Conversation with Thijs Maenhout

Qiuxia Welch, Co-founder Boom Island Brewing

On February 23, we released our first collaboration beer created in partnership with a small Belgian brewery, Brouwerij Maenhout. The beer, Kollusion, is a Russian Imperial Stout. It’s not a style commonly associated with Belgium, and neither Brouwerij Maenhout or Boom Island has released one before. I checked in with Thijs Maenhout to get his thoughts on the experience.

What inspired this collaboration?

It was a fun experiment! Kollusion has been very well received in Belgium, in fact it sold out in three days! I have never made a stout before, and I was excited to try something new. Here in Belgium traditions are strong. People like to drink what they are familiar with over and over. But as a brewer, I like to try new things and experiment with new styles. It can be boring if you just make same beer every day. I’d like to brew more collaborations with Boom Island. I think we could learn more if we were to brew side by side.

What is your favorite Russian Imperial Stout?

Mmm…honestly, I have never had one before! This beer was a pure experiment and I had a lot fun making it.

What are your thoughts about the craft beer industry in America today?

I am very interested in learning more about the U.S. craft beer industry. I’m a member of the Brewers Association and I’m active on many online craft beer forums. Belgium and the U.S. are very different. Here in Belgium, people stick to traditions. It takes a long time for brewers to come out with new beers, because our consumers like to drink the same beer that they have been drinking for years. It is changing, but slowly. There are more hoppy beers now in Belgium, and brewers are experimenting more with other styles. I like what is happening in the U.S. The market is very diverse. Brewers and consumers aren’t afraid to try new things, and they’re not afraid to think outside the box. Sometimes these new beers work, sometimes they don’t. People just move on and keep trying new things. I like that. I like that spirit. That is why I want to collaborate with Kevin and learn from him.

This collaboration is a story of what’s possible when two breweries from different countries learn from each other. What would you like people in the U.S. to know about Belgian beers?

Two things. Tradition and balance. We have a long history of making beer, so there is a lot of knowledge that comes from brewing Trappist beers to lambic and gueuze beers. These traditions have been passed down for hundreds of years. Belgians are good at brewing! Another thing is balance. We always try to make balanced beer. It is never too bitter, or too sweet. We believe that is essential for making good beer.

What do you say to people who say “I don’t like Belgian beer.”

Try another. There are over 1,600 different beers in Belgium. Trust me, you’ll find one you like.

Thank you so much for taking time to talk about this collaboration. Do you have plans for another one?

Yes! I am looking forward to brewing another beer with Boom Island when you Kevin come to Belgium in April with your tour group.


More readings on Belgian beer history and Belgian beers:

The Great Beers of Belgium – Michael Jackson

CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide to Belgium – Tim Webb, Joe Stange

The Belgian Beer Book – Erick Verdonck



Sneak Peek: 2015 Winterfest


On Friday, February 27th, Boom Island Brewery will be featuring the following expertly crafted Belgian Brews:

Brimstone Tripel: Big body, creamy yet crisp nuanced yeast character and spices layered on light fruit notes, and a long lasting white head

Hoodoo Dubbel: Rich and complex dark malt flavors accented deftly by banana, clove, and low hop bitterness. Hoodoo pours lush, deep brown and red highlights with a thick, long-lasting beige head and malt aroma

Zarathirstra: Specially brewed for the Minnesota Orchestra’s Strauss Festival 2014. Light Vienna and Munich malts are highlighted by an assertive hop bitterness and dry finish. This Belgian Bitter is on tap exclusively at Orchestra Hall and our taproom

Gravity No. 9: The newest addition to the Boom Island family is a Tequila Barrel Aged Belgian Strong fermented with plums

Noire: Our Black IPA is fermented with dark Belgian candy sugar and dry hopped with Citra and Columbus hops

Cuvée de Boom: A special beer brewed for the first annual Boom Days Festival in 2014, this blend of 55% blonde ale and fermented with 45% Pinot Grigio grapes, combines flavor elements of both a golden ale and a dry sparkling white wine

WinterFest Beauty Pic

Tickets are still available for this Year’s Winterfest! This year Winterfest will feature more than 60 Minnesota breweries and brewpubs, showcasing their specialty, season, and year round beers across two nights. The beautiful venue, catered cuisine, live music, and specialty beers for sampling always make Winterfest an event to remember. Get your tickets for one or both nights of the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild’s premier Winter event Feb. 27 & Feb. 28 at the Union & checkout the lineups here: