From the wellspring of great brewing that is Belgium comes the Van Steenberge family brewery. Founded in 1874 by Jean-Baptist De Bruin, the brewery has remained in the family since. Jean-Babtist set up a brewery next to his farm. Despite his marriage to wife Angelina Schelfaut, the couple remained childless. Never a good thing for those with visions of keeping the family brewery going. Fortunately, Angelina's nephew, Jozef Schelfaut, had learned the art of brewing, and upon Angelina’s death (at the age of 92!), she entrusted Jozef Schelfaut with running the family brewery.
The benefit of being a farm-based brewery is that, in theory, you can produce just about every ingredient necessary for the brewing process. But it’s no small feat to do so. These days, nearly all brewers order their gains already malted and already kilned, and their hops already plucked or even pressed into pellet form. But this was not the route that Jozef Schelfaut took. In order to provide for the production of the necessary ingredients, he (admirably) set up his own two-hectare hops field and also constructed a malt house and accompanying oasthouse (the name for a traditional hops drying building).
Jozef Schelfaut: builder, brewer, maltster, harvester of hops, and shrewd businessman, able to get his beers featured near and far, helping secure the success of his family brewery. His daughter, Margriet, wed Paul Van Steenberge, a chemical engineer who became a professor of microbiology at the Sint-Lievens brewery school in Ghent and at the Agriculture Faculty of the University of Ghent. When Jozef Schelfaut died in 1922, Paul Van Steenberge had gained enough knowledge to take over the family business, and eventually became the mayor of Ertvelde. Being busy on the mayoral front, it was largely thanks to his wife Margriet that the brewery stayed alive, particularly as Paul moved from mayor to senator.
Paul’s son, Jozef, studied law but still ended up in the brewery, taking over the business after his father's death in 1962. Today, Paul Van Steenberge (II), son of Jozef and grandson of Paul Van Steenberge (I), heads the brewery. He entered the family business in 1978 and in 1985 took over the management from his father. The brewery produces some very highly acclaimed beers, most quite difficult to find (you may have come across their famed ‘Piraat’, a brutally hopped, uncommon Belgian IPA style beer, and their world classic ‘Gulden Draak’ beers). We snatched up one of their very limited edition, barely distributed products for our members—so, get your bottles chilled, your appropriate glassware ready, proceed on to the tasting notes, and enjoy this rare beer!