Speciality beer as a tribute to mining history

A ‘Kompel Bovengronds’? - Cheers!

‘Kompel’? That’s the beer of the mining area! You see it everywhere these days at concerts, festivals and on pub terraces. ‘Kompel (collier/pitman) is a local specialist beer intended as a tribute to miners and mining in the past’, say Frederic Fabry and Sandro Di Pietro, the men behind ‘Kompel’. They have very full diaries. ‘Many weekends are already fully booked this year’, they say proudly from the shade of their favourite location – of course – the headframes of Eisden, once home to the colliers.


A miner’s beer?


‘Yes, definitely. As beer fans, we played with the idea of brewing a specialist beer that recalls our mining past. We approached the small-scale brewery ‘Anders!’ in Halen. These brewers have a solid reputation for creating bespoke beers, and brewing them in small volumes. We opted for a blonde beer without herbs, comprising various different varieties of hop. After much experimentation and tasting, we presented our ‘Kompel Bovengronds’ (collier above-ground) in the spring of 2015.’


It was an immediate hit.


‘Yes, to this day, that blonde beer is still our showpiece. This beer is also appreciated by experts, because in 2018 we won a prize with it, in a blind testing which is a standard for wholesalers – for those in the know: ITQI.’


Meanwhile, they went all out to sell Kompel beer in hotels, cafés and restaurants, off-licenses and supermarkets.


‘It’s going so well that our brewer couldn’t keep up with demand. That’s why, in 2019, we took a chance on ‘Proefbrouwerij’ at Lochristie, which is able to brew high volumes, but due to its brewing process, is also able to supply an even better quality of beer.


At this time, Kompel has a range of 9 beers. And also a Nostalgia Collection. 


'We are proud of the Nostalgia Collection. It’s a limited edition series, whereby we launch a new design, with a new story and type of beer, every 3 months. It’s very sought after, but when it’s sold out, it’s sold out!’


And we haven’t even mentioned ‘Prion de Fleurs’ yet - a real local product made with honey from the Mechelse Heide.


‘In 2017, we wanted to help commemorate the Limburg mine closures thirty years ago, with a special local beer. Once we’d managed to buy up the entire heather honey stock of a local bee-keeper, we wrote out a recipe for ‘Prion de Fleurs’, named after one of the two mine headframes of Eisden. This beer was voted the World’s Best Honey Beer at the 2018 and 2021 World Beer Awards & World Beer Cup.’ - And the ‘L’Or Noir’ is every bit as good, and in 2021 was voted the World’s Best Tripel at the World Beer Awards.


You don’t just limit yourselves to beer.


‘No, that’s true. In addition to beer, we also have a whole range of spirits: Beerliquor, Pink Gin and Regular Gin. The packaging in itself is a souvenir, with a reference to the mining past.’


You don’t ever stop.


‘Never. We are brimming over with ideas and ambition. We have pretty concrete plans to build a brewery complex, with party/banquet rooms, a ‘Kompel’ pub & bistro, and offices.’


Well, I wish you a lot of luck in the future.