André Janssens’ company from Tildonk lost 75 percent of its turnover in one fell swoop in March. In normal times, his Hof ten Dormaal brewery exports most of its beer to countries such as the United States, Spain and Italy, and Scandinavia. “The orders were dropped, but burying your head in the sand was not an option.”
He and his three children started an online store. ‘My son and I delivered the beer to people’s homes, within a radius of 25 kilometers from our brewery. We also started delivering in Brussels. ‘
We normally have the same turnover as last year, but we have to work much harder for it.
Janssens found a lot of new customers via Facebook, but he could also count on the number of customers he had committed to over the past twelve years. Hof ten Dormaal is not a well-known brewery, but it is in the world of beer lovers. The beer is available at beer shops and cafes.
Squeeze to death
Due to corona, a taboo was broken at Hof ten Dormaal. ‘I never had to know anything about supermarkets, but we have recently started on the shelves of five Carrefour hypermarkets. Recently, one of our beers has also been available in fifty Colruyt stores. ‘
‘I thought: supermarkets are good for their customers, but their suppliers are killing them. I haven’t noticed any of that for the time being, I must admit. ‘
When I started brewing, I wasn’t into beer. In fact, I never drank it.
Last year, Hof ten Dormaal achieved a turnover of 500,000 euros. It will also touch on that this year. ‘We have to work much harder for it,’ says Janssens. ‘We used to just have to wait for orders from abroad. Now nothing comes in anymore. Anyway, things have been getting better recently. We just shipped another shipment of beer to the US and Taiwan. One to Hong Kong soon. ‘
Corona is a big challenge, but Janssens has already had to deal with bigger setbacks. Twelve years ago he was an accountant and had his own business. But then he had a brain haemorrhage. ‘I had to close my office. I remained a secondary occupation farmer. ‘
‘But to do something about my despair and because I had to find myself again, I started brewing beer. I wasn’t into beer at all. In fact, I never drank it. ‘
Five years ago his brewery burned down. Janssens rebuilt them.
He brews his beer with the raw materials he makes himself as a farmer. They are not classic beers. He brews white gold with the roots of chicory. He adds gooseberries to a variant of the Zure van Tildonk. Frambuesa y Chocolate is aged for six months in a barrel with raspberries and chocolate. ‘We brew for enthusiasts. They want something special, and they don’t drink the same thing twice. ‘