Yes, this is a beer club, so it won't be a shocker that the Wallonian region of Belgium, wherefrom our featured international brewery hails, is known for its beer. No doubt, the entire country is renowned for its amazing malty libations. But what you might not know is that the area of Ath is home to more than our featured brewery... This is the land of the Giants! In fact, Ath is known for its annual Parade of Giants in which Goliath, locally known as "Gouyasse", leads brass bands and fellow colossal-sized kinsmen through the streets, towering above carnival floats and groups of more ordinary-sized citizens in customary costumes. This tradition dates back to the Middle Ages and has been repeated here ever since. Hence the name chosen for the brewery that was started here in 2000: Brasserie des Géants (a.k.a. the Giants' Brewery).
Not only do they produce colossal beers that live up to the brewery's name, their digs are rather sizeable as well. Incorporated into the remarkably well-preserved remains of the thirteenth century Castle d'Irchonwelz, the site is an amalgamation of quaint charm and indomitable fortitude. And, as they're quick to point out on brewery tours (yes, they are open for tours--get there if you can), their entry gate is hung high enough to permit the occasional giants who may wish to stop in for a quick pint--well, make that a keg--of beer.
The brewery was founded, built, and is run by a young couple, Pierre Delcoigne and Vinciane Wergifosse. Pierre, a graduate of the famed Brewing Engineering program of the Louvain School of Brewing, has been brewing strong for years now. In 1997, he and Vinciane acquired the Castle d'Irchonwelz in order to develop their ambitions of creating the Giants' Brewery. After two full years of construction and set up, the brewery opened. Their first brew, known as "Gouyasse" (Goliath in the local dialect), went on sale in August 2000 (perfect timing, as the annual festival of Giants is held during the fourth weekend of August).
Their brewing equipment is comprised of old world items, such as their cast iron 1930s boiling vessel and 1890s mash tun, as well as state of the art components like their double skinned, temperature regulated, cylindro-conical stainless steel fermenters. The result is a careful blending of old-world tradition and modern day brewing science that yield truly sublime beers, fit for giant thirsts--and Giants--alike.
For more information about the brewery, check out their web site: http://www.brasseriedesgeants.com.