Objectives The brewing process

Brewing beer toan 18th-century recipe  Objectives
The brewing process
Science happening in Bokrijk
Science is not always dry as dust
The “Paenhuys van Diepenbeek”
Scientific analysis of a historic brewing process (dating from 1750)

From 4 to 8 May 2002 inclusive, an unusual experiment took place in the museum-brewery “Het Paenhuys uit Diepenbeek”. A team from Antwerp University fired up the old brewing installation in Bokrijk again. They brewed an authentic beer according to a recipe from the 18th Century.


As far as anyone knows, this unique experiment has never been tried before. True, there are a number of breweries and museums with similar installations, but the old brewing process has most probably never been tested until now.
The emphasis lies on the experiment itself and on the different phases of the brewing process. The researchers also want to see whether the traditional installation actually works and what the final result was of the 18th-century recipe. In other words, what sort of beer did it make? Would it have been, say, a rather mushy brew? What percentage of alcohol by volume did it contain? Did it keep? And for how long? After a succession of fermentation and maturing periods the beer would be examined in the university laboratory.

With this ambitious experiment, the Open-Air Museum hopes to gain an understanding of the spirit of enterprise, creativity and taste of our forefathers.

The main objectives of the experiment are:

  • To test the brewing installation in the Paenhuys.
  • To try out an 18th-century beer recipe.
  • Scientific analysis of the beer by an old brewing process. Different fermentation and maturing techniques will be tested. Answers to questions such as ‘how was this beer stored?’, ‘what did the beer taste like?’, … .
  • Experience of the heavy physical work involved in the brewing process; respect for the home-brewers of yesteryear.


They may succeed in brewing a beer of outstanding quality. For the time being, however, the intention is not to place “Bokrijk Beer” on the market. The question is as to whether the brewing equipment meets today’s strict standards for food hygiene. So, the intention at present is not even to set up a home brewery.

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