So who was Gilbert van Schoonbeke?
There is a lot to be said about him, but we’ll keep it very, very short. In the 16th century, the golden age of Antwerp, the city was growing tremendously and there was an incredible demand for more living space. Gilbert van Schoonbeke was the right man at the right time and developed huge new sections of the city, of course making him a ton of money. But his most important achievement would be the development of a new and very big port and the construction of new city walls. He was born in 1519, which is why he’s celebrated this year.
Okay, so he made a lot of money by building? Why is he so important?
Because when you visit Antwerp today all of his project still determine the look and feel of the city. It’s his influence that made Antwerp into what it is today.
But why two beers?
Because when he developed the new port, he also made all the breweries in the city move there, and he got himself a monopoly on all the water for all breweries. So we remember him as a “beer guy”. And two beers because he went to get his peat in the Dutch town of Veenendaal, en they also wanted to celebrate his birthday.
So what are the beers like?
They are both beers with an old fashioned recipe, both use honey, and are made according to local traditions. The one from Antwerp uses buckwheat, which the beers from Antwerp were known for 500 years ago. The one from Veenendaal uses peated malt, which gives it a bit of smokey flavour.