KU Leuven and VIB open an experimental brewery

27 October 2017
​Professor Kevin Verstrepen (VIB-KU Leuven) and his research group are starting an experimental brewery at the Kasteelpark in Arenberg (Heverlee). The official inauguration took place on Friday 27 October. Professor Verstrepen’s team is known across the globe for its research into yeast. Their expertise and extensive yeast databank, among other things, have laid the foundations for numerous new beer flavors. This has been achieved through collaborations with large and small breweries both at home and abroad. Now, with support from Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev), Professor Verstrepen is setting up his own brewery. 
Together with his team, Kevin Verstrepen studies why certain yeast cells evolve faster than others. With that knowledge, he researches new strains of yeast for a wide range of applications: from beer and wine to bread and industrial ethanol. The research group has been working on yeast strains that give beer more flavor, that easily precipitate (for clear beer), that precipitate less (for cloudy white beer), that can break down complex sugars, that are more resistant to higher alcohol percentages or temperatures and that can ferment faster and better.
Working with the breweries, this research has already resulted in new beers. 
Professor Kevin Verstrepen (VIB-KU Leuven): “Having our own brewery enables us to improve how we test our new yeasts. We can make up to 10 liters of beer in the laboratory and we see that the yeasts sometimes act differently in large breweries that use kettles holding thousands of liters. Now that we have our own brewery we can also test the very best yeasts on a larger scale.”

David De Schutter, Director of Technology Transfer and Process Development at AB InBev: “For many years now, AB InBev has had close ties with KU Leuven, and Professor Verstrepen’s research team in particular. Working alongside his team at VIB and KU Leuven, our global technology center has been carrying out research into new yeast strains. We are delighted that we can help Professor Verstrepen’s team make their ambitions for this new experimental brewery come true. With the opening of the new experimental brewery, VIB and KU Leuven are taking a step forward, which we as a world player in Belgium will undoubtedly benefit from. Moreover, the brewery will also introduce bio-engineering students to the brewing process and that is interesting for AB InBev and the many other Belgian breweries.”  

Brewing engineer Stijn Mertens (VIB-KU Leuven): “Our new experimental brewery is equipped with all the latest technical gadgets, which besides high reproducibility and quality also enables flexibility in the production process. This makes our installation the ideal test facility for new yeasts, and also to test and perfect new recipes. We have currently already scheduled the first commissions from the industry, and that is something we are really looking forward to.”

Kevin Verstrepen en Stijn Mertens ©KULeuven_Rob Stevens

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