When Belgium’s Wallonia Trade & Investment Agency (AWEX) and Flanders Investment & Trade (FIT) recently held a beer trade event to promote Belgian breweries and their beer to find import and distribution relationships here in Singapore and around the region, one of the breweries present was Brouwerij De Halve Maan. Except that it had already found a distribution partner here in Epicurean Nomads.
The story started in the fall of 2014, when Epicurean Nomads director and partner Joan Lim embarked on an expedition to Belgium to search for a range of beers to enlarge its portfolio of beers. For them to be in Belgium was interesting on two fronts – Epicurean Nomads was better known as a sake importer, bringing in a number of premium sakes to Singapore from Japan, and Belgium was hardly a place to look for sake breweries to represent. And then there was its portfolio of beers, with the likes of Swan Lake, Nahsu Kohgen and Baird, were also exclusively from Japan and focused on the premium artisanal segment.
Lim’s search across Belgium brought her to visit over 10 breweries, but one stood out – Brouwerij De Halve Maan, or Half Moon Brewery, located right smack in the middle of the ancient medieval town of Brugge. What struck her was its rich brewing heritage dating back to the 1500s, and despite repeated buy-out offers and takeover bids throughout the centuries, De Halve Mann remains an independent, family-owned brewery till this day.
What also impressed her was the fact that, unlike some other Belgian breweries, owner Xavier Vanneste (main picture) and his team stays away from contract brewing for other brands, full devoting their time and resources on their own two brands. This resulted in its tight and well-curated lineup of beers that scores brilliantly on the drinkability front – the sessionable Brugse Zot, and its stronger, more assertive sister line Straffe Hendrik.
Both lines were not just well-respected but award-winning – both the Brugse Zot Blonde and Brugse Zot Dubbel won gold medals in European Beer Star in 2006 (the Dubbel repeated its gold medal win in 2009), while the Straffe Hendrik Tripel also landed a gold medal in European Beer Star 2009. Then the brewery itself picked up the World Beer Awards’s World’s Best Belgian Style Blonde in 2012, then Europe’s Best Belgian Style Dubbel as well as Europe’s Best Experimental Speciality in the same competition in 2014 for its Straffe Hendrik Wild.
Thankfully for the team at Epicurean Nomads De Halve Maan was, with export markets in China, Thailand and Japan, already ready for export. Even then it took over six months to sort out the logistics for the first shipment.
- Brugse Zot Blonde (bottles & kegs)
- Brugse Zot Dubbel (bottles & kegs)
- Straffe Hendrik Tripel (bottles & kegs)
- Straffe Hendrik Quadrupel (bottles & kegs)
- Straffe Hendrik Wild
- Straffe Hendrik Heritage
Brouwerij De Halve Maan beers will be available in Singapore from the third week of November onwards. “Our intention is to work with our partners to develop five De Halve Mann concept outlets within the next 12-18 months where a full range of Brugse & Straffe Hendrik beers are served on tap,” reveals Charles Ng, director and partner at Epicurean Nomads.