods for going out. Before becoming this brewery, it was also the workshop of a hatter, Coppens, and the elegance of everything that a headdress represents is still present in every corner, after a careful renovation where the exposed brick walls and the industrial air combine. with fine wood furniture and elegant teardrop lamps.
After some testing time in their parents’ garage playing with brewing, the Grison brothers launched their own beer brand four years ago. Soon, the so-called Surréaliste became their star beer. It is a pale ale style drink, considered rare due to the type of beer that is made in Belgian lands. It is presented in a vibrantly colored container with an eye inside a hand, which emulates the symbol of surrealism that permeates its entire universe. In flavor, “it is juicy, but balanced, with intense tropical and hop aromas,” Edouard describes it.
In addition to their well-known series of IPA beers, among the different types they produce they also have a line of aged beers that spend 6 to 18 months in used wine or spirits barrels and are bottled by hand. While customers have a beer or dinner upstairs, the malt goes through one of its processes, whether maceration or fermentation, in the underground plant, where the tankers and other machines used to make the most consumed alcoholic beverage are hidden. of the world.
Beyond the passion for beer, Brasserie Surréaliste, which also has 500 distribution points in Belgium and nearby countries such as the Netherlands, France, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany and the United Kingdom, is a project that wants to boost leisure in the neighborhood. by Dansaert. Next to a bar with dozens of different handles, there is the restaurant with its own kitchen and a room where artistic events are held. Many nights there are DJ sessions or live music. In a short time it has become a busy space, where the hours pass without rushing.
The ambitious project of the Grison brothers, of 1,500 square meters, is one of the craft breweries that has returned brewing factories to Brussels in the last decade, according to Olivier Marette, gastronomy expert. While in other parts of the world the emergence of craft beer had already skyrocketed, the movement took a little longer to reach the Belgian capital, which is now enjoying great dynamism. Perhaps the omnipresence of more established historical brands with large production, which in general no longer produce in the city, but moved their factories to the outskirts or were absorbed by larger firms, had something to do with the delay of the manufacturing boom. craft beer.
One of the most typical and that continues to produce its drinks in the urban area is Brasserie Cantillon, which is a symbol of the Belgian capital, the only one that continued making beer in the city in the 2000s, when previously there were a hundred. In addition to Grand Place and Manneken Pis, it can be said that Cantillon is still standing there as always, without interruptions since 1900. By booking a tour you can visit and learn everything that surrounds the production of lambic beer, the typical one there. , made with wild yeasts obtained by spontaneous fermentation, which give a strong acidic flavor to the drink.
One of the pioneers of this movement of return to artisanal factories within the city has been Brasserie de la Senne, which started in 2003 with a small brewery in the municipality of Sint-Pieters-Leeuw, in the former warehouse of the Moriau brewery, which they called Sint-Pieter Brouwerij. The project was so successful that years later, the owners moved it to their native Brussels and named their new brewery after the river that saw the birth of the city of Brussels more than a thousand years ago.
Without knowing it, they created the hope of other small brewers who followed in their wake to re-establish small artisan factories in the Belgian capital, recognized worldwide for its love of beer. These are very personal spaces, which take care of the product in detail to differentiate themselves from the large industry. Many are located on the banks of the canal and in Saint-Gilles and Anderlecht. They are good examples of this dynamism The Source either The Jungle, in addition to the most incipient Osma.
The MIMA museum is housed in the former Bellevue brewery
Some of the former breweries that were deserted when their production moved out of the city have found new tenants. It is the case of MY MA (Millennium Iconoclastic Art Museum), the newest museum in Brussels, opened in the Bellevue headquarters, next to the river, in the stigmatized Molenbeek neighborhood. It is a contemporary art center that opened in 2016 to show art made from the 21st century. Urban, graphic, musical, sports and very digital culture bathes its rooms. Until December 31 you can discover the work of Jean Julien beyond the famous Eiffel Tower converted into a symbol of peace that went viral after the terrorist attacks in Paris, with colorful drawings that are snippets of his life.
The Stock Exchange Palace converted into the beer museum
Both for its large and smaller brewers, Brussels does not want to lose steam as a benchmark for beer throughout the world. The Belgian capital has recently spent 90 million remodeling the Stock Exchange Palace to house a large museum dedicated to this drink, which opened a couple of months ago. With a thorough remodeling, the building has an area for temporary exhibitions, concerts and events, a space for coworking, a restaurant and a large museum of Belgian beer, its star project. The space, which expects to receive around 300,000 visitors in 2024 and double that number each year after four years, claims Brussels as the capital of beer.
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