There are two parts to the history of Brewery Caracole, an ancient and a more modern one. The ancient part goes by the actual ambiguity to which this brewery was founded, some claim 1765 others 1766, as the brewer Francois himself admitted to our team during Belgibeer’s visit.
Nonetheless somewhere between 1765 and 1766 a local family the Moussoux decided to build a brewery in the Dinant area, in a small village called Falmignoul. The village was famous for the battle which took place on its territory in 1790 between the Holy Roman Empire and the United Belgian States.
Seven generations of brewers from the Moussoux family succeeded until in 1939 a violent storm collapsed the huge chimney overlooking the brewery destroying entirely the brewery’s facade.
This was unfortunately the end of ancient history as the family had no choice but to sell the entire building to their head engineering brewer, Mr. Lamotte, who continued to brew beer until the 1970s.
Then one day in 1992, the abandoned brewery faced a new beginning as it entered a new era. This modern era starts in 1992 when a Namurois, Francois Tonglet had the ambitious idea to relaunch the brewery and raise it from its ashes.
Francois got passioned about brewing while he studied engineering at Louvain-La-Neuve University, a French speaking institution about 40Km south of Brussels. He got passioned by specialty Belgian beers during the numerous University club’s nights, which he begun to sell during numerous events.
In 1984, he opened a store selling local craft products which also included beers. Unfortunately, artisanal foods in the 80s did not have today’s hypes among the local population. Nonetheless, most customers were uniquely interested in the various craft beers Francois was selling. Shortly after he made it a life mission to learn more about craft beers and became a renowned beer specialist.
One day in 1986 together with a friend, Jean-Pierre de Bras who studied biology engineering, Francois decided to open his own brewing facility, which became effective in 1990 in Namur. This early brewing facility was very small and three of the current beer ranges begun being produced (Saxo, Troublette, Caracole).
At that time, microbreweries were hard to build in Belgium due to demanding tax regulations which requested aspiring brewers to quickly become professionals and not mere amateurs. The duo set out to look for equipment to increase capacity and came across an abandoned brewery in the village of Falmignoul about 10Km from Dinant.
Upon arrival, it was love at first sight! As soon as the duo- and their wives- discovered the building with its old equipment, a purchase agreement was signed, and they became owners of the then called Lamotte brewery by the end of 1992.
A large renovation project followed which lasted for about 18 months and the first brewing activity began shortly after in 1994. The first beer to every be brewed there was a blond ale. This first brewing experienced lasted almost 24 consecutive hours!
The first year of production at the new facility, 180HL were produced followed by 360HL a year later. Today the brewery produces about 1500HL per year (1HL= 100L= 26.4 Gallons). Francois believes this to be a reasonable limit considering the equipment used and the avoidance of modern day technologies which may speed up the process.
In the year 2000, a first brewer was hired to support daily operations and a sales representative, Charles Fontaine, a beer aficionado who also wrote a best-selling book “la Belgique par la bière, la bière par la Belgique” and created the European Beer Museum.
Since 2014, Francois acquired the entirety of the brewery’s shares from his former partner and today the Tonglet family controls every aspect associated with “Brasserie Caracole”. Gilles, Francois’ son, studied marketing and joining forces in September 2016. He underwent a strict brewing training and since 2019 he oversees most business aspects.
Gilles unfortunately has no intentions of taking over his father’s brewing activities as he wishes to open his own marketing and publicity agency together with other fellow university peers. The future for the brewery is hence uncertain as Francois is a little over 60 and both his sons have little interest in taking over their father’s greatest interest.
In 2021 Francois will begin looking for possible buyers, interested in taking over Brasserie Caracole in the hope that this glorious establishment may continue to shine for many years to come.
ABV : 7.9%
VOL : 33 cl
EBC : 27
T ° : 8-11°C
Anecdote: This first beer is named after the brewery and it is honouring “snails” and the city of Namur, where everything is done slowly. Snails, a local culinary treat, are often served with this beer. There is also a snail farm which cooks and prepares them with this beer.
Eye: Clear deep blond-amber beer, creamy white head, stable, bit adhesive.
Aroma: Yeast, bit spicy, sweet, malty, funky touch, some banana.
Taste: At first smoky, bitter, hoppy, bit grassy, metallic touch, yeast. Aftertaste is floral with a peated malt touch, bit sweet and fruity.
Food: Snails, pork’s shine with beer based gravy.
ABV : 9.2%
VOL : 33 cl
EBC : 85
T ° : 11-14°C
Anecdote: Contains 5 different malts and was created following Nostradamus’ prophecy predicting the end of the world in the year 2000. It was rebranded as the brewery’s Christmas beer in the past. It won the bronze medal at the World Beer Awards in 2017.
Eye: Pours a murky dark copper, with a typical massive Belgian light tan head. Fair lacing.
Aroma: Nose is sour dark fruit and Trappist yeast.
Taste: Smooth, with slightly sweet sour dark fruit up front, and a slight tang on the finish.
Food: It pairs perfectly with Chocolate Mousse or any other chocolate puddings.
ABV : 5.6%
VOL : 33 cl
EBC : 8
T ° : 4-7°C
Anecdote: This is the brewery’s white beer (Blanche). The brewer defines it as a mixture between a Gueuze and Blanches for a perfect thirst quencher during the warm season. Previously it was produced using lemon juice, but this is no longer the case.
Eye: Pours golden amber with thick off-white foam.
Aroma: Initial lemon, hop light celery and light malt.
Taste: Tropical fruits and citrus in-mouth, with elderflower. A tangy lemon citrus fruity finish. Zingy mouthfeel and a light body.
Food: Salads seasoned with great quality vinegars and all kinds of fishes.
ABV : 7.7%
VOL : 33 cl
EBC : 12
T ° : 8-11°C
Anecdote: Initially brewed to honour a local Dinant’s born hero, vastly known in the musical world: Antoine-Joseph Sax, inventor of the Saxophone and the Saxhorn.
Eye: A beautifully golden brew with a white puffy head. Lots of carbonation keeps the head alive.
Aroma: Malty nose and a fresh initial delivery of malt flavour will transcend into fruity and spicy/hop sweetness that lingers with the bubbly character.
Taste: Crisp with notes of citrus, yeast and clove. Nicely balanced and a long finish.
Food: Red meats. Try it also with a locally produced salami which you can purchase at “Salaisons du Pont d’Amour” (details in the following section).
Visiting the brewery
Address: 86 Côte Marie-Thérèse, BE-5500 Falmignoul (Dinant), Belgium
Tel: + 32 (0) 82 74 40 80
Visits: Open every afternoon on Saturday and Sunday. The brewery also possesses a large pub where all brews can be tasted together with local treats such as salamis, cheeses and occasionally snails (a local delicatessen).