What I love about my job is connecting with fellow foodie folk, who are as passionate as me about food and drink. I had the pleasure of meeting Steve Snauwaert during a restaurant launch earlier this year. Steve is the Export Manager at Halve Maan, brewery based in Bruges, Belgium. Find out what he had to say about craft beer, why there’s a boom in this particular industry, and how you can visit the brewery for a tour and lunch.
Hi Steve, thank you for your time. You’re Export Manager at Halve Maan, what exactly does that entail?
I’m responsible for export business of the company including our sales teams, our own companies in China and Mexico, and importers in foreign countries. In Belgium I manage part of the commercial team together with the owner of the brewery. I travel frequently all over the world, to follow up on our own subsidiaries, sales teams, and importers.
How long have you been with De Halve Maan? What is the best thing about this brewery?
I’ve been in charge for the past three years. Some of the great aspects of this company are the vision and the growth potential. Not many companies have the same vision combined with a huge potential towards exports.
An example of vision is the beer pipeline we’ve constructed to connect the brewery in the centre with the bottling plant 3km outside of the centre. It’s a unique project that shows we think long term.
Halve Maan has 6 beers, 2 brands; Brugse Zot and Straffe Hendrik. Which is your favourite?
The correct answer would be ‘’I like them all equally’’. On the other hand, if you force me to tell you my favourite, I would have to go with the Straffe Hendrik Tripel from the keg. The Straffe Hendrik Heritage. 🙂
What are the peak periods of the year for you? It’s Christmas Day next week, do you see a spike in sales, as people get into the festive spirit?
For sure around the festive period. But in general, it is very busy all year around to be honest. Depending on the season we sell more of a specific kind of beer. Traditionally in the summer Brugse Zot Blond sells really well, while in the winter we see peaks towards the darker, more heavier beers like Straffe Hendrik Quadrupel.
Where is your brewery and tavern? Would it be possible to see both in one visit?
Our unique brewery is located in the heart of the city centre of Bruges, Belgium. Our brewery has over 130.000 visitors every year and we have more than 20 guides to guide all the people in the brewery. After taking a tour in the brewery you can also eat some typical Belgian dishes inside the brewery. So yes, both are in the same place!
You’re a la carte menu looks great, especially the waffle and whipped cream dessert. What beer would you recommend with dessert?
Definitely the Straffe Hendrik Quadrupel or Heritage.
There is an increased interest in craft beer. What would you say to those curious in learning more about beer and Halve Maan?
I would recommend to get into an establishment that stocks craft and specialty beers. Try as many as possible and try to remember which styles of beers you like. Out of all the styles you like, you can find many different brands from all over the world. Eventually we hope you’ll get to the Belgian beers and stick to them.
The very best way to get to know our beer is to come and visit our brewery and taste our beers here in Bruges. Unfiltered beers straight from the keg! Of course, you can also go to the fantastic Brugse Zot bar in Nottingham (top floor at Belgo Nottingham). There you can taste a variety of Belgian Beers and all the beers of our brewery De Halve Maan.
How do you think Halve Maan beers compares to other craft beers?
We have a more traditional, consistent style of beer, brewed in a family brewery with the know-how of six generations. We focus on four styles and strive for continuous perfection within these styles in order to get people from around the world acquainted with our beers and brewery.
Belgo’s in Nottingham stock your delicious Brugse Zot beer. Which other UK suppliers are there (just so I can visit)?
Too much to put into a list. We’re available in all Belgo restaurants in UK and a huge variety of bars/pubs/restaurants widely spread across the UK.
What do you look for in an establishment to stock your award-winning beers?
We’re looking for businesses that strive for great service and quality in serving beers and food. Establishments that want to stock something else than the mainstream lager beers and want to offer a solid selection of high quality beers available on kegs and in bottles.
Thank you for your time Steve, it’s been great learning more about craft beers and the Halve Maan stable. If you’re curious about craft beer and want to find out more about the brewery, please hop onto website www.halvemaan.be now.