Ieper van 't vat - publication archive service (City of Ypres)
BEER IN YPRES
Ypres has a rich history when it comes to beer. Although the city boasted almost thirty breweries and distilleries halfway through the seventeenth century, only five breweries reopened after the First World War. The Brasserie Centrale Yproise, was established in 1922 with government funding made available to various breweries as compensation for war damages. The brewery was renamed the Ypersche Centrale Brouwerij in 1941 and given the name Brouwerij Roberg in 1960. Brasserie La Cour de Bruxelles in Diksmuidestraat became Brouwerij Vermeulen in 1836. The last municipal brewery active in Ypres closed its doors in November 1976.
Two families of brewers join forces
Kazematten, the Ypres City Brewery, is the creative brainchild of Hans Depypere (CEO of the St.Bernardus Brewery) and Rudi Ghequire (master brewer and brand ambassador of Rodenbach). Hans had dreamt about starting a microbrewery for years, and his quest for the perfect location had been a long and difficult one. The project gained momentum when the St.Bernardus Brewery started looking for a new location to brew its Grotten Santé. It was Rudi Ghequire – one of Hans’ closest friends – who drew his attention to a unique location: the casemates of Ypres. And so, at the instigation of both beer-brewing families, Brouwerij Kazematten was born and Ypres could once again boast a municipal brewery after a hiatus of more than 35 years.
Facade Kazematten - Houten Paard - Anno 2021
Ypres' ramparts - Anno 1919
If walls could speak
The unique, historic casemates of Het Houten Paard at the Lille Gate are situated in the ramparts surrounding the city of Ypres. In 2014, it became apparent that this was an ideal place to brew beer, but the history of these casemates is unrivalled.
The ramparts of Ypres – and therefore our three unique casemates or basements – were built around 1680 according to plans drawn up by Mr Vauban, Louis XIV’s foremost engineer for similar structures. The casemates had been used to store ammunition and army equipment for centuries. They also served as a hiding place and sleeping quarters for troops that defended Ypres during numerous sieges. British troops, for example, used the casemates as an officers’ mess during the Great War. Their command post, common room and field hospital were all located at the ‘Hotel des Ramparts’, as they ironically referred to the casemates. It was also here that the British soldiers printed their satirical newspaper The Wipers Times.
Niek Benoot - Hooge Crater Museum
THE LINK WITH HOOGE CRATER
Quote: Niek Benoot – Hooge Crater Museum: “When I conducted research in 2013, together with sales manager Marco Passarella, we discovered something very interesting. We found out that there was an important historical connection between the Twelfth Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters – during WWI – and Meenseweg and Het Hooge, where our museum is located. This is why the words ‘Ypres & Hooge’ are always printed on the reverse side of The Wipers Times. More than a century ago, they fought valiantly at Het Hooge to later put their adventures into perspective by writing about them in an amusing way in their newspaper, The Wipers Times. The fact that the beer offered by the Hooge Crater Museum is brewed where this newspaper was once printed is of tremendous symbolical value to us, and our way of paying homage to their courage and vigour.”
THE BEGINNING OF A NEW CHAPTER
In 2013, Koen Hugelier and Rudi Ghequire joined forces to brew the first batch of their Wipers Times Blond beer. It was a great success, which Rudi recalls as one of the happiest days of his career as a brewer. Hugelier has personally brewed every drop of beer ever since. He takes full responsibility for the artisanal brewing process, even going so far as removing the draff (the spent grain) from the brewing kettle. After the beer has been allowed to rest sufficiently in the lager tanks, it is transported in tanks to Watou where it is bottled at the St.Bernardus Brewery.
Rudi Ghequire (c) Sophie Callewaert
A NEW GENERATION
Hans and Rudi left the honour to their children Julie Depypere and Maarten Ghequire to steer the frothy project of their dreams in the right direction – it runs in the family. With success, because the brewery’s flagship beverage – its Wipers Times Blond – won them a lot of awards at international beer competitions: one bronze medal at the Brussels Beer Challenge in 2017 and another at the World Beer Awards 2020 in the category ‘Belgian Style Blond’. The World Beer Awards 2021 were also a huge success: Wipers Times Blond was crowned 'Country Winner', in addition to the gold medal, and also voted as 'Best Belgian Style Blond'. The rebranding of the beer also won a bronze medal in the category 'Redesign / relaunch'. Furthermore, Wipers Times Dubbel won a bronze medal at the World Beer Awards 2021 in the category 'Herb & Spice' and Tremist won a silver medal in the category 'Saison'.